Microsoft’s Acquisition of Activision Blizzard Set to Close Soon
Microsoft is on track to finalize its $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard before the October 18 deadline. The deal has received tentative approval from the U.K.’s antitrust regulator, clearing the final hurdle and allowing the merger to proceed. Reports suggest that the acquisition could be completed as early as October 13.
Upon completion of the deal, Microsoft will gain ownership of several major gaming properties, including Activision’s Call of Duty series. This has led to speculation about whether these games will be added to Microsoft’s Game Pass subscription service on Xbox and PC. As the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 approaches on November 10, gamers are eager to know when they can expect to play the game on Game Pass.
Call of Duty on Game Pass: What to Expect
Fortunately, Activision Blizzard has shed some light on the matter. In anticipation of the completion of the deal, the company stated that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and its other major release for 2023, Diablo 4, will not be added to Game Pass “this year.” However, Activision Blizzard does plan to start adding games to Game Pass in 2024.
In a statement posted on X (formerly known as Twitter), Activision Blizzard said: “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.”
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.
— Activision Blizzard (@ATVI_AB) October 9, 2023
While Activision Blizzard’s statement does not explicitly confirm that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Diablo 4 will be available on Game Pass in 2024, it also does not rule it out.
Based on this information and the timing of Microsoft’s previous acquisition of Zenimax Media, we can make some educated guesses about when Activision Blizzard games, including Call of Duty, will be added to Game Pass. Microsoft added Bethesda games to Game Pass shortly after the acquisition in March 2021, with a focus on back catalog titles. New releases from Bethesda, such as Hi-Fi Rush, Redfall, and Starfield, became available on Game Pass later on. Similarly, we can expect back catalog games from Activision Blizzard, including older Call of Duty titles, to arrive on Game Pass early in 2024, while recent releases may take longer.
Availability of Old Call of Duty Games on Game Pass
Although Activision Blizzard won’t add games to Game Pass as quickly as Bethesda did, we can anticipate that older Call of Duty games, such as the previous two Modern Warfare titles, will be included in the service’s early 2024 offerings. However, games released more recently may have to wait longer due to certain factors. For instance, the marketing deal between Activision Blizzard and Sony for Modern Warfare 3 may delay its availability on Game Pass for about six months to a year. Additionally, Microsoft may respect Activision Blizzard’s established marketing and business plan for the annual Call of Duty releases, suggesting that Modern Warfare 3 could potentially debut on Game Pass towards the end of 2024, alongside next year’s Call of Duty installment.
Potential Timeline for Other Activision Blizzard Games on Game Pass
Similar considerations come into play for other games from Activision Blizzard, such as Diablo, World of Warcraft, and Overwatch. While there are no exclusivity agreements with PlayStation that would hinder the release of Diablo 4 on Game Pass, Activision Blizzard may still take its time. Older Diablo games like Diablo 3 and Diablo 2: Resurrected could be among the first batch of back catalog games to be added for Game Pass subscribers. As for World of Warcraft, Microsoft may hesitate to cannibalize its existing revenue stream, as the game continues to attract a large audience that pays a separate monthly subscription fee. Therefore, it is uncertain whether World of Warcraft will be included in the initial wave of games added to Game Pass, or if it will be added at all. On the other hand, Overwatch 2, being a free-to-play game, presents a different scenario. Early 2024 is a likely timeframe for Game Pass subscribers to receive additional perks for Overwatch 2, building on the existing unlocks for some of the game’s heroes.