Despite Microsoft’s huge acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the Call of Duty series may not get its Xbox Game Pass moment after all, according to a source close to industry insider ‘Timdog’. The potential move would come as part of a broader shift towards Microsoft going third-party with its biggest titles.
Speaking on the Gamers Council podcast, Timdog notes that Xbox console sales have failed to meet targets, with sales declining year-on-year. This has, reportedly, “spooked” Xbox CFO Tim Stuart. As such, it looks like even the best Xbox exclusives could arrive on PS5 at this point, as Microsoft seeks a return on its investments. For CoD, which was already a cross-platform IP, ditching Game Pass – itself a costly service to run – in favor of shipping copies at full retail price appears to be the strategy.
“I heard that even Call of Duty’s not gonna come to Game Pass – that’s one of their brilliant ideas,” Timdog says. While he doesn’t specify which CoD games this will apply to, we expect it to cover new releases at the very least. Xbox CEO Phil Spencer last year said that 2024 would be the magic year that we finally start seeing Activision Blizzard King games arrive on the service, and name-dropped CoD specifically back in late 2022.
Regardless, this would come as a major blow for budget-conscious gamers hoping to snag CoD 2024 day one on Game Pass. With that being said, we’re unsurprised that Xbox is looking to one of the best-selling games series of all time to help pick up the slack financially after its recent spending spree in the studio market.
Though the likes of Hi-Fi Rush and Sea of Thieves were previously touted to become new PS5 games, the prospect of Starfield, alongside upcoming first-party big-hitters Hellblade 2 and Indiana Jones, also coming to PlayStation is an unprecedented move. Yet, in the context of Sony’s overwhelming market share compared to Microsoft’s (70/30), as well as Xbox’s rumored woes, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see the doors flung open in an attempt to improve its bottom line.
It’s difficult to predict how such a move would shake out long term, however. While it certainly looks like Xbox is heavily moving away from exclusivity, there’s still value to be had in shipping more copies of games with its name attached. It would also be a further indicator of Microsoft’s all-digital designs, which would see it dip out of physical sales entirely to focus on its Game Pass offering while relying on game sales further afield to help bear the service’s financial strain. It’s risky, and dare we say anti-consumer considering the loss of second-hand purchase options, but it’s within the realms of possibility.
For more of the latest Xbox news, check out these beautiful new Vapor controllers, as well as the most recent update on Palworld’s bug-squashing efforts on the platform.