Call of Duty is the gift that keeps on giving for publisher Activision Blizzard. The company’s first quarter saw 27% revenue growth to $2.28 billion largely thanks to the blockbuster shooter franchise and a growing mobile fanbase. CoD: Mobile has recently surpassed $1 billion in player spending. Meanwhile, monthly active users for all of Call of Duty (including Warzone and CoD: Mobile) have surged 40%.
With more people playing games during the pandemic, it’s not surprising to see this momentum, but it’s also not sustainable without ongoing support and reinvestment from Activision. That’s why Call of Duty developer Sledgehammer Games, which is currently leading development on the next triple-A installment, has opened a brand-new Toronto studio, and Crash Bandicoot 4 developer Toys For Bob was recently called upon to support the latest season of Warzone. It’s now all hands on deck for Call of Duty, as every studio within Activision is contributing to the mega franchise on some level.
While some gamers may bemoan the complete dedication to one franchise, which could come at the expense of other properties in Activision’s portfolio, the publisher is smart to leverage its biggest IP across platforms. With free-to-play and mobile, Call of Duty’s expansion has enabled Activision to reach a bigger audience around the world than it ever has before. As CFO Daniel Alegre explained on a recent earnings call, “Our Call of Duty F2P Warzone and mobile experiences have transformed the franchise, more than tripling the number of monthly players over the last two years and adding over a billion dollars of operating income to Activision segment results last year.” Interpret’s New Media Measure® provides further evidence of Call of Duty’s incredible growth, as the franchise’s fanbase has increased in every age group, even among Baby Boomers. Gen Z has seen the most expansion and now fully 42% (up from 37% a year ago) of this young demographic is a fan of Call of Duty. Additionally, the influx of fans has led to a boost for the Call of Duty esports business, as CDL’s viewership more than doubled during the recent championship.