The next Call of Duty will reportedly hit Game Pass on its release day

It seems Microsoft is prioritizing subscriptions over sales.

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Recent reports suggested that Microsoft executives had been debating for some time whether to put new Call of Duty games onto Game Pass on day one (i.e. on their release day). That seems like something it should have figured out before spending $68.7 billion on CoD publisher Activision Blizzard, but it seems that Microsoft has finally reached a decision. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company will indeed bring the next Call of Duty title directly to Game Pass when it arrives later this year.

Doing so may mean that Microsoft will leave hundreds of millions of dollars in game sales on the table given that each annual Call of Duty release is one of the top-selling titles of its respective year. However, the company has struggled to significantly increase the number of Game Pass subscriptions in recent times.

Putting a new Call of Duty title on there will certainly bring in new members. Microsoft will still make boatloads of money from in-game purchases, sales on other platforms (it agreed to release CoD games on PlayStation, Nintendo and elsewhere for at least a decade after the Activision deal closed) and those who prefer to buy games outright on Xbox. Xbox-owned games are selling well on PlayStation in general. There's always the possibility that Microsoft will increase the price of Game Pass to offset some of the revenue it's likely to lose from lower sales of the next Call of Duty entry on Xbox and PC.

Before Microsoft bought it, Activision had largely eschewed the idea of putting its games on subscription services. While Call of Duty titles have been made available on the likes of PlayStation Plus in the past, that usually happens years after the games were originally released.

After Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard closed late last year, it said that it would take some time for the publisher's games to start showing up on Game Pass. To date, only Diablo IV has joined the service.

Having a brand new Call of Duty game on a subscription service on day one marks a major change in strategy, though it's one that lines up with recent comments from Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer. “Our intent is the full portfolio of games from ZeniMax, Activision Blizzard and XGS — Xbox Game Studios — will be on Game Pass, day one," Spencer told Game File in February. Xbox fans will also be pleased to know that the long-standing approach of putting all first-party Microsoft releases on Game Pass on day one is likely sticking around.

We'll likely find out more about Microsoft's plans for Call of Duty and other Activision games when it comes to Game Pass at its annual showcase on June 9. The core showcase will be followed by one focusing on a "beloved franchise," which is widely expected to be CoD.

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