Xbox Game Pass Unveils New Game, Available from Day One

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Microsoft has disrupted the traditional model of big video game launches with its announcement that the highly anticipated game, Call of Duty: Black Ops 6, will be available immediately to Game Pass subscribers. In the past, gamers had to pay a significant amount upfront to purchase new releases outright. Now, they have the option to pay a smaller monthly subscription fee instead. This move by Microsoft is significant not only for the company but also for the gaming industry as a whole.

Christopher Dring, the head of, describes Microsoft’s decision as a “significant move” that has the potential to reshape the industry. Call of Duty is one of the best-selling game series in history, with over 425 million lifetime sales and billions of dollars in revenue. It is the crown jewel of Activision Blizzard, which Microsoft controversially acquired for $69 billion. Microsoft’s decision to make this highly anticipated game available through a subscription service rather than traditional retail channels is a major departure from established norms.

The subscription service in question is Game Pass, which operates similarly to Sony’s PlayStation Plus service. It allows gamers to access a vast library of games for a monthly fee. Both Game Pass and PlayStation Plus have been likened to “Netflix for games.” However, unlike Netflix, users can download many of the games included in these services and play them on their own hardware, rather than relying on streaming over the cloud.

Game Pass currently has 34 million subscribers as of February 2024, while PlayStation Plus reported 47 million subscribers in March 2023. Microsoft’s decision to include Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 in the Game Pass library without any additional charge is a calculated risk. It could potentially cannibalize sales of the game but aims to attract a large number of new subscribers to the service. This move will test the viability of subscription models for the gaming industry as a whole.

Dring suggests that Microsoft’s decision may stem from the fact that people tend to play fewer games compared to watching TV shows. Streaming services for games can struggle to justify the cost when users only play one or two titles. However, with the inclusion of a major game like Call of Duty in the Game Pass library, Microsoft may need to introduce higher tiers or alternative monetization techniques to ensure the numbers work.

One aspect that remains unclear from Microsoft’s announcement is whether gamers will be able to stream the new Call of Duty game or if they will be required to download it. Due to regulatory requirements, Microsoft had to make concessions when it acquired Activision. As a result, cloud streaming rights for Activision’s games were given to French game publisher Ubisoft. This means that Ubisoft holds the rights to distribute Activision’s games on consoles and PCs through cloud streaming. Therefore, it is uncertain whether the new Call of Duty game will be available for streaming at launch. Additionally, it is highly unlikely that PlayStation gamers will have access to the game through streaming on its release day.

In conclusion, Microsoft’s decision to make Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 available to Game Pass subscribers on its launch day disrupts the traditional model of video game releases. This move has significant implications for both Microsoft and the gaming industry. By including such a popular and highly anticipated game in the subscription service, Microsoft is taking a calculated risk to attract new subscribers. The success of this venture will determine the viability of subscription models for the gaming industry. With the inclusion of higher tiers or new monetization techniques, Microsoft aims to strike the perfect balance between increased subscription numbers and the sustainability of the gaming industry as a whole. Only time will tell if this gamble pays off.

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