‘Call of Duty’ has been around as a video gaming franchise for many years now, and we’re used to it being big news. Every time a new game in the series is announced, the internet comes to a standstill as people go looking for news about it. Pre-orders for the game sell out in record time. People even book days or weeks off work so they can play their new game. This is often to the despair of their partners, who accept that they’re not going to be seeing much of their significant other for a while after the game has been released.
Because of the game’s success, it’s become a bankable way of making money for Activision, its publisher. There’s a whole range of different ‘Call of Duty’ spin-offs and tie-ins available to fans who are willing to pay for them. We’ve seen the game re-imagined for mobile slots websites like Rose Slots, very few video games become mobile slots; in the past, we’ve seen classics like ‘Tomb Raider’ and ‘Street Fighter’ get the mobile slots treatment, but it’s almost unheard of for a modern game like ‘Call of Duty.’ Now, the franchise has broken through into yet another format, and it’s already a huge hit.
A mobile-phone-based ‘Call of Duty’ game was released at the start of October, and it’s shattered first-week download records. The game has already been downloaded more than one hundred million times, and in the process has surpassed the numbers of well-established favorites. As a basis for comparison, the ‘Pokemon Go’ game, which seemed to be everywhere a few years ago, did 85 million downloads. The mobile version of ‘Mario Kart Tour,’ which is far more recent, did 90 million. ‘Call of Duty’ is ten million clear of any other mobile game in the first week of release in history.
What’s made this achievement all the more impressive is that it’s happened while there’s supposed to be a boycott going on against the game’s publisher. The hashtag #boycottblizzard has been trending all week on Twitter in reference to a gamer who has been banned from playing Activision Blizzard games online for a full year after he spoke in support of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests during a live stream of the game ‘Hearthstone.’ Activision has defended the decision, stating that it was a clear violation of their terms and conditions, and the ban would have been imposed regardless of which cause the user-supported. Those who are protesting online are far from convinced.
Officially, the user was banned because Activision’s rules say that users cannot deliberately cause offense, or damage the company’s image. The matter is slightly complicated by the fact that the live stream was of an officially-sanctioned Activision tournament, which means that any controversial comment made by any user was always likely to fall under the ‘damage the company’s image’ category. Activision has treated the matter the same way they would treat any user who was found to be using racist or sexist language.
The people calling for a boycott, on the other hand, have pointed out that Activision is currently in an advanced phase of negotiations to make the new mobile game available in China. If China approves the game – which is far from a certainty, given the company’s stance on violent video games in the past – the one hundred downloads the game has achieved so far will become a drop in the ocean. China has an enormous gaming market, and thus given the popularity of the franchise, it’s likely that the mobile version of ‘Call of Duty’ would go on to become the most successful mobile video game of all time, in any format.
What’s clear based on the numbers is that the boycott isn’t having any impact on the game’s success. Although there is a hardcore of ‘Call of Duty’ fans (and gamers in general) who pay close attention to everything that happens within the video games market, the majority of ‘Call of Duty’ players are casual fans. They’re unlikely to know that there’s an attempted boycott in progress, or even that there’s been an incident that’s created calls for a boycott. Even if they did, it’s unlikely that Activision’s willingness to put political causes aside in an attempt to do business in China would reduce their desire to play ‘Call of Duty.’
Boycotts and mobile sales aside, the remainder of 2019 is going to be big for Activision and their flagship property. Later in October, ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’ will be released on all major video gaming consoles, and also on PC. While it’s not a strict reboot of the game of the same name which helped to establish the reputation of the series, it’s a return to the more authentic war-simulation style of ‘Call of Duty’ past. The futuristic and comedic elements that have become commonplace in more recent games are gone, and instead, the focus will return to the gritty reality of war. It’s also been described as the most violent, gory, and gruesome ‘Call of Duty’ game to date, which is likely to attract the ire of some censors and conservative pressure groups.
Looking further into the future, there is also a new ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops’ game scheduled to be released in 2020. Like ‘Modern Warfare,’ the title is a name from the past of the series, and it’s expected that it will also be a ‘revival’ style game which is designed to evoke memories of the past while using the technology of the present to enhance the experience for gamers. What’s not clear yet is whether the 2020 game will be released on the current generation of consoles, or whether it’s intended to be the first installment of the series on the variety of next-generation consoles which will go on sale next year.
Whatever the case turns out to be, it looks like ‘Call of Duty’ will continue to make enormous sums of money for the foreseeable future, on every format it becomes available on. Mobile games are just a new frontier, and no amount of boycotts or social media protests are going to get in its way.