Well, it’s been a long time since Microsoft announced its plans to acquire Activision Blizzard King – when everyone’s hopes of seeing Call of Duty on Xbox Game Pass were raised – and now it looks like the deal is all-but-sealed. Yes, that means you might just see a Call of Duty game or two on Xbox Game Pass quite a bit sooner than you think. California judge Jacqueline Scott Corely has ruled in favor of Microsoft in its court case against the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), an organization that has been trying to block the company’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard for a while now. If you’re hoping to see some of the best competitive FPS games out there available alongside some of the best Xbox Game Pass games available, you’re in luck – that reality seems closer than ever.
Recently, on July 11, in a decision dated July 10, the US District Court of Northern California confirmed its denial of the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction against Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard King in a deal that’s reportedly valued at around $69 billion. What does that mean? Well, it means that – at least in the United States of America – nothing’s stopping Microsoft from actually going through with the deal. And that’s a massive result for anyone with an Xbox.
Specifically, if you’re looking for some legal jargon, the publicly-available redacted version of the decision document states that “the Court finds the FTC has not shown a likelihood it will prevail on its claim this particular vertical merger in this specific industry may substantially lessen competition”. Translation: the Court isn’t convinced that Microsoft’s acquisition is going to mean Activision Blizzard King games like Call of Duty are going to be less available to the public to play.
This being the main argument underpinning the FTC’s case, the document continues to express that “the record evidence points to more consumer access to Call of Duty and other Activision content”.
“Microsoft has committed in writing, in public and in court, to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation for 10 years on parity with Xbox. It made an agreement with Nintendo to bring Call of Duty to Switch. And, it entered several agreements for the first time [to] bring Activision’s content to several cloud gaming services”.
We don’t know any of the real specifics of these deals right now, but this could very-well mean that we see the next Call of Duty (well, the one after the Call of Duty 2023 release date rolls around) on Xbox Game Pass – the one we’re getting this year should still fall under any existing deals with Sony.
However, don’t take that as gospel. There’s nothing stating that Call of Duty specifically will be coming to Xbox Game Pass – not yet, anyway. You also don’t have to worry if you’re a die-hard PlayStation player, we’re getting Call of Duty on PlayStation with console parity (meaning both versions will be the best they can be) for at least ten more years. So, if you’re a fan of some of the best PS5 FPS games, that’s great news – even if there are other options. Beyond that, though, it’s anyone’s guess at the moment, sure. However, that’s a lot of Call of Duty and there’s plenty of time for new deals to be struck. Or, perhaps the whole Call of Duty series will die a terrible death in a few game’s time and a new franchise will take point?
We know too many PlayStation players wasted over $400 to only play Call of Duty, but that’s a testament to how popular it is on the platform. Microsoft isn’t stupid and it knows all-too-well how much value there is in having the series on Sony’s platform. However, we also imagine it knows how much value there’d be in having it on Xbox Game Pass. So, this is certainly a step in the right direction if you’re hoping to play future Call of Duty titles without paying the big bucks.
When you think about first-person shooters, Call of Duty games are among the best Xbox games and the best PlayStation games in that department and, as much as you might not like the idea of an Xbox Game Pass player getting their hands on an upcoming release for the price of a monthly subscription, this deal is going to be good news for fans of the franchise looking for more ways to play.