While the Activision Blizzard acquisition by Microsoft lumbers along, it seems Call of Duty games won’t be on Xbox Game Pass afterwards – at least not for years.
Various international regulators are reviewing the massive merger, and the latest snag is UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, who are reviewing the merger due to several concerns.
Microsoft has responded to this review saying they are adopting “Sony’s complaints” without “the appropriate level of critical review”, while also pointing to a previous agreement between Sony and Activision Blizzard.
This agreement will seemingly prevent Call of Duty games from appearing on Game Pass, Microsoft’s behemoth subscription service.. even if the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard merger is approved.
Other big acquisitions like Bethesda and other publishers saw their titles get added to Game Pass, as they became Microsoft subsidiaries.
A footnote in the response references an old Tweet from Xbox boss Phil Spencer, who noted they would honor “prior agreements” between Sony and Activision – once again, limiting Call of Duty titles from appearing on Game Pass.
“The agreement between Activision Blizzard and Sony includes restrictions on the ability of Activision Blizzard to place Call of Duty titles on Game Pass for a number of years,” the footnote states.
Speculation arose once the Microsoft acquisition was announced that they would put Activision and Blizzard Entertainment titles to Game Pass, which the company has firmly reiterated, but the line seems to be drawn at Activision’s golden goose: Call of Duty.
Regulators are worried having the annual shooter franchise on Game Pass, while PlayStation gamers have to pay full price, would give Microsoft an absurd market advantage.
Sony’s prior agreement, which started on the PlayStation 4, has exclusive perks for PlayStation gamers and whatever the latest Call of Duty game is, ranging from beta access, content, and more. Prior regulatory documents revealed Microsoft had accused Sony of paying gamedevs to keep their games off Game Pass, too.
The latest for the series, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 reboot, is set to release on October 28th, 2022 across Windows PC (via Battle.net and Steam), Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.