Microsoft to Add Call of Duty to Game Pass in Major Shift for Franchise

Microsoft Corporation (MSFT.O) plans to include the next installment of the popular “Call of Duty” video game in its Game Pass subscription service.

In a groundbreaking move, Microsoft Corporation (MSFT.O) plans to include the next installment of the popular “Call of Duty” video game in its Game Pass subscription service. This decision marks a significant departure from the longstanding tradition of selling the game independently.

The announcement is anticipated to be made at Microsoft’s annual Xbox showcase, scheduled for June 9. The source, who requested anonymity due to the confidential nature of the information, indicated that this strategic shift aims to bolster Microsoft’s gaming subscription platform.

Despite reaching out for confirmation, Microsoft did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report this news on Friday.

Microsoft’s acquisition of “Call of Duty” came through its monumental $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard, which was finalized late last year. The first-person shooter game has proven to be one of the most lucrative entertainment properties, amassing over $30 billion in lifetime revenue.

Traditionally, Activision has released new editions of “Call of Duty” annually, pricing them around $70 each in recent years. This new approach to include the game in Game Pass reflects a broader strategy to attract more subscribers to the service.

This development follows closely on the heels of Xbox President Sarah Bond’s statement at a recent conference, where she announced that Microsoft intends to release all first-party Xbox games on Game Pass on their launch day. Game Pass, managed by Microsoft, offers subscribers access to a wide array of games from both Xbox and other developers for a monthly fee.

Based in Redmond, Washington, Microsoft has been aggressively expanding its Netflix-style game subscription service in recent years. This effort is part of its broader strategy to challenge the dominance of Sony Corp’s PlayStation consoles. In February, Microsoft reported that Game Pass had grown to 34 million subscribers, a significant increase from the 25 million reported in 2022.

Analysts believe that the inclusion of “Call of Duty” — a franchise with a massive and dedicated fan base — on Game Pass will likely drive more subscriptions. However, there is some concern that this move could impact the traditional sales revenue generated by the title.

“Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III,” released in November 2023, has been the second-best selling game so far this year, trailing only Sony’s “Helldivers II,” according to industry tracker Circana.

The decision to add “Call of Duty” to Game Pass underscores Microsoft’s commitment to transforming the gaming industry through its subscription model, offering players a more accessible and cost-effective way to enjoy their favorite games. As the gaming landscape evolves, this move could signal a major shift in how blockbuster games are marketed and distributed in the future.