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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is evidently on track to debut in 2022, according to Activision Blizzard’s first-quarter earnings report today.
In its earnings statement, the company said “this year’s Call of Duty is a sequel to 2019’s Modern Warfare.” Activision Blizzard is in the process of being acquired by Microsoft for $68.7 billion. In this context, no delay is a good thing, as the merger is likely to be somewhat disruptive and the company is still dealing with sexual harassment allegations in a lawsuit by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
The Modern Warfare 2 game will be a welcome edition, as the first (rebooted) title from 2019 was the most successful Call of Duty game in franchise history. By comparison, 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 net bookings on console and PC declined year-over-year in the first quarter, reflecting lower premium sales for Call of Duty: Vanguard versus the year-ago title and lower engagement in Call of Duty: Warzone. Call of Duty Mobile net bookings were little changed year-over-year.
The weakness had an impact on earnings as Call of Duty is the company’s biggest franchise. Overall, Activision Blizzard reported $1.77 billion in GAAP revenues for the three months ended March 31, compared to $2.27 billion a year earlier. Non-GAAP earnings per share were 64 cents, compared with 98 cents a year earlier.
Still, Activision claimed the Call of Duty teams delivered substantial gameplay improvements for Vanguard and Warzone in the first quarter. One of the things that happened in Warzone was that players can now use their guns from 2019’s Modern Warfare in the Caldera map in the Pacific theater. I played with my Modern Warfare loadout and it substantially improved my ability to hit targets with my leveled-up modern sniper rifle. But it led to complaints that snipers are dominating the World War II Warzone map now.
It also said that development on this year’s premium and Warzone experiences, led by Infinity Ward, is proceeding well. The new free-to-play Warzone experience, which is built from the ground-up alongside the premium game, features groundbreaking innovations to be revealed later this year.
However, Activision previously said that Warzone 2 would be coming in 2023, and it did not update that information today except to say it will have “groundbreaking innovations.” Meanwhile, there are reports that the 2023 Call of Duty game will be delayed until 2024. Activision did not address that rumor.
Activision said it continued to rapidly expand its Call of Duty development resources in the first quarter. Its teams are focused on delivering content to the community on PC and console, as well as expanding Warzone to the mobile platform.
On the diversity front, Activision Blizzard said that in March the federal court approved the company’s settlement with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), paving the way to compensate eligible complainants through an $18 million fund.
In April, the company announced the conversion of over 1,000 temporary workers to full-time employees, with most receiving increased wages and benefits (there is still an ongoing unionization effort). The company also announced the appointment of Kristen Hines as the company’s new Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer.