Following the near closure of Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard, gaming enthusiasts can anticipate the latest games from Activision Blizzard to be featured on Xbox Game Pass by 2024. Currently, with the negotiation up to the discretion of a UK regulator, Microsoft aims to finalize the deal by the forthcoming Friday.
Exclusion of Modern Warfare III and Diablo IV from 2023 Game Pass
In an ambiguously timed post on X that has since been removed, Activision Blizzard shed light on eager fans' questions concerning upcoming and freshly released games' availability on Game Pass. The gaming giant clarified that Call of Duty Modern Warfare III and Diablo IV would not make the 2023 Xbox Game Pass list. However, the company mentioned, “once the deal closes, we expect to start working with Xbox to bring our titles to more gamers worldwide. We anticipate that we'd begin adding games to Game Pass sometime next year.“
Existing Activision Blizzard Games: A Possible Early Addition to Game Pass?
Despite addressing queries about impending and newly-launched games, Activision Blizzard subtly avoided discussing the potentially-sooner addition of its plethora of older games to the Game Pass. Notably, there is a significant stockpile of existing Call of Duty games that enthusiasts foresee would join the Xbox Game Pass.
In July, preceding the original deal deadline, Microsoft went the extra mile to rectify several Xbox 360 Call of Duty titles that had been bowl over for matchmaking issues for several years. This resolution included fan-favorites such as Call of Duty: Black Ops and the original Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Consequently, there is speculation that this simultaneous rectification may not have been a sheer coincidence just as the last stages of the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard acquisition deal were being set up.
However, it is important to note that Activision Blizzard has currently signed an exclusive marketing agreement with Sony for Call of Duty. The CMA previously noted that this deal would postpone the arrival of new Call of Duty versions on Xbox Game Pass until 2025. But the exact end-date of this exclusivity is uncertain in light of the recent 10-year Call of Duty deal between Microsoft and Sony. If Microsoft's proposed acquisition closes before the October 18th deadline, Activision Blizzard's recent releases will not be seen on Xbox Game Pass this year.
Closing the Deal: Making a Gaming Giant
Microsoft's decision to acquire Activision has faced several obstacles. The had to face the UK Competition and Markets Authority, European Commission, and the US Federal Trade Commission, who all feared that Microsoft would become too powerful in the cloud gaming market. Microsoft also had to deal with Sony, the rival console maker, who was desperate to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation.
Microsoft has promised to keep Call of Duty accessible to everyone, not just Xbox and PC gamers. It has signed 10-year contracts with cloud gaming services like Boosteroid, mobile operators like EE in the UK, and even Nintendo. But Sony has been stubborn, refusing to cooperate with Microsoft and lobbying regulators to block the merger. Sony has accused Microsoft of plotting to ruin Call of Duty on PlayStation, a game that Sony has confessed is “irreplaceable”.
But Sony's resistance was futile, as a US court dismissed the FTC's case against Microsoft and Activision, clearing the way for the merger to go ahead. Sony had no choice but to make peace with Microsoft and secure a deal for Call of Duty on PlayStation.