Sony says gamers could be swayed in their choice of the console if Microsoft could acquire Activision Blizzard.
This year, Call of Duty is adding two games to its line-up, with Infinity Ward bringing Warzone 2.0 later this year alongside Modern Warfare II (coming on October 28 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One). Rumours have suggested that it could miss its annual release in 2023; Treyarch could be working on a free-to-play game and a new Zombies, but these have yet to be confirmed. Activision Blizzard’s quarterly business report confirms that there will be a “premium” Call of Duty on PC and console next year!
Here’s the relevant part from their earnings report: “The fourth quarter [of 2022] will usher in a new era for the Call of Duty franchise. Anticipation is high for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, planned for release on console and PC. The sequel to 2019’s Modern Warfare, the most successful Call of Duty title, will lead the most ambitious rollout across the franchise. An all-new Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0 experience, tightly integrated with the premium game, will launch as an extension of the Modern Warfare universe later this year. Activision’s expanded studios continue progressing on an innovative mobile experience that will extend Warzone to the largest and fastest growing platform. Across the Call of Duty ecosystem, the teams are well positioned to support these launches with substantial live operations while also continuing development of new premium content planned for 2023 and beyond.” The key is in the last sentence: there will be a paid game next autumn!
In Brazil, regulators and the government have asked tech companies what they think about Microsoft’s takeover bid for Activision Blizzard. The responses from Amazon, Google and Sony, have been published. It showed up on the ResetEra forum and translated into English by VGC. We’ll quote Sony’s response:
“According to a 2019 study, ‘The importance of Call of Duty to entertainment, in general, is indescribable.’ The brand was the only video game IP to break into the top 10 of all entertainment brands among fans, joining powerhouses such as Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Call of Duty is so popular that it influences users’ choice of console, and its community of loyal users is entrenched enough that even if a competitor had the budget to develop a similar product, it would not be able to rival it.
Each annual Call of Duty release takes 3-5 years to develop. As Activision releases one Call of Duty game annually, this equates to an annual investment of hundreds of millions of dollars. Approximately 1,200 people work on each version, and another 1,500 are involved in publishing and distribution. Thus, Call of Duty alone has more developers than most game companies employ across its entire development portfolio, including AAA studios. Also, given its plans to recruit 2,000 additional developers by 2021, Activision probably expects Call of Duty to become even more successful in the future. No other developer can devote the same level of resources and expertise in game development. Even if they could do that, Call of Duty is overly entrenched so that no rival can catch up, no matter how relevant they are.
It is synonymous with first-person shooter games and essentially defines that category. It is also demonstrated by player engagement on social media: Call of Duty has over 24 million followers on Facebook versus 7 million for Battlefield; and over 12 million followers on Instagram versus 2 million for Battlefield. Players would be unlikely to switch to alternative games, as they would lose that familiarity, those skills and even the friends they made playing the Call of Duty games. Even weaker years like 2021, Call of Duty still outperformed most other games by a considerable margin. Call of Duty: Vanguard (2021), for example, was widely regarded as weaker than previous years’ titles but was still one of the best-selling games of 2021. In other words, players remain loyal to the brand even in a bad year and continue to buy the game.”
During the first such question (back in January), Sony expected Call of Duty to remain multiplatform due to contractual agreements. Microsoft confirmed it, although only for the next three games. That trio includes Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, which is due in the autumn. As the franchise is one of the most popular titles on PlayStation platforms, Sony could take a hit if Microsoft snaps up CoD!