Microsoft to release next 'Call of Duty' game on subscription service, source says

Microsoft logo is seen on a smartphone placed on displayed Activision Blizzard logo in this illustration taken January 18, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

(Reuters) -Microsoft plans to release the coming installment of the "Call of Duty" videogame to its subscription service, in a departure from its longtime practice of only selling the title independently, a source familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The move is expected to be announced at the company's annual Xbox showcase, scheduled for June 9, the person said on the condition of anonymity as the plans are private.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. The Wall Street Journal first reported the news on Friday.

Microsoft acquired "Call of Duty" through its buyout of Activision Blizzard in a $69 billion deal, which closed late last year.

The first-person shooter video-game is among the most successful entertainment properties and has generated more than $30 billion in lifetime revenue.

Activision has long released new editions of the game annually priced at around $70 each in recent years.

The development comes just days after Xbox President Sarah Bond said in a conference the company plans to release all first-party Xbox games on Game Pass on the day of their launch.

Microsoft manages a subscription service called Game Pass, which offers access to games from Xbox and other developers for a fee.

The Redmond, Washington-based company has tried to build out the Netflix-style game subscription services aggressively in recent years as part of its efforts to break the dominance of PlayStation consoles made by Japanese rival Sony Corp.

Microsoft said in February Game Pass had 34 million subscribers, up from the 25 million it reported in 2022.

Analysts said the launch of "Call of Duty" — a franchise with a large and loyal fan base — would help draw more people to Game Pass but could affect the overall sales generated by the title.

"Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III", released in November 2023, is the second-best selling game so far this year. It trails Sony's "Helldivers II", according to industry tracker Circana.

(Reporting by Yuvraj Malik in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Aditya Soni and Zaheer Kachwala Editing by Shilpi Majumdar and Shounak Dasgupta)

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