Activision May Regret Putting All Its Eggs In The ‘Call Of Duty’ Basket


Activision Blizzard is in crisis, thanks to a lawsuit filed by the state of California alleging mistreatment of women at the company for years. But the company has pressed forward with its usual slate of reveals and releases, namely the unveiling of Call of Duty Vanguard, the new yearly game in the series that’s heading back to WWII again.

At this point, the Activision part of Activision-Blizzard-King is pretty much solely dedicated to being a colossal Call of Duty-producing machine. Every studio they own is reportedly working on the franchise, and that spans some 2,000 people. We have (via VGC):

  • Sledgehammer Games – Leading development of Vanguard
  • Treyarch – Doing zombies mode for Vanguard
  • Raven – Working on Warzone
  • Infinity Ward – Still working on 2019’s Modern Warfare, and building the next installment
  • Beenox, Demonware, High Moon Studios, Activision Shanghai, and Toys for Bob – Working on a combination of Vanguard and Warzone as support

There’s your 2,000 workers, and Activision Blizzard says they have plans to hire 2,000 more. Though recruiting as of late has proven to be a problem.

While Call of Duty is a mega-franchise unlike any other in the industry, it does seem somewhat…unwise to see Activision put so many eggs in one basket. This is especially true now that Blizzard feels like it’s in total freefall. Blizzard has long been the other half of Activision that at least has a myriad of games under its umbrella rather than one. But Overwatch 2 has always seemed like a questionable prospect and Diablo 4 just lost many major leaders, including its director, in the misconduct investigation, and seems further away than ever.

We simply don’t see this with…any other major publisher. At least not to this degree. This is like if EA only made Madden games or Ubisoft only made Assassin’s Creed. Sony only made God of War or Nintendo put out yearly Mario installments and nothing else.

Call of Duty is still incredibly popular, but faces more competition than it ever has before, both in terms of similar games (this year alone, Battlefield 2042 and Halo Infinite), but also a separate front with Warzone (battling PUBG, Fortnite, etc). Call of Duty is a very strong performer, but no longer breaking its own records year after year like it used to. Warzone has been a solid revenue generator, but has also been decimated by cheaters to a degree where many players have fled.

I’m not saying the games aren’t performing well, but devoting thousands of people and your entire game production ecosystem to a singular franchise does not seem like the best idea, especially when your other half, Blizzard, almost feels like it’s on the verge of collapse these days. King? I suppose King will continue to be a mobile golden goose and another saving grace for the bottom line, and may help support this eternal Call of Duty dream.

Still, the day may come when this strategy takes a turn. And I woudn’t want to be a shareholder the day that the sole series you are relentlessly focused on starts to underperform, or be cast away in favor of newer, more exciting options from competitors.

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