2020 has been a strange year all around. Even aside from a pandemic changing how we do things, we’ve been ramping up to the release of next-gen consoles and yearly staple fall franchise Call of Duty experimented with the standalone free-to-play battle royale Warzone, which released in March. That experiment is paying off. In just five months since launch, it’s reached more than 75 million players. That’s a huge and steady increase from its previously reported 50 million at one month since launch.
Inherently tied to 2019’s Call of Duty Modern Warfare, Warzone allows players to play for free but also share progress within the premium release. This tie in has led to Modern Warfare adding more players during a “non-launch quarter” than any other Call of Duty in history, with a majority of the upgrades to Modern Warfare coming as conversions through Warzone. During the second quarter of this year, hours played in the Modern Warfare universe increased eight-fold year-over-year. PC in particular has seen life-to-date consumption of the title more than double the previous Call of Duty game, which would have been 2018’s Black Ops 4.
As a result of Warzone’s enormous success, in-game net bookings (battle passes, Call of Duty points, premium store purchases, etc.) more than doubled from the first quarter of the year and “were around five times higher” than this same reported quarter last year, reaching a new quarterly record for Activision.
With an enormous playerbase and proven success converting free-to-play players to the premium release, it makes sense then that Activision and Infinity Ward’s battle royale game would shift it’s focus to the next major premium Call of Duty release. In an interview with GamesRadar, Infinity Ward design director Geoff Smith confirmed that Warzone will “evolve and become tied to” other Call of Duty titles.
“Although Warzone is very closely tied to Modern Warfare, it was designed from the beginning as its own game,” Smith said. “As the game continues to be updated over time, it will evolve and become tied to other games in the Call of Duty universe.” Infinity Ward has previously confirmed that Warzone is a through-line that connects all of the Call of Duty games.
Rumors have swirled that an event in Warzone will reveal Call of Duty 2020—a game we now know to be Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War—and the Season Five roadmap teases a curious “Mid-Season Event”coming which should hit sometime around early September.
Yearly Call of Duty games are most often revealed in April or May before releasing in October or November of any given year. We’re now in August with no official word about the next game, though with an audience of 75 million interested players, Warzone would perfect venue to reveal a brand new Call of Duty game in a way that’s never been done before.