Microsoft will soon announce its intention to release this year’s mainline Call of Duty game straight into Game Pass, according to a new report.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft will announce the plans during its Xbox showcase event in June.

“Microsoft plans a major shakeup of its video game sales strategy by releasing the coming installment of Call of Duty to its subscription service instead of the longtime, lucrative approach of only selling it a la carte,” WSJ reported. Microsoft declined to comment when contacted by the publication.

The report tallies with recent comments from Xbox president Sarah Bond, who indicated all Microsoft’s games, including those developed by the recently acquired Activision, will launch straight into Game Pass.

Microsoft has faced tough questions around the potential cannibalization effect of Game Pass, particularly on games that launch on the service day-one. While Xbox executives have insisted sales can be boosted by a game’s presence on Game Pass, some publishers remain unconvinced. Former Activision boss Bobby Kotick, for example, was always against putting Call of Duty into subscription services. Unlike Microsoft, console rival Sony does not release its new exclusives straight into its subscription service.

In an interview with IGN last year, Xbox boss Phil Spencer was asked how he’d handle his and Kotick’s different ideologies after the deal to buy Activision Blizzard closed. “Well, there’s a different person making the decisions,” Spencer laughed.

“Well, there’s a different person making the decisions.

New Call of Duty games sell for $70 and usually shift around 25 million copies per year, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. By releasing this year’s Call of Duty straight into Game Pass, Microsoft potentially risks cannibalizing those sales.

Of course, Activision will also launch Call of Duty across Xbox, PlayStation, and PC as a game that can be bought outright. But with Game Pass subscriber numbers failing to grow meaningfully Microsoft is under pressure to attract new customers, and adding a mainline Call of Duty game at launch will no doubt help with that.

This year’s Call of Duty is expected to be called Black Ops 6, after teasers discovered in Warzone were acknowledged by developer Treyarch. Microsoft is also rumored to be ready to release the Call of Duty back catalog of video games into Game Pass ahead of Black Ops 6’s release later this year.

Microsoft is in the process of cutting 1,900 staff from its gaming business. Earlier this month, the company shocked the video game world by announcing the closure of Hi-Fi Rush developer Tango Gameworks and Redfall developer Arkane Austin. There are fears more cuts are to come.

Wesley is the UK News Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter at @wyp100. You can reach Wesley at [email protected] or confidentially at [email protected].

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