Call of Duty on Game Pass can’t erase the damage Xbox has done

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III releases on November 10, 2023.

Following the closure of Microsoft's $75.4 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard late last year, the company is now gearing up to bring one of the publisher's biggest games to its Xbox Game Pass subscription service. This week, The Wall Street Journal reported that 2024's Call of Duty will be the first to debut on Game Pass when it launches this fall.

According to the report, people familiar with Microsoft's plans claim the company will announce the arrival of Call of Duty 2024 on Game Pass at its showcase on June 9th.

It's virtually impossible to overemphasize the enormity of this move for Xbox. Call of Duty is one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time, topped only by Mario, Tetris, and Pokémon. Despite terrible reviews, last year's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III was the second best-selling game of 2023, toppling critically acclaimed smash hits like Marvel's Spider-Man 2, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and Mortal Kombat 1.

These games are enormously popular, and for the first time, Game Pass subscribers are going to be able to dive in without having to pay $69.99 upfront.

This is a calculated risk from Microsoft, as the company is willingly forgoing millions of dollars in sales to boost Game Pass membership. Microsoft noted it "set a record for the most Game Pass subscriptions added on a single day ever" when Starfield launched last September. Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 (the entry expected to arrive this fall) is sure to help shatter that record.

But the question isn't whether a new Call of Duty will convince thousands of gamers to subscribe to Game Pass. It will. The question is how Microsoft plans to persuade all those new subscribers to stay signed up when it's shuttering game studios left and right.

Just last week, Microsoft closed down Arkane Austin (Redfall), Tango Gameworks (Hi-Fi Rush), and Alpha Dog Games (Mighty Doom). Roundhouse Studios was also absorbed by ZeniMax Online Studios. Dozens, if not hundreds, of developers lost their jobs.

The result of Microsoft's acquisition spree has not been a flood of stellar exclusives for the Xbox, but rather a painfully slow drip of inconsistent games punctuated by horrific, widespread layoffs. Tango Gameworks made one of the best and most surprising games of 2023, and all they have to show for it now is a job hunt. Despite all that, Microsoft wants you to commit a chunk of your hard-earned money to its gaming subscription service every month just because you can play Call of Duty for $16.99/month instead of $70 at once.

The value of Game Pass, much like Netflix or Spotify, goes far beyond any single game, series, or album. Sure, you might sign up because you want to watch Squid Game season 2 or listen to the latest Billie Eilish, but you're sticking around for everything else the service has to offer. How compelling can Game Pass be if so many of the people responsible for making the games that populate it are currently out on the street looking for work?

Waving Call of Duty around is a reasonable strategy, but the Xbox brand has suffered a massive blow in recent weeks. It's going to take even more than one of the biggest game franchises of all time to rebuild trust with the gaming community.

The post Call of Duty on Game Pass can’t erase the damage Xbox has done appeared first on BGR.

Today's Top Deals

  1. Today’s deals: $20 Blink Mini, $179 AirPods Pro, $300 Vitamix blender, $100 COSORI air fryer, more

  2. Best deals: Tech, laptops, TVs, and more sales

  3. Best Ring Video Doorbell deals in May 2024

  4. Amazon gift card deals, offers & coupons 2024: Get $415+ free