Activision offers a timeframe for Xbox Game Pass inclusions ahead of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3's launch

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Ghost looking backward
(Image credit: Activision Publishing)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft is in the process of acquiring Activision-Blizzard, known for games like World of Warcraft and Call of Duty. 
  • The deal is expected to finally close this week, after years battling with regulators. 
  • Despite the deal potentially closing as soon as this Friday, Activision put out a rare statement today to offer insights into its plans for Xbox Game Pass. 
  • Microsoft has said that the plan is to bring Call of Duty into Xbox Game Pass in previous statements, but Activision says the plans to do that are not yet in place. 
  • Activision notes that you can expect to see more Game Pass integrations "next year," as in 2024. 

The Activision-Blizzard-Microsoft acquisition drama may finally be coming to a close, leaving us to consider what the future looks like instead. 

Microsoft's 72 billion dollar deal to acquire the Call of Duty maker has been through intense regulatory scrutiny, primarily in the United States, European Union, and United Kingdom. With massive concessions to the UK, Activision and Microsoft are finally expected to close the deal as soon as this week, pending an expected approval from the UK regulator. There's no hard guarantee the UK regulator (known as the CMA) will issue an approval. The CMA has recently offered a "provisional" approval, however, which is seen as near-certain for a positive outcome as can be.

As eyes turn to the future, players are starting to wonder how soon Activision and Xbox integrations can kick in. Activision has offered some rare insight today on X (Twitter). 

Activision says that it has no immediate plans to offer its premium titles like Diablo IV or the upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 release in Xbox Game Pass or PC Game Pass this year. Instead, it says, quite vaguely, that it will begin exploring what its collaborations with Xbox will look like next year, in 2024.  

It’s awesome to see anticipation building for Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® III. As we continue to work toward regulatory approval of the Microsoft deal, we’ve been getting some questions whether our upcoming and recently launched games will be available via Game Pass. While we do not have plans to put Modern Warfare® III or Diablo IV into Game Pass this year, once the deal closes, we expect to start working with Xbox to bring our titles to more players around the world. And we anticipate that we would begin adding games into Game Pass sometime in the course of next year.

@ATVI_AB on X (Twitter)

There are dozens of games Microsoft and Activision could potentially include in Xbox Game Pass as a part of this acquisition. Despite this statement, and per our own sources, we expect to see a ton of new games hit Xbox Game Pass following the deal's finalization. 

Over the summer, Microsoft and Activision revived the Xbox 360 servers for classic Call of Duty games, leading to a large spike in users. The obvious assumption there is that Microsoft could be looking to include classic Call of Duty games into the service initially. Microsoft may be exploring the impacts on user behavior potentially, before disrupting the premium Call of Duty machine. 

Update (October 17, 2023): A previous version of this article said that a ton of games will hit Xbox Game Pass "the minute the deal is finalized," but that was a misinterpretation of the facts on my end. Games are being prepped for Xbox Game Pass, and Microsoft's reactivation of the classic Call of Duty servers are evidence of that. Xbox's Phil Spencer has since come out and noted that benefits for Xbox fans will take form over the coming months. I'll share more details when I get it. 

Call of Disruption?

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 drops on November 10, 2023.  (Image credit: Activision Publishing)

Call of Duty is an incredibly lucrative business, with hundreds upon hundreds of developers working on the franchise at any one time. The business model hinges on microtransactions naturally, but also Call of Duty's big premium retail sales, which like clockwork deliver massive annualized revenues for the operation. Xbox Game Pass could disrupt that business model negatively, but also positively — cheaper access may mean more users, which may mean more in-app purchases and virality. I suspect Activision and Microsoft will tread carefully on that, however.

Beyond Call of Duty, there are dozens, maybe hundreds of legacy titles Microsoft and Activision could throw into Game Pass. From Spyro to StarCraft, Microsoft is set to gain reams of highly visible, memorable, and nostalgic franchises, many of which are dormant and ripe for a revival. We'll have to wait and see exactly how Xbox and PC gamers in the Microsoft ecosystem stand to benefit in the coming months ahead — but don't be surprised if you see a ton of new titles hit Xbox Game Pass as early as next week, even if they're a little older.

What Activision-Blizzard games would you like to see hit Xbox / PC Game Pass in the first wave? Hit the comments! 

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • fjtorres5591
    "Microsoft's 72 billion dollar deal to acquire the Call of Duty maker has been through intense regulatory scrutiny, primarily in the United States, European Union, and United Kingdom."

    $72B? Not $68.7B?
    Is the extra $3B+ the legal fees for fighting off the CMA and FTC?