In a huge switch up to the gaming industry, Microsoft has announced that the newest Call of Duty title will be available straight away to subscribers of its Game Pass.

The move highlights Microsoft’s latest flexing of its $69bn acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the owner of Call of Duty, in 2023. 

Making Call of Duty available on its Game Pass subscription service was widely seen as Microsoft’s crown jewel from its record-breaking deal.

Call of Duty is the fourth best-selling game franchise in history and has made billions of dollars, with over 425 million global sales.

The franchise has never been part of a subscription service. With over twenty entries in the last two decades, millions of gamers have been parting with their cash to purchase the newest entry almost every year since 2003.

Game Pass lets console and PC players download hundreds of video games for a monthly subscription fee.

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Placing Call of Duty on to the service is a huge gamble from Microsoft, as it will allow current subscribers to play the highly anticipated game for no extra charge.

Microsoft is banking on receiving an increased rate of sign-ups once the game is released.

However, the company was previously debating whether putting new releases of Call of Duty on the service would undermine the revenue which could be achieved from selling it traditionally. Annual releases of the franchise regularly sell more than 20 million copies at around $70 each.

Microsoft’s gaming chief Phil Spencer recently admitted to a slowdown in growth of the subscription service.

The gaming industry will be worth $470bn in less than a decade, increasing by more than double from its 2021 $197bn valuation, according to research firm GlobalData.

It comes after the once “recession-proof” video game industry witnessed a rare decrease in user growth as the world maneuvered itself out of the coronavirus pandemic in 2022.

The industry has also been hindered by rising inflation causing customers to tighten their purse strings and semiconductor shortages that have led to a slowdown in the supply of gaming consoles.