So when is Call of Duty coming to Game Pass?

Last October, Microsoft completed its $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard and taken ownership of a raft of huge gaming properties, not least among them Activision’s Call of Duty series. Microsoft is now theoretically free to add all Activision Blizzard games to its Game Pass subscription service on Xbox and PC. So it’s natural to wonder when Call of Duty games — 2024’s installment in particular — will hit Game Pass.

When is Call of Duty coming to Game Pass?

According to the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft intends to release the next Call of Duty game directly on Game Pass on day one. The game doesn’t have a title or release date yet, but on previous form can be expected in late October or early November 2024. Microsoft is expected to unveil the game and detail its release plans at the Xbox showcase on June 9. However, Microsoft has so far made no official comment on when Call of Duty games might be coming to Game Pass.

Activision Blizzard, moving to get ahead of speculation before the completion of the deal with Microsoft, said on Oct. 9, 2023 that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and its other big 2023 release, Diablo 4, wouldn’t be added to Game Pass that year, but said it did plan plan to begin adding games to Game Pass in 2024. Indeed, Diablo 4 was added to Game Pass back in March, but Call of Duty so far remains notable by its absence.

Speaking to the official Xbox podcast on Oct. 17, 2023, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said, “The regulatory process took so long […] that we weren’t able to get in and work with Activision Blizzard on that back catalog work. Now that the deal is closed, we’re starting that work, but there is work.” Spencer continued: “The fact that we’re not hitting day one with a bunch of games dropping in to Game Pass is a little bit of a downer, but I’m very excited about the future.”

When will old Call of Duty games come to Game Pass?

This is unclear. Microsoft could have added older Call of Duty titles to Game Pass by now, and many expected it to, but it hasn’t. Microsoft began adding Bethesda games to Game Pass within weeks of that deal being completed in March 2021. The initial list ran to 20 games, focused on back catalog titles. But this hasn’t happened for Activision Blizzard games.

As for the most recent game in the series, Modern Warfare 3, Activision has a marketing deal with Sony that will probably preclude that game’s arrival on Game Pass for anything from six months to a year. It also has a well established marketing and business plan for Call of Duty that works on an annual schedule, which Microsoft may not want to ride roughshod over. For those reasons, we wouldn’t expect to see Modern Warfare 3 on Game Pass until the end of 2024 — at which point it would be overshadowed by the new game, anyway.

Perhaps Microsoft wants to make the biggest splash possible by having the first Call of Duty title to hit Game Pass be 2024’s brand-new installment. Microsoft may choose to put a range of Call of Duty games on the service at the same time — or it might just focus on the big new release.

When will other Activision Blizzard games like Diablo, World of Warcraft, and Overwatch come to Game Pass?

A clue to Microsoft’s strategy is its handling of Diablo games on Game Pass. Once again, many expected older games like Diablo 3 and Diablo 2 Resurrected to appear on Game Pass quite soon after the acquisition, but this didn’t happen. Instead, the latest release, Diablo 4, arrived with a splash in March 2024. It seems Microsoft is less focused on putting the whole Blizzard back catalog on Game Pass than it was with Bethesda.

One of the biggest unknowns is World of Warcraft. The massively multiplayer game will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2024, but still enjoys a healthy audience which pays WoW’s own monthly subscription fee to play it. Will Microsoft be willing to cannibalize this revenue stream for the sake of what would be a unique and substantial value-add to Game Pass? Perhaps it will, but it’s a difficult calculation to make — so we wouldn’t expect to see it in the first wave of games added, if at all.

As for Overwatch 2, it’s a free-to-play game, so this is less relevant. But Game Pass subscribers have already received some perks for the title, including immediate unlocks for some of the game’s heroes.

Update (Oct. 13, 2023): This article has been updated to reflect the completion of Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard on Oct. 13.

Update (Oct. 18, 2023): This article has been updated with comments from Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer.

Update (May 21, 2024): This article has been updated to reflect the addition of Diablo 4 to Game Pass and reports that the next Call of Duty will come to the service.