Call of Duty and other Activision Blizzard games won’t appear on Xbox Game Pass until next year. On the Official Xbox Podcast, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer claimed that players wouldn’t be seeing a big drop of those titles immediately, due to the lengthy regulatory challenges the company faced in its buyout attempt. Since it was uncertain whether the acquisition would be approved by Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) until recently, Xbox wasn’t able to do the groundwork for adding the catalogue to their gaming subscription service. Ahead of the deal’s closure, Activision Blizzard confirmed on Twitter that the upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III and newly-launched Diablo IV won’t be coming to Game Pass soon, but Spencer’s statement covers older titles as well.
This is in stark contrast from Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax Media, where just two days after the buyout, 20 Bethesda back catalogue games, including franchises like Fallout, DOOM, Dishonored, and more were flooded onto Game Pass — free to play for members. “So now that the deal is closed, we’re starting that work. But there is work,” Spencer said on the podcast, attesting that Activision Blizzard’s tweet is ‘accurate’ in terms of the 2024 timeline. He further assured that there’s no ‘secret celebration drop’ coming in the next few weeks, while acknowledging that fans have the right to be disappointed about it. It’s a long-term acquisition though, granting Xbox a lot of time to experiment with the average gamer’s ever-growing needs, and to that effect, Phil states that he’s excited about the future.
The elephant in the room, of course, is Call of Duty. Spencer reiterated on the same podcast that the franchise will maintain ‘100 percent parity’ across all platforms, including PlayStation for a 10-year duration. The acquisition shouldn’t cause other players to miss out on exclusive content or timing, which is something the Blue team took advantage of by granting early access to multiplayer beta and an exclusive operator called Lockpick this time. The bundle will be available only to those who pre-order Modern Warfare 3 on PS4 and PS5 for a year, until November 9, 2024. That said, Spencer said that there could be some performance and resolution changes depending on the platform. Baldur’s Gate 3’s Xbox port is an example, where the developers are unable to include split-screen coop on the lower-end Xbox Series S due to technical limitations. However, the in-game content is expected to remain the same (at the time of writing).
“We have no goal of somehow trying to use Call of Duty to get you to buy an Xbox console,” he said, adding that he doesn’t think making platform exclusive beta weekends helps players. The regulatory process for Activision Blizzard acquisition took more than a year, thanks to the US FTC stepping in to express concerns that Microsoft’s $69 billion (about Rs. 5,74,528 crore) deal was anti-competitive and that it had plans to make Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox. During those court proceedings, PlayStation boss Jim Ryan also claimed that a bunch of video game publishers he’d been speaking to unanimously agreed that Xbox Game Pass was ‘value destructive.’