Call of Duty: Warzone, despite still being one of the hottest dogs when it comes to the battle royale genre, is bleeding players fast. According to Activision, the free game has lost more than 50 million active users in the last year. The publisher, who reported these stats on an investor call, blames Call of Duty: Vanguard’s poor performance.
While Warzone has been struggling with other issues as well, Vanguard’s poor reception definitely contributed to this slump. As the battle royale game has been integrated with every mainline release since its own launch in 2019, Vanguard made its mark on the game most notably with the introduction of the Caldera map, moving the action to an island in the Pacific theater. of the Second World War. .
Warzone’s Vanguard-fueled issues occurred almost immediately, as the map was delayed and poorly received when it was finally released. Many player testimonials sound similar, stating that daily logins from when the Verdansk map defined Warzone became sparse until they shut down entirely after Caldera was introduced.
Call of Duty: Vanguard as a whole underperformed. Yet another return to the WWII setting, the game didn’t feature any interesting innovations or angles that might have made this much-explored era in video games interesting to the general public once again.
A marketing campaign with some tonal flaws, a campaign that failed to captivate most fans, and a multiplayer mode riddled with bugs, cheats, and poor design decisions resulted in poor reviews and sales. The game’s zombies mode also received criticism, and Activision addressed these issues, and its earnings below predictions by approximately $300 million, in an investor call.
“While Call of Duty remains one of the most successful entertainment franchises of all time, our 2021 premium release fell short of our expectations, we believe primarily due to our own execution. The game’s WWII setting didn’t resonate with some of our community and we didn’t deliver as much premium gameplay innovation as we would have liked.” – Activision
The publisher also attributes the rapid bleeding of Warzone players to Vanguard’s poor performance, as well as general IP issues. Since details of the investor call became public, this tactic has drawn the ire of a company that spent the past year embroiled in one of the biggest and worst workplace mistreatment industry scandals we’ve ever seen. seen.
Sledgehammer Games hasn’t had the best track record when it comes to developing well-received mainline Call of Duty titles, but the studio was also working under grueling circumstances to stick to an annual release schedule amid pandemic restrictions, while more and more reports of Abuse towards Activision employees surfacing.
Meanwhile, along with Infinity Ward and Raven Software, just about everyone involved in Call of Duty was fighting a desperate battle against cheaters in Vanguard and Warzone multiplayer. Cheaters in Battle Royale were a major issue from launch and also contributed to a drop in player numbers.
News that fan-favorite developer Infinity Ward is working on this year’s Modern Warfare 2 as the main Call of Duty game, while also preparing a full Warzone 2 with a goal of a 2023 release, indicates that the franchise will soon reverse its fortunes; however, the problems of mismanagement and toxic conditions in the workplace continue.
Now that Activision is trying to shift the blame for Call of Duty’s current crash, another lawsuit has been leveled at the controversial company, which is facing a Microsoft buyout. While the latest lawsuit, specifically targeting CEO Bobby Kotick’s motivations for negotiating the purchase, doesn’t directly relate to Call of Duty, it does serve as key context that underscores widespread problems at the company.
While there were enough technical and holistic issues with Vanguard and Warzone to answer why 50 million players quit, it’s also important to consider that many simply chose not to support a company like Activision’s products anymore; they certainly gave players plenty of reasons to do so. boycott in the last year.
Even in the midst of this historic decline for the leading military FPS, Call of Duty remains a front-page IP and one of the most successful and popular media franchises on the market. With Modern Warfare 2 on the horizon, we suspect there’s going to be a big uptick.