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Xbox’s turmoil could now endanger Call of Duty on Game Pass

As Microsoft navigates Xbox’s recent inner turmoil, the decision to withhold Call of Duty from Xbox Game Pass is allegedly on the table.

Call of Duty Xbox Game Pass: An image of Soap in modern warfare 3 and the xbox game pass logo.

With the closure of multiple first party studios earlier this week, Xbox finds itself in a very strange place. The vision of the brand remains unclear, just weeks away from its upcoming June Xbox Showcase. Now, a new report not only claims that Xbox Game Pass could be getting a price hike, but that the likelihood of seeing Call of Duty games on the service is on shaky ground.

According to The Verge, Microsoft is reportedly debating the merits of adding new Xbox games like Treyarch’s upcoming COD title to Game Pass. The long-running FPS game series is a financial mammoth, an aspect that Microsoft isn’t considering lightly. Despite sounding like a sure thing a few months ago, releasing the next COD iteration on Xbox Game Pass is beginning to seem more unlikely, as Microsoft supposedly believes any potential revenue would be “undermined” by the subscription service.

While The Verge’s’ report reiterates that this decision is only in the early stages of reaching a resolution, one solution to alleviate the risk for Microsoft is purportedly raising the cost of Game Pass itself. It would mark the second price increase within a year, as Game Pass’ tiers were made more expensive last June. The incentive to sign-up perhaps isn’t as alluring as it was then, too, as Microsoft has shifted Xbox exclusives like multiplayer game hit Sea of Thieves and Tango Gameworks’ Hi-Fi Rush to other platforms.

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When the Microsoft Activision merger was completed, it seemed like bringing the Call of Duty franchise to the ever-growing Xbox Game Pass games list was a no-brainer decision. Even Phil Spencer pledged to make it a reality earlier this year, saying it was Xbox’s “intent” to get all Activision Blizzard games on the service on day one. Spencer has also discussed the notion of shining a light on older Activision IP and games, making it seem that players would get to enjoy an array of classics on Game Pass in the future.

The stars seemed even more aligned when Xbox resurrected the servers of past Call of Duty games, making titles like Modern Warfare 2 (2009) or World at War playable (and stable) in online matchmaking. However, with a restructuring of Xbox’s leadership toward the end of last year, herein lies another obstacle to bringing Call of Duty to Game Pass.

At present, Xbox is struggling to control the narrative of its recent decisions, putting a further amount of scrutiny on its every move. Even if Treyarch’s next COD game, or previous titles, appear on the Game Pass, is it enough to rebuild one aspect of its reputation? Unlikely. Microsoft has also conditioned players to expect major triple-A titles for free on day one, such as the upcoming Indiana Jones and The Great Circle. It’s a catch -22 situation for Microsoft, even if it can convince players to pick up an Xbox Series X|S console for the promise of free* Call of Duty games.

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In related gaming news, EA is rallying up the “largest Battlefield team” ever for its next entry, and this Xbox sale is perfect for you to catch up on Hellblade before its upcoming sequel.