‘Call of Duty’ to Join Game Pass Lineup, Highlights Xbox Showcase

(NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox Game Pass will be the focus of its annual video-game showcase on Sunday, with the tech giant poised to launch the latest “Call of Duty” installment on the subscription service.

Bringing the iconic title to Game Pass is a major move by Microsoft, doubling down on the growing subscription service amid stiff competition from Sony’s PlayStation consoles and industry-wide challenges.

While this move is expected to drive Game Pass subscriptions, potentially reaching its 34 million subscriber base as of February, it could impact sales of Activision Blizzard’s popular franchise, acquired by Microsoft for $69 billion in October 2023.

According to Joost Van Dreunen, a lecturer at NYU’s Stern School of Business, this decision builds momentum for Game Pass, especially in a challenging gaming market that has seen layoffs at companies like Activision.

Xbox President Sarah Bond previously announced plans to offer all first-party Xbox games on Game Pass at launch, along with select “big games” from other franchises owned by Xbox.

Sources familiar with the matter told GamesBeat Microsoft plans to debut the next “Call of Duty” title on Game Pass at the Xbox showcase, suggesting the potential inclusion of the entire franchise on the service, though likely not until next year or 2026.

Furthermore, integrating the “Call of Duty” franchise will boost adoption of Xbox’s cloud gaming service, allowing players to stream games on various devices, including televisions and mobile phones.

Analysts speculate that Xbox could introduce a cheaper, ad-supported subscription tier for Game Pass, similar to models seen in services like Netflix, to appeal to lower-income households. Game Pass’s ultimate tier costs around $17 per month in the United States.

According to Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter, offering a cheaper option could broaden Game Pass’s appeal, especially among users without consoles but with fast internet connections.