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Activision Blizzard to launch ‘Full Premium Release’ for COD series

Activision Blizzard announced during the company’s Q3 2022 earnings results that the Call of Duty series would have a “full premium release” next year. Activision said it planned to release “the next full premium release in the blockbuster annual series, and even more engaging free-to-play experiences across all platforms.”

Activision is not announcing a brand-new game. A “full premium release” more likely refers to premium-priced content for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. According to Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier, the “full premium release” is an expansion for Modern Warfare 2.

“It’s called a full premium release because they’re probably going to market and sell it as a $70 game with new single- and multiplayer content. But it’s more MWII,” Schreier said.

Schreier added that Activision would release the next Call of Duty game in 2024. However, the company denied the claim, telling IGN it would not delay Call of Duty 2023.

“We have an exciting slate of premium and free-to-play Call of Duty experiences for this year, next year, and beyond. Reports of anything otherwise are incorrect. We look forward to sharing more details when the time is right,” Activision said.

Activision Blizzard reports declining sales

Activision reported declining sales despite Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 garnering a record-breaking $800 million in only three days. Activision said the poor performance was caused by “reduced engagement for Call of Duty.”

Compared to Q2 2022, its monthly active users increased to 97 million. However, the company still had fewer MAUs than last year, at 119 million in Q3 2021.

The company did not include Overwatch 2 in their report because the game launched after the end of Q3. However, Blizzard said there were over 35 million players, many of whom were new.

Activision then reported that Call of Duty: Vanguard’s poor performance was the main reason behind last year’s disappointing revenue. Players and critics said the game was cliche and boring when it launched in 2021, receiving a 3.3 rating on Metacritic.

Diablo Immortal performed better, earning over $300 million in revenue despite heavy criticism and backlash. Reviewers said the game was fun and satisfying but were unhappy with the microtransaction, calling the game pay-to-win. Some players even review-bombed Diablo Immortal as a form of protest.

Diablo Immortal also performed well in China, ranking in the top ten-grossing mobile games. However, Activision reported that there might be issues with the licensing deal in China. The expiration of some of Activision’s licensing agreements will affect several games but will not impact Diablo Immortal.

“We are in discussions regarding the renewal of these agreements, but a mutually satisfactory deal may not be reached,” Activision said. “We continue to see substantial long-term growth opportunities for our business in the country.

“The codevelopment and publishing of Diablo Immortal is covered by a separate long term agreement.”

Despite the decline in revenue, Activision has been actively hiring new employees after losing many following a series of controversies. The company was under fire these past years over issues such as toxic workplace culture and sexual harassment.

“Even in a challenging economic environment, with so many companies announcing hiring freezes and layoffs, our development headcount grew 25% year-over-year as of the end of the second quarter,” Kotick said.

The company is working on several major projects, including an unnamed survival game, Call of Duty 2023 and Diablo 4.