Call of Duty’s Game Pass Launch Won’t Affect Sales That Much

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Call of Duty Will Still Thrive After Game Pass Launch!

Story Highlights
  • Despite releasing day one on Xbox Game Pass, Call of Duty sales won’t take a massive hit.
  • A huge number of Call of Duty players still use PlayStation as their default platform of choice.
  • PC users rely on Steam as their default platform and aren’t interested in subscription services much.

The Activision and Xbox merger had a huge impact on the industry. It also meant that one of gaming’s biggest franchises, Call of Duty, became a first-party Xbox title. While there were doubts at first, it’s finally time the humongous franchise joins Game Pass.

Sony desperately pushed against the merger as they believed it could cut off Call of Duty from their platform. However, they later reached an agreement to keep it multiplatform.

Now, while Black Ops 6 will be available on Game Pass, I believe overall sales won’t take a huge hit.

Why it matters: A Game Pass launch for this IP, on paper, means fewer sales for the retail version. However, that will not be true as the franchise is too big to be constrained by a subscription service.

Call of Duty Black Ops Frank Woods
Call of Duty Black Ops 6 will be the first game of the franchise to be released on Game Pass.

PC Users Will Still Rely On Steam

Subscription services are not that common among PC gamers. Therefore, many users don’t have access to Game Pass. Following the addition of Call of Duty, PC gamers might give the service a go, but Steam would still be the platform of choice.

We’ve seen multiple platforms on PC, including Epic Games Store, GOG, and EA Play, but none come close to the popularity of Steam. Plus, with how subscription services work, they aren’t that suitable for PC users.

You can buy a new game for, let’s say, $70 on Steam, and there are regular sales later on, too. But with Game Pass Ultimate, you are looking at over $200 to keep the game for a year.

Granted, there are other titles on the subscription, but for someone who just wants to play Call of Duty, this is a bad deal. However, that isn’t to say that the sales won’t be affected at all.

For PC users who actively use Game Pass, there won’t be any reason to purchase a $70 title when they already have an active subscription.

Call-of-Duty-Warzone-2.0
Microtransactions are a huge source of the revenue generated by the franchise.

Most Call of Duty Players Are On PlayStation

This is where things will be a little different, in my opinion, and can get a bit complicated. Call of Duty has constantly topped the charts as the most-played title on both PlayStation 4 and 5.

So, this means two things: either PlayStation players shift to PC or Xbox, or they continue to buy new releases at full price on their console. Out of these, the latter seems to be the most likely option for most.

It’s no secret that PlayStation has become the default platform of choice for most console users. They’ve dominated the competition when it comes to console wars and have also recorded the highest revenue ever with the PS5 generation.

Call of Duty Black Ops 6 Gulf War
PlayStation houses a gigantic number of Call of Duty players.

What About Everyone Else?

This leaves us with the community that specifically uses Xbox consoles. Since this platform is much smaller than PC or PS5, Activision likely did not benefit much from Series S|X and Xbox One sales to begin with.

Any potential loss could, therefore, be made up through additional Game Pass subscribers. Also, much of Call of Duty’s revenue comes directly from microtransactions. This makes the situation more nuanced.

Perhaps the slew of new subscribers will lead to higher microtransaction sales. This could, in theory, counter the potential loss to sales from platforms like Xbox Series S|X. There’s also the hardcore player to consider.

Someone who plays this series constantly throughout the year is more or less guaranteed to buy it anyway.

In my opinion, Game Pass will bring new players to Black Ops 6. It might hurt sales from casual fans who like to play the campaign or a few rounds of multiplayer before moving on, but most of this audience is already on PlayStation.

Black Ops 6 heading to the service is a huge deal, so there is a lot that cannot be predicted for now. I suppose we’ll wait and see how the subscription launch plays out.

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