Mobile gaming remains one of the hottest growth areas in the games industry, as evidenced by Take-Two Interactive’s acquisition of Zynga, Electronic Arts’ purchase of Glu Mobile, and Sony getting deeper into mobile with the launch of PlayStation Studios Mobile, to name just a few. Activision Blizzard has had a strong presence in mobile for years thanks to its King subsidiary, which operates Candy Crush, but more recently the publisher’s tentpole franchise, Call of Duty, has amassed more than $1.5 billion in mobile revenues, according to SensorTower.
Keeping its momentum in mobile, Activision is now looking to extend its popular free-to-play, battle royale title, Call of Duty: Warzone, to the mobile arena. Launched in 2020, Warzone was enormously successful for Activision and helped propel the franchise’s lifetime revenue to $30 billion. Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile, set for launch in 2023, will bring 120-player matches to both Android and iOS, and appears to be part of a bigger plan by the publisher to fully unify the Call of Duty ecosystem.
As described by Activision, “Leveraging new unified technology across Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0 and Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile, players can share many social features (like friends and chat channels) and cross-progression enabling a shared Battle Pass and more for a connected Call of Duty experience.”
Offering cross-progression and a shared Battle Pass is as smart move that should lead to more cross-pollination and higher player counts across each game. As popular as the first Call of Duty: Mobile has been, at the moment, Call of Duty fans spend considerably more time playing on PC and/or consoles than on mobile. According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, Call of Duty fans in the US play around 10 hours weekly on PC/console compared to just 5 hours on smartphones.
It’ll be interesting to see how those numbers shift as Activision devotes more resources to mobile gaming. Warzone Mobile is promising “an amazing handheld experience,” with “everything from movement, aiming and weapon handling, to physics, animations and sound… optimized for mobile gaming.” Players will also see mobile-specific events, playlists, and content. Esports plans haven’t been explicitly laid out, but it would not be surprising for tournaments to be structured around Warzone Mobile as well.