The Call of Duty franchise had its best-ever year in 2020, helping parent company Activision Blizzard post its biggest year in the company’s three decades of existence. The success of Call of Duty has encouraged Activision Blizzard to look to replicate its model across the company’s other franchises to fuel even further growth in the future.
As part of Activision Blizzard’s latest earnings report, CEO Bobby Kotick said the company’s approach to the Call of Duty series will be the model for its other series in the future. Call of Duty has undergone a transformation in recent years, as Activision now operates the franchise across numerous vectors. There is the premium yearly games, the free-to-play battle royale game Warzone, and the mobile game.
“Our approach to the franchise has become the roadmap we are now applying in many of our other games. Within Call of Duty, we have meaningfully expanded social connections and improved engagement through free-to-play experiences on mobile phones, computers and game consoles. These initiatives expanded franchise reach, with over 250 million people playing Call of Duty last year, more than tripling the 70 million people who played Call of Duty in 2018.”
Kotick also remarked that Call of Duty’s approach has made the franchise “more social than ever,” which he said is good for players and the business alike.
“Call of Duty players who play in groups with friends spend over three times more hours in the game and invest around three times more on in-game content compared to other players. And we’ve really only just started to scratch the surface of what’s possible for social interaction within our franchises,” he said.
Kotick stated that Activision Blizzard is undertaking various initiatives to “enhance the social nature of all of our key franchises” in the future.
“Call of Duty has also established a clear blueprint for franchise-based innovation and we’re applying this strategy across our other core franchises to grow reach, engagement and player investment,” he said.
Activision Blizzard, across all of its franchises, had around 400 million monthly active players in 2020, and Kotick said he wants to see that figure grow to 1 billion. Adopting the Call of Duty model is how the company will try to do this.
“Of course, we always begin the process with inspiration and creativity. We then offer great game play through free-to-play access to all consumers, availability on mobile phones, and continuous regular delivery of in-game content and premium content.”
Live services and microtransactions played a huge part in Activision Blizzard’s latest earnings, with microtransactions amounting to nearly $5 billion in 2020.
The full specifics of Activision Blizzard’s plan to adopt the Call of Duty model to its other franchises is unclear, but the company has been teasing this shift for some time. In 2020, management confirmed on multiple occasions that it would develop mobile games based on every franchise it has. It’s not hard to see why the company would do that, as mobile is the most popular platform for gaming in the US.
In other news, Activision Blizzard confirmed a new Call of Duty game for 2021 and announced that Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2 won’t release until 2022 at the soonest. Management also teased a new remaster project in the wake of a report that Vicarious Visions is working on a Diablo 2 remake.
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