Call of Duty is one of the most popular first-person shooter franchises of all time; it's also now a valuable bargaining chip for Microsoft. Facing scrutiny for its Activision Blizzard merger from the Competition Markets Authority, among other regulators, Microsoft has published a frank and informative blog post about the future of some beloved Activision series.
As fans predicted, Call of Duty (along with other familiar franchises) will indeed come to Xbox Game Pass. However, as Microsoft has previously stated, the game will remain on PS5 and other platforms, with all features intact.
Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming, personally penned the Microsoft blog post (opens in new tab), entitled "Gaming for everyone, everywhere: our view on the Activision Blizzard acquisition." In it, he discusses the larger Xbox ecosystem, and how Microsoft is attempting to decouple gaming from any one particular console or platform.
"Subscription services like Game Pass make gaming more affordable and help players from all over the world find their next favorite game," Spencer wrote. "Game Pass empowers developers to bring more games to more players, not fewer. We intend to make Activision Blizzard’s much-loved library of games – including Overwatch, Diablo and Call of Duty – available in Game Pass and to grow those gaming communities."
That seems to settle the issue of whether or not Call of Duty will make its way to Game Pass. Given Spencer's comments, we theorize that the game will be available through this service for Xbox, PC and streaming, which could indeed open the series up to a wider audience than before. However, PlayStation players can rest easy:
"We are committed to making the same version of Call of Duty available on PlayStation on the same day the game launches elsewhere," he continued. The "same version" part is important, since it implies that Microsoft will not keep desirable extra features exclusively for Xbox platforms and services.
To understand why Spencer has spent so much time discussing Call of Duty specifically, it's important to remember that Sony considers the series to be unassailable. Sony seems to believe that Microsoft owning Call of Duty would give the company an undue advantage, and regulators may well agree.
Confirming that Call of Duty will come to Game Pass is new; confirming continued PlayStation compatibility isn't. But either way, the message of the post is clear: Microsoft owning Activision Blizzard will not have an adverse effect on competition in the gaming industry, according to Spencer. Whether gamers - or regulators - agree, we'll have to wait and see.