Microsoft: Game Pass Price to Remain Unchanged Despite ABK Merger

Game Pass has been a cornerstone of Microsoft’s gaming strategy since its inception six years ago. Initially launching on consoles in June 2017 and later expanding to PC, it has served as Microsoft’s equivalent of a Netflix-style subscription service for games, earning the endorsement of top company executives, including CEO Satya Nadella.

While Microsoft has clarified that Game Pass is not intended to replace traditional game purchases but rather provide an alternative option, every aspect of its strategy has been carefully aimed at promoting the subscription service. This includes the decision to integrate XCloud with Game Pass Ultimate and the substantial investments in first-party content acquisitions. Since E3 2018, Microsoft has purchased 15 game development studios, such as Playground Games, Obsidian Entertainment, and ZeniMax Online Studios. The games developed by these studios are either currently available or will soon be added to the Game Pass library.

Last year, Microsoft also made headlines with its monumental $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Following the announcement, the company confirmed that popular Activision Blizzard games like Call of Duty and Diablo would eventually be included in Game Pass. This revelation led gaming analysts such as Michael Pachter from Wedbush Securities to predict a potential quadrupling of Game Pass subscribers once these blockbusters are added to the service.

However, gamers have expressed concerns about potential price increases for the Game Pass subscription if titles like Call of Duty and Diablo are added. This speculation was fueled by the recent discontinuation of the longstanding $1 promotion for new customers.

Nevertheless, on page 25 of the memorandum defense against the FTC’s motion to block the Activision Blizzard merger, Microsoft’s legal team explicitly stated that there are no planned price increases due to the acquisition.

Finally, the FTC’s economic analysis overlooks crucial factors by disregarding the new
options that the merger will create for accessing Activision content.

With the acquisition, consumers will benefit from being able to play the latest Call of Duty release on Microsoft’s Game Pass, on the same day it launches on consoles, without any price increase for the service. Additionally, the game will be available on Nintendo platforms and other cloud streaming services.

Though it’s possible that this statement was made solely for the judge’s consideration, it seems unlikely that Microsoft would make such promises and immediately raise Game Pass prices upon completing the merger. It’s reasonable to assume that the current pricing will remain in place, at least temporarily.

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