The inclusion of Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 in the Game Pass is set to influence both Xbox and PlayStation platforms significantly

Microsoft has announced that the next Call of Duty premium edition will be available on its Game Pass subscription service from day one. This move is anticipated to strengthen Game Pass's consumer base and pose a potential challenge to Sony’s gaming market, although the overall impact remains speculative.

The strategy of incorporating first-party releases into Game Pass has been a key factor in its growing popularity over the years. Despite the high cost associated with acquiring Activision Blizzard, Microsoft was expected to integrate Call of Duty into Game Pass, as deviating from this policy could weaken the service's attractiveness.

Launching Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 on Game Pass is likely to attract new subscribers, particularly at the Ultimate and PC Game Pass levels. Although initial costs for Microsoft may be high, various factors are expected to mitigate expenses while boosting subscriber numbers:

  • Online gameplay tends to increase upgrades to Game Pass Ultimate from Console, leading to higher average revenue per user.
  • Offering early access to premium/ultimate edition purchasers, including those upgrading from Game Pass standard, can enhance early revenue streams, similar to the Starfield launch strategy in 2023.
  • As a live service game, Call of Duty generates substantial in-game revenue, shifting the focus from full-game sales to a broader monetizable player base.
  • Third-party cloud gaming services, like Nvidia’s GeForce Now, will also provide access to Call of Duty titles at launch, expanding franchise exposure.

Sony will face some disruption, as Call of Duty is a significant revenue driver for its storefront. However, the game’s live-service elements and the popular free-to-play Warzone will likely reduce the impact. Data from Ampere shows high monthly active users (22 to 26 million) across multiple platforms, including PlayStation, Xbox, and Steam.

Gamers with both Xbox and PlayStation may prefer Microsoft’s platform for premium experiences while continuing to play Warzone on their favored console. Ownership overlap in the US between disc-based PS5 and Xbox Series X is around 35% among 16-64 year olds, indicating significant dual-console ownership.

Gamers inclined to purchase new consoles could lean towards the Xbox Series, influenced by the inclusion of Call of Duty in Game Pass, though this may not substantially alter current sales trends. Call of Duty players, known for their high spending on gaming content, services, and accessories, could contribute to increased lifetime revenue for Microsoft’s gaming ecosystem.

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