Microsoft Activision deal: Blizzard games list, Ubisoft cloud gaming - will Call of Duty come to Game Pass?
This is how the deal news will affect gamers in the future
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The UK's competition watchdog has approved Microsoft's revised acquisition agreement of Call of Duty video game developer Activision, paving the way for one of the largest takeovers in the technology sector.
The CMA originally blocked the enormous buyout due to concerns in the cloud gaming industry, saying Microsoft’s partnership with Activision Blizzard would strengthen its position and “stifle competition in this growing market”.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the Xbox owner could go ahead with the takeover after agreeing to buy Activision without cloud gaming rights. The battle between Microsoft and the watchdog, which moved to block the deal in April, is now over after half a year.
The new deal, which was initially worth 69 billion US dollars (£56.6 billion at the current exchange rate), will stop Microsoft from having a “stranglehold” over the UK cloud gaming market, the CMA said, with Assassin’s Creed video game maker Ubisoft set to buy Activision’s cloud gaming rights instead.
What will it mean for gamers?
With the deal now set to go through, Microsoft will become the third biggest gaming company in the world by revenue behind Chinese company Tencent and PlayStation creator Sony.
Acquiring Activision Blizzard means that Microsoft would have 30 development studios under its growing “Xbox Game Studios” umbrella - including Bethesda, which it acquired in 2021 - ready and primed to create high-quality, exclusive content for its consoles.
Games made by those studios could be available exclusively on the Xbox consoles and Xbox Game Pass - though Microsoft has in recent months been keen to assuage fears that fans on rival platforms won’t outright lose huge franchises like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and Diablo.
Ubisoft has ambitious plans to offer new ways to access Activision’s content, including through multigame subscription services, the regulator said. It also means that cloud gaming providers will not have to use Windows systems for Activision’s gaming content, which could reduce costs.
Will Call of Duty come to Game Pass?
One of the biggest upsides of the Activision acquisition is that the Call of Duty games - the company's biggest property - will be able to make their way to Xbox Game Pass.
Game Pass is a subscription service which provides subscribers with access to a vast library of video games, including a wide range of titles from different genres and publishers. Subscribers can download and play the games in the library as long as they maintain an active subscription.
Just this week, Activision said that once the deal with Microsoft closes, it will begin working to add "games into Game Pass sometime in the course of next year."
However, according to some sources, Activision titles may be hitting the service sooner rather than later. Windows Central's Jez Corden says: "Our sources indicate (surprising nobody) that despite Activision's statement, you can expect to see a bunch of Activision stuff hit Xbox Game Pass as soon as the deal is finalised."
However, don't expect the latest titles in Activision's biggest franchises to be making their Game Pass debuts just yet, as the company said "we do not have plans to put Modern Warfare III or Diablo IV into Game Pass this year."
Will Call of Duty leave PlayStation?
To this point, new Call of Duty games have been multi-platform affairs, released on both Xbox consoles and PlayStations.
With the prospect of newly acquired Activision properties becoming Xbox exclusives, that's led to many fans (and there are a lot of them) wondering if CoD will soon be inaccessible to players on Sony's consoles.
"Even after we cross the finish line for this deal’s approval," Brad Smith, Vice Chair and President of Microsoft, said in a Tweet at the time, "we will remain focused on ensuring that Call of Duty remains available on more platforms and for more consumers than ever before."
Which games could come to Game Pass?
If all goes smoothly, here are over 50 that could be heading to Xbox Game Pass over the next year:
- 3D Ultra Minigolf Adventures
- Aces of the Galaxy
- Alaskan Adventures
- Assault Heroes 2
- Blizzard Arcade Collection
- Call of Duty 2
- Call of Duty 3
- Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
- Call of Duty Black Ops
- Call of Duty Black Ops 2
- Call of Duty Black Ops 3
- Call of Duty Black Ops 4
- Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War
- Call of Duty: Ghosts
- Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
- Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
- Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Not until at least 2024)
- Call of Duty: World At War
- Call of Duty: World War II
- Call of Duty: Vanguard
- Commanders: Attack
- Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
- Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time
- Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled
- Crash Team Rumble
- Diablo 2: Resurrected
- Diablo 3: Eternal Collection
- Diablo 4 (Not until at least 2024)
- Geometry Wars Evolved
- Geometry Wars 2: Evolved
- Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved
- Gin Rummy
- Golf: Tee It Up!
- King's Quest: The Complete Collection
- Prototype 2
- Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
- Skylanders SuperChargers
- Spyro Reignited Trilogy
- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2