Activision recently released a webcast detailing their financial performance for the last quarter of 2016. Besides some interesting sales metrics, they also acknowledged the flaws and issues with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.
“Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is a high-quality, innovative game, that, paired with Modern Warfare Remastered, offered a tremendous amount of gameplay variety. However, sales underperformed our expectations, and it’s clear that for a portion of our audience the space setting just didn’t resonate.”
Activision defended its stance on the game, explaining that it allowed their teams to work on the projects they were passionate about. What happened next is a little more exciting:
“In 2017, Activision will take Call of Duty back to its roots, and traditional combat will once again take centre stage. This is what our dedicated community of Call of Duty players and Sledgehammer Games, who has been developing this year’s title, are the most excited about.”
This of course begs the question: what are the series’ roots? You could point to the World War II setting of the earlier games, but you could also argue that Modern Warfare was far more influential to the series’ future. Also, bear in mind that, despite being an annualised franchise, each Call of Duty game spends three years in development. So Sledgehammer’s game isn’t a response to Battlefield 1, because work on it would’ve begun in 2014.
In other Activision Blizzard news, the company broke records for monthly active users, with 447 million users per month. The vast majority (405 million) were mobile gamers, thanks to Activision’s acquisition of King Games. Overwatch became Blizzard’s best-performing game at launch, and even the venerable World of Warcraft saw a 10% growth in monthly users.
The take-home message of all this? Activision Blizzard had a great 2016, but they’re willing to admit their faults. With a new Call of Duty and Destiny 2 slated for 2017, hopefully they’ll apply the lessons they’ve learnt.