Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 is coming to Game Pass on day one

 Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 coming to Game Pass on day one.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 coming to Game Pass on day one.

It's official: Microsoft confirmed today that Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 will be available "on day one" on Game Pass.

Putting Black Ops 6 on Game Pass on launch day is a big deal. Call of Duty is one of the biggest videogame series in the world, and arguably the crown jewel in Microsoft's $68.7 billion acquisition of publisher Activision Blizzard in 2023. It's a huge get—and as associate editor Ted Litchfield noted when rumors of the Game Pass release first surfaced, it leaves Microsoft with kind of an ironically tricky question of what exactly it wants to do with it.

Leaving Call of Duty alone to print money is obviously one option, but Microsoft's bigger-picture gaming aspirations lean heavily on the Game Pass service, and that seems to be flagging of late: Subscription rates are reportedly slumping, a slowdown driven at least in part by a lack of worthwhile new games over the past year or so. It was a year ago this month that we recommended cutting Game Pass loose until it had better things to offer, and while "better" is a very subjective appraisal, it's hard to argue that the newest Call of Duty game doesn't qualify.

But while adding Black Ops 6 to the lineup on launch day would undoubtedly be a big boost for Game Pass, it also risks cannibalizing retail sales to some degree. Apart from the financial hit, that could put Microsoft in a tough spot in years to come: Pulling future Call of Duty releases from Game Pass because the up-front losses are too big would not make the company any friends, and could risk depressing subscription rates even further.

For now, though, it's a done deal, and I would bet we'll be hearing triumphant year-end announcements about the remarkable surge in Game Pass subscriptions the launch of Black Ops 6 helped generate. Whether that holds up over the long term, we shall see.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 will be fully revealed in a June 9 livestream that will immediately follow the Xbox Games Showcase that begins at 10 am PT/1 pm ET. In the meantime, Microsoft is already using Black Ops 6 to prop up the rest of Game Pass, saying, "we’ve got a (figurative) mountain of games for you to check out and play while waiting for that pre-install button to light up."