Here’s the strategy: you find a genre that allows you to push out new titles every year, fill them with microtransactions, saturate the market to block any competitors, and never drop the price of past titles to ensure that users are always purchasing the most recent iteration.
If it sounds a bit strange, it still very much works: that is how Activision has been working with their Call of Duty franchise for the past decade, altering between Infinity Ward and Treyarch as developers while Activision holds the publishing rights.
This allows Activision to ultimately hold the cards: for the Call of Duty League, Activision is the sole decider of what is best for their esport and appearance, resulting in the admittedly strange aspect coming in 2021 where professional competitors will be playing on PCs with a controller.
The best in the world…at using aim-assist.
In spite of this tactic, some Call of Duty’s simply perform better, and when looking at the two most recent releases of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War through a provided lens from SuperData, there are some concerning metrics that they’ve managed to find between the two.
Modern Warfare revenue surpassed $600 million in just 3 days after launch. Today, SuperData revealed that Black Ops Cold War generated $678 million in about 6 weeks and that's with the Warzone integration. Ouch. ATVI's earnings call will be interesting on Feb 4th!
— Tom Henderson (@_TomHenderson_) January 6, 2021
The next earnings call from Activision is scheduled on February 4; which, as the tweet implies, should be an interesting opportunity to explore precisely how much Modern Warfare performed than the more recent Cold War.
The reasons for the currently reported gap between the two is subject of speculation: some posit that SBMM, in spite of helping players with less skill than your standard Twitch streamer, has had such a fuss kicked up that it has acted as a deterrent for the current title.
Others are stating that the bundled launcher, with three titles, is more to blame than SBMM or the standard litany of microtransactions. The alleged bricking of new consoles by Cold War also likely did not help matters further.
For the franchise as a whole, it likely means very little: Activision has pushed out poorly-received Call of Duty titles in the past, and we’ll likely be viewed as little more than the dop in the bucket as slight mechanics are altered between iterations that come out like clockwork.
Call of Duty is more than safe, and fans frankly shouldn’t be concerned about the future and health of the franchise. It appears that only Cold War of the past few iterations is struggling, and Activision will move on soon enough.