Phil Spencer confirms that Activision Blizzard games won't come to Game Pass this year: 'Now that the deal is closed, we're starting that work, but there is work'

For gamers, one of the most alluring possibilities created by Microsoft's finally-completed acquisition of Activision Blizzard is the prospect of games like Call of Duty, Diablo, and Overwatch on Game Pass. Microsoft's subscription service is already a hell of a deal, and adding annualized iterations of Call of Duty plus everything Blizzard does makes it even more attractive. And it will no doubt happen eventually, but not anytime soon: Activision said last week that its games won't arrive on Game Pass until 2024 at the earliest, and in a recent interview with the Official Xbox Podcast, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said that timeline is "accurate."

Fans had their fingers crossed for a big Activision rollout in large part because that's what Microsoft did when it acquired Bethesda Softworks: Almost immediately after closing the deal, Microsoft dropped 13 Bethesda games including Dishonored, Skyrim, Fallout 4 and Prey onto Game Pass. Spencer said it wasn't possible to do that for the Activision Blizzard buyout because of the complexities of the approval process.

"The regulatory process took so long, and frankly there was a lot of uncertainty in that process up to a week before we closed—or the week of—when the CMA finally came down to their decision, that we weren't able to get in and work with mostly Activision Blizzard in this case, on that back catalogue work," Spencer said. "So now that the deal is closed, we're starting that work, but there is work.

"I would love it if there was some kind of secret celebration drop that's coming in the next couple of weeks. There's not."

Spencer said he believes the 2024 target shared by Activision last week is accurate, and that he's being very clear on the time frame because he wants to "be straight with people."

"If we were going to put them in the subscription this year, I would tell people," he said. "And I know there will be some disappointment about that. This acquisition is definitely long term, so the fact that we're not hitting day one with a bunch of games dropping in to Game Pass is a little bit of a downer, but I'm very excited about the future."

That future, Spencer said in the same interview, could include "revisited" versions of classic Activision and Blizzard games for Game Pass: "If teams want to go back and revisit some of the things we have, and do a full focus on it, I'm gonna be all in. I think there's an amazing trove of [games] we can go and touch on again."

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.