Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 Will Be on Game Pass at Launch, Microsoft Confirms

Call of Duty: Back Ops 6, the next instalment in Activision’s popular first-person shooter franchise, will be available on Xbox Game Pass at launch, Microsoft confirmed Tuesday. All Game Pass subscribers will be able to play the game on day one. The confirmation came days after reports claimed that the Xbox parent was planning to put the next Call of Duty on its game subscription service.

Microsoft has bet big on Xbox Game Pass, bringing all its first-party titles to the service at launch. That strategy has, however, cost Xbox in sales of its exclusive games. Bringing Call of Duty, one of the best-selling game franchises in the world, to Game Pass would likely result in subscriber growth, but could also end up hurting direct sales. On Game Pass, Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 would be playable at launch at no additional cost to subscribers on Xbox consoles, PC and other supported devices.

In January, Microsoft provided subscriber numbers for Game Pass after a gap of over two years, confirming that the service had 34 million subscribers. While that represents a 36 percent jump from numbers reported over two years ago, gaming subscription services have struggled in recent times to add new paying members. Games industry analyst Mat Piscatella claimed earlier this month that spending on non-mobile game subscription services had stalled. “March 2024 non-mobile video game subscription spending was only up 1% vs the April 2023 figures…,” he said in his X post at the time.

Earlier this month, Microsoft shut down several game studios under its umbrella, including Hi-Fi Rush developer Tango Gameworks and Redfall maker Arkane Austin, in order to shift focus on to its “priority games”. While Redfall launched to negative reception and fell short of Microsoft’s expectations, Hi-Fi Rush, in the company’s own words, was a “break out hit” across “all key measurements and expectations.” A big chunk of the player numbers for the rhythm-based action-adventure title, however, was believed to have come from Game Pass, rather than direct sales. Releasing Call of Duty, a mass-market, money-spinning tent-pole franchise, on Game Pass could thus be Microsoft’s biggest bet on the subscription service.

Activision, which was acquired by Microsoft last year, confirmed last week that Black Ops 6 would be the next Call of Duty title. The publisher is planning a full reveal for the game at a Direct presentation immediately following the Xbox Games Showcase on June 9. Activision has so far revealed little about the game, releasing a few teasers and a live-action trailer since the game was confirmed. Microsoft said that it would share more details about Black Ops 6 at the Direct showcase, where players can expect the “first in-depth look at gameplay in this dark new chapter of the Black Ops series.

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