Microsoft plans to release the upcoming installment of the “Call of Duty” video game on its subscription service, a departure from its longtime practice of selling the title only 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, speaking on condition of anonymity because 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” by buying out Activision Blizzard in a $69 billion deal that 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 at around $70 each in recent years.

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

Microsoft runs a subscription service called Game Pass that offers access to games from Xbox and other developers for a fee.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company has aggressively sought to build Netflix-style gaming subscription services 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 that Game Pass had 34 million subscribers, up from 25 million reported in 2022.

Analysts said the launch of “Call of Duty” — a franchise with a large and loyal fan base — would help drive more people to Game Pass, but could affect 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.

© Thomson Reuters 2024

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