Microsoft Boosts Game Pass with ‘Call of Duty’ at Xbox Showcase

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Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox Game Pass will be the highlight of its annual video-game showcase on Sunday, with the tech giant gearing up to launch the latest “Call of Duty” installment on the subscription service.

Bringing the iconic title to Game Pass represents a significant move by Microsoft, doubling down on the growing subscription service amidst stiff competition from Sony’s PlayStation consoles and industry-wide challenges.

While this move is expected to drive Game Pass subscriptions, potentially reaching its 34 million subscriber base as of February, it could impact sales of Activision Blizzard’s highly sought-after franchise, acquired by Microsoft for $69 billion in October 2023.

According to Joost Van Dreunen, a lecturer at NYU’s Stern School of Business, this decision creates momentum for Game Pass, particularly in a challenging gaming market where layoffs at companies like Activision have occurred.

Xbox President Sarah Bond previously announced plans to offer all first-party Xbox games on Game Pass at launch, alongside select “big games” from other franchises owned by Xbox.

Sources familiar with the matter revealed Microsoft’s intention to debut the next “Call of Duty” title on Game Pass at the Xbox showcase, suggesting potential inclusion of the entire franchise on the service, though likely not until next year or 2026.

Moreover, integrating the “Call of Duty” franchise will drive the adoption of Xbox’s cloud gaming service, allowing players to stream games on various devices, including televisions and mobile phones.

Analysts speculate that Xbox might introduce a more affordable, ad-supported subscription tier for Game Pass, similar to models seen in services like Netflix, to attract lower-income households. Game Pass’s ultimate tier costs around $17 per month in the United States.

According to Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter, offering a cheaper alternative could broaden Game Pass’s appeal, particularly among users without consoles but with fast internet connections.

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