Those hoping to see some of Activision Blizzard’s biggest titles make their way to Xbox Game Pass will have to wait just a little while longer.
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Xbox finally sealed the deal of buying out Activision Blizzard last week for an incredible, sense-defying $68.7 billion after it managed to make amends with UK regulators. That means Microsoft is now in charge of some of the most lucrative IPs in gaming, including the Call of Duty franchise and King’s Candy Crush. The deal took months and months of negotiations with regulatory bodies across the world, with most of the initial objections stemming from how Xbox planned to market its new properties with Xbox Game Pass and its still-nascent game streaming service.
That time spent in the oven meant both companies have had no time to start porting games to Microsoft’s big subscription service. On an episode of the official Xbox podcast that aired Tuesday, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer told hosts that we’ll have to wait a bit before any of Activision’s most popular franchises hit Xbox Game Pass. The issue was that “the regulatory process took so long,” that they “weren’t able to get in and work with Activision Blizzard on that back catalog work.”
“I would love it if there was some kind of secret celebration drop that’s coming the next couple of weeks,” Spencer said. “There’s not.”
Phil Spencer on Activision Blizzard King + Xbox | Official Xbox Podcast
Spencer is known for his candidness on air, though it effectively confirms what Activision Blizzard had already publicly said last week. The publisher wrote on Twitter Oct. 9 that they don’t have plans to put the upcoming Modern Warfare III or Diablo IV on Game Pass this year. The company added, “we anticipate that we would begin adding games into Game Pass sometime in the course of next year.”
Spencer said there “will be some disappointment about that,” calling the lack of immediate move to Game Pass “a little bit of a downer.” Compare this rollout to Microsoft’s $7.5 billion Bethesda buyout, which cleared regulatory hurdles in 2021. At that time, Xbox was quick to start porting some of the company’s biggest game franchises—including Fallout, Doom, and The Elder Scrolls—directly into its subscription service.
Bethesda’s more recent blockbuster (and Xbox console exclusive) Starfield hit Game Pass right at release as Xbox has pushed more and more consumers toward its subscription service. Other Bethesda titles such as Deathloop were made timed exclusives. This time around, Microsoft claims it won’t try to gatekeep some of Activision’s biggest franchises, at least according to the man in charge. Spencer said in the podcast that Xbox won’t limit content or performance on other consoles for Activision’s biggest franchises.
“We have no goal of somehow trying to use Call of Duty to get you to buy an Xbox console,” Spencer said. “I want the Call of Duty nation to feel supported across all platforms.”
Though that does leave it open for some amount of exclusivity on other, smaller franchises. Activision still has a marketing deal with Sony, though Spencer and Microsoft President Brad Smith both declared that Microsoft signed an agreement to keep CoD on the PlayStation going forward.