It seems Activision has hit a stride when it comes to monetization and content release for the Call of Duty franchise. Spurred on by the tail of 2019’s Modern Warfare, the release of Warzone and Black Ops Cold War, and the progression integration of all three titles, Call of Duty had a record year in 2020. The franchise saw over 100 million active monthly players, and more than 250 million people played Call of Duty in 2020. The NPD reported last month that it was the number one selling franchise in the US for the 12th year in a row.
The news comes via Activision Blizzard’s financial report and associated earnings call today. The company noted a “sharp” increase in sales of Black Ops Cold War following the Season One release and Warzone integration in December. They also stated that the Season One Battle Pass has been the “most consumed” since the shift to free content releases and a Battle Pass seasonal model back in 2019. Activision Blizzard also includes the success of Call of Duty Mobile, which saw its best quarter ever in Q4 2020.
Sales of in-game purchases, including Call of Duty Points for Battle Passes, premium cosmetic packs, and other promotional in-game packs, rose by 50% in Q4 2020 over Q4 2019, showing a strong adoption of the new model of monetization and free content updates throughout the year.
Looking at the franchise history, Call of Duty has generated more than $27 billion in sales and revenue since it first launched back in 2005. It also looks like Warzone, which has been an immense success, will be a central pillar of the franchise moving forward. Activision noted on the call that Warzone is “going to be front and center for us for a long time.” They also mentioned Warzone’s integration into Black Ops Cold War, and are taking notes for how to integrate it better in the future. “I want to thank our players for the feedback to each and every aspect of the game.”
It was also revealed that using Warzone as the center of the reveal for Black Ops Cold War brought a lot of attention to the game, and they plan to use Warzone as a central gathering place for the Call of Duty community in the future. While they didn’t unveil specific plans on the call, many expect this to result in a proper next-gen version of Warzone eventually, especially as the game nears its one-year anniversary. Activision also recently issued an update about cheating in Warzone as it continues to crack down on players who use cheats to gain an unfair advantage.
Finally, there is a new premium Call of Duty title coming later this year. Activision wouldn’t say which studio is behind it or offer any other details, but we can probably expect a similar reveal and release rollout to what Black Ops Cold War had in 2020. While Treyarch is most likely off the table for the 2021 game, that leaves Sledgehammer and Infinity Ward. Sledgehammer was supposed to be on the 2020 game before things shifted to Treyarch, so they make the most sense for this year’s game, unless Activision has something else up their sleeve. Either way, don’t expect to hear much more until midway through the year as Activision focuses attention on Warzone’s one-year anniversary in March, and the ongoing seasonal content releases for Black Ops Cold War and Warzone throughout the year.
The same earnings call also revealed that Blizzard’s Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 aren’t scheduled for this year.