Why Microsoft Putting Black Ops 6 On Game Pass Is The Ultimate Test

Will Game Pass's subscriber growth outclass the possible sales profits?

Story Highlights

  • Black Ops 6 is coming to Game Pass Day One, a move that will influence some future decisions.
  • Will the Game Pass subscriber increase be enough to justify the potential loss of Black Ops 6’s sales?
  • Adding Black Ops 6 on Game Pass allows more aggressive monetization and a possible price hike.

Video game subscription services have completely changed the way we approach digital games these days. No more purchasing games at full price, or waiting for sales to pick out your favorite titles at a discount. Paying a fixed monthly price to access a ton of games is certainly an attractive prospect. However, to keep it so requires a steady supply of fabulous games in the lineup and some benefits you can’t obtain otherwise. Xbox’s Game Pass does this with its Day One releases.

YouTube video

Black Ops 6 Will Be A Day One Game Pass Release

If you need a hard-hitting title to promote a service, what better way to do so than a Call of Duty game? I don’t think I need to tell you just how big of a deal this monstrous franchise is. No matter what happens, a CoD will always be a big hit. This didn’t change when the series significantly fell in quality and became mostly a copy-pasted product, and it’s not going to change now, either.

It’s precisely because Call of Duty is such an integral piece that Microsoft and Sony went toe-to-to in the disputed Activision-Blizzard deal. Microsoft ended up being triumphant and is now planning to make full use of this high-profile purchase.

Considering what happened not too long ago, Xbox’s reputation is through the mud. With multi-platform titles taking away what little benefit it had, and then the closure of beloved studios, there’s no doubt Xbox’s popularity has taken a nosedive. Thus, it’s time to take some measures to recover from this; Microsoft’s ready to play its trump card, Call of Duty.

The next Call of Duty will be Black Ops 6. Although further details are yet to be revealed, one thing’s for sure. Black Ops 6 will be on Game Pass from Day One. This is a test that will have some crucial implications, some of which I’ll be discussing now.

Let's see what Black Ops 6 holds for us | Source: Xbox Wire
Let’s see what Black Ops 6 holds for us | Source: Xbox Wire

More Game Sales, Or More Subscribers

First, let’s discuss the most important reason behind this decision. From the multi-platform decision, we already know that Microsoft is slowly but surely shifting away from the Xbox platform, and thus Game Pass will be an integral income source. Adding the latest Call of Duty to its lineup will help grow the subscriber count exponentially because nothing sells quite like a CoD.

Will Game Pass grow exponentially with a Call of Duty on it? | Source: Xbox Wire
Will Game Pass grow exponentially with a Call of Duty on it? | Source: Xbox Wire

However, let’s look on the other side for a moment. Microsoft also owns Activision, and in turn, Call of Duty now. All sales of the game will benefit the company, and it’s a fact that Call of Duty sells. But, if it’s available as a subscription service on two platforms, one being the most widely preferred one, the game’s sales will surely be disturbed. It would sell more if it wasn’t on the service.

How Call of Duty is gonna get me to buy Black Ops 6
byu/CastuloG inCODZombies

This is the first test. Whether Call of Duty raises the Game Pass subscriber count enough to trump the projected sales Black Ops 6 would’ve made otherwise. If you ask me, I think putting Black Ops 6 on Game Pass in contrast to selling it normally might have the worse results. 

Will Game Pass Retain These Stats In The Long-Term?

Why do I think so? It’s because a momentary jump in subscriber count is a short-term benefit unless it’s sustained. What guarantee is there that the extra subscribers who joined because of Black Ops 6 won’t just leave after they’ve had their fun? Unlike a game that you can’t refund after playing for a certain duration, you’re free to leave Game Pass anytime.

This is the second test. Will Black Ops 6 only create a momentary spike in subscriber count before dying down, or will these increased numbers continue to climb and remain consistent even after a considerable time? 

Here’s another point. Putting a game as desperately wanted as Black Ops 6 can even justify a Game Pass service pricing modification. If Microsoft does increase the price, will the allure of a Call of Duty force people to buy it regardless? I mean, you’re still getting it cheaper than the full $70 price tag, right? Microsoft is counting on you to make this choice.

byu/IcePopsicleDragon from discussion

Black Ops 6 will be used to bolster the interest in the Game Pass service, and test whether people can tolerate a price increase if it means getting their hands on a Call of Duty.

One-Time Purchase, Or Multiple Short Transactions?

Let’s take a look at another possible purpose of this decision. A good revenue of Call of Duty games comes from the microtransactions, as hateful as they may be for me. However, people who already spent $70 on the game will be a little more cautious about spending more, and will try to make do with the F2P features as much as possible.

I’m OK with games going to $70 if it means that there are absolutely no microtransactions or extra cost DLC content
byu/subsarebought inPS5

By removing that hefty price tag, Microsoft is looking to gauge how much the revenue will increase from microtransactions. Since you practically got the game for free, you’ll be more inclined to spend in-game instead, to get better rewards, strengthen your gear, or gather cosmetics as per your artistic taste. 

I can never digest microtransactions | Source: falconbox (Reddit)
I can never digest microtransactions | Source: falconbox (Reddit)

So, the question arises. Are you more likely to spend a huge sum upfront, or pay it in segments over the course of your playthrough? If you ask me, Call of Duty’s earnings from microtransactions are already pretty significant. If you remove that initial $70 barrier, it will only increase. Will it surpass the sales the game would’ve made otherwise, only time will tell.


To conclude, the addition of Black Ops 6 on Game Pass is a major gamble, one that will decide a lot of Microsoft’s future strategies. The company is willing to let go of the massive sale potential of Call of Duty, in hopes of earning more from the Game Pass subscriptions and microtransactions. If it succeeds, the raise in Game Pass prices and microtransactions is almost inevitable, something I’d rather avoid at all costs.

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Hanzala is a dedicated writer who expresses his views as opinion pieces at eXputer. He's always been fascinated by gaming and has been an avid consumer of many different genres for over a decade. His passion for games has him eager to encounter the latest RPGs and actively look for new Soulslike to challenge. He puts forth his experience and knowledge of gaming into captivating opinion pieces.

Experience: 8+ months || Education: Bachelors in Chemistry.

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