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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is apparently on track to debut in 2022, according to Activision Blizzard’s first-quarter earnings report released today.
“This year’s Call of Duty is a sequel to 2019’s Modern Warfare,” the company said in its earnings report. Activision Blizzard is being acquired by Microsoft for $68.7 billion. In this case, no delay is a good thing, because the merger could be somewhat disruptive, and the company is still dealing with sexual harassment allegations in a lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
The Modern Warfare 2 game will be a welcome release, as the first (reboot) game of 2019 is the most successful Call of Duty game in franchise history. In contrast, last year’s “Call of Duty: Vanguard” was set in World War II, and the game sold relatively poorly.
Activision didn’t say how many units it sold, but it noted in its earnings report that Call of Duty’s first-quarter net bookings on consoles and PC were down year-over-year, reflecting premium sales of Call of Duty: Pioneer The amount is lower than that of Call of Duty: Vanguard. Titles and Call of Duty: Warzone from a year ago saw less engagement. Call of Duty mobile web bookings were little changed year-over-year.
Since Call of Duty is the company’s largest franchise, the weakness took a toll on earnings. Overall, Activision Blizzard reported GAAP revenue of $1.77 billion for the three months ended March 31, compared with $2.27 billion a year earlier. Non-GAAP earnings per share were 64 cents, compared with 98 cents a year earlier.
Still, Activision claims that the Call of Duty team brought substantial game improvements to Vanguard and Warzone in the first quarter. One of the things happening in Warzone is that players can now use the guns from Modern Warfare 2019 in the Caldera map in the Pacific Theater. I played with my Modern Warfare gear and it greatly improved my ability to hit targets with my upgraded modern sniper rifle. But that has led to complaints that snipers now dominate WWII theater maps.
It also said that the development of this year’s premium and Warzone experiences, led by Infinity Ward, is progressing well. Built from the ground up alongside premium gameplay, the new free-to-play Warzone experience features groundbreaking innovations and will be announced later this year.
However, Activision has previously said that Warzone 2 will launch in 2023, but it didn’t update that information today, other than to say that it will have “breakthrough innovations.” Meanwhile, reports have suggested that the 2023 Call of Duty game will be delayed until 2024. Activision did not respond to the rumor.
Activision said it continued to rapidly expand its Call of Duty development resources during the first quarter. Its team is focused on delivering content to the community on PC and console, as well as expanding Warzone to mobile platforms.
On the diversity front, Activision Blizzard said a March federal court approved the company’s settlement with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), paving the way for an $18 million fund to compensate eligible complainants.
In April, the company announced it was converting more than 1,000 temporary workers to full-time employees, most of whom had increased wages and benefits (union is still ongoing). The company also announced the appointment of Kristen Hines as the company’s new Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer.
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