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Of Course Call of Duty Is Coming To Game Pass

To the surprise of nobody paying attention, Call of Duty will be coming to Game Pass. It’s official. Stop asking.

Xbox confirmed the news today, after previously confirming it multiple times. But don’t worry guys, you can still secretly hope a new Call of Duty tier is added between now and November. Or that the price suddenly doubles.

Microsoft have had a crappy year so far, and there’s absolutely no denying it. They’ve scored more own goals than a blind toddlers’ football team. And yet there is one thing that has been said pretty consistently: all first party games will continue to come to Game Pass. It was said back in the roundtable over games coming to PlayStation. It was said again in interviews since. There is no get-out clause, short of just flat-out changing the policy. Would they do that? Possibly. But nothing has indicated as much.

I say nothing. Insiders have said it wouldn’t be coming to Call of Duty, and have said there was a massive internal struggle over what would happen. Useful that whatever the outcome, they could still be right.

My scepticism over that aside, this was always the correct presumption. Yes, the Xbox gang seem hellbent on burning down their entire brand by Christmas. But the reality is that Day One on Game Pass has been the crux of the service since it was announced. Changing that now, just because the games are bigger, would go against everything that they’ve built. It would destroy their unique selling point.

I’ve written before about some of the issues faced by Microsoft when it comes to marketing. They are always going to face negativity. They have to work twice as hard to have the same impact, because they’re not the default. They’re not PlayStation.

Will Call of Duty’s Marketing Make a Dent?

This is yet another example of that. The last few weeks have been filled with triple-written internet posts that look something like this:

“Call of Duty isn’t coming to Game Pass because it would cost too much and leave money on the table, and obviously that’s not Xbox’s MO any more. BUT if it does come to Game Pass it’ll be in its own special Call of Duty tier that costs more, and maybe even all Day One games will be in that tier as well. Everybody else will have to wait just like on PlayStation. BUT if it does come and there’s no change to the tier, then they’ll just massively increase the price. It’s the only way that any of this makes sense. BUT if they don’t raise the price, they will eventually, because there’s no way Call of Duty on Game Pass makes any sense.”

When Game Pass gets its inevitable price increase, whether it’s a dollar or fifty dollars, everyone will claim it’s the Call of Duty tax.

What those people don’t realise is that Call of Duty on Game Pass is about getting users into an ecosystem. It’s not an untested property like Starfield or an artsy project like Hellblade 2 or Pentiment. It’s a guaranteed success story every single year. Will people sell up their PlayStations and rush to Xbox? No. They don’t need to.

It’s about tempting in those people who don’t buy it every single year day one. It’s about creating a free-to-play market in a $70 game.

I don’t believe the number of lost sales this will create will be nearly as big as people presume, but the potential audience reach is massive.

That’s if Microsoft do everything properly and, well, it’d be nice to see them prove they’re capable of that.


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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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