Activision has announced Call of Duty: Warzone now has over 75 million players - and signalled its intent to reveal this year's title in its battle royale.
Overnight, to coincide with its financial results, Activision confirmed both Treyarch and Raven Software are co-developing the next premium Call of Duty game, which Eurogamer has reported to be called Black Ops Cold War.
It?s official. Looking forward to showing you what we?ve been cooking up with @RavenSoftware!— Treyarch Studios (@Treyarch) August 4, 2020
This much about the game - and its troubled development - was known. And while Activision has already teased Black Ops within Warzone with the odd Easter egg, executives last night gave the clearest indication yet that a big reveal of Black Ops Cold War is around the corner.
Using Warzone as a platform to reveal Black Ops Cold War marks a significant departure for Activision in a number of significant ways. For one, the Modern Warfare and Black Ops brands are crossing over, which they traditionally do not do - with the standalone, free-to-download battle royale set to continue as a playground for the various Call of Duty franchises even as new premium titles are released.
And Activision has never announced a Call of Duty game in this way - or this late in the year - before. Traditionally, it announces the next Call of Duty in May, with reveals spread out over the upcoming months before launch in time for Christmas.
The success of Warzone sparked a change in Activision's marketing strategy, Activision Publishing boss Rob Kostich said last night in response to a question from Cowen and Company analyst Doug Creutz, who asked why it's taken so long for the next Call of Duty to be announced.
"The success of Warzone and Call of Duty Mobile in addition to, of course what we continue to see on our premium games has created a ton of new opportunities for the franchise," Kostich replied.
"And so, starting with marketing, it's definitely had an impact there and how we think about marketing in this new world. As you've seen from our results, right now, we have a larger, more-engaged and more global audience than we've ever had at any point in time in our history. And that means that we could be more direct and more targeted than we've ever been before. So, that's a huge benefit and plus for us as we think about marketing on that vector.
"Another thing, I think, that's really important for us as it relates to marketing is from storytelling - from a storytelling perspective, where we can be even more creative and so on and engaging with our fans than ever before.
"So, if you look at Warzone in particular, it's not only like a great game experience, but it's also a great platform for us to share new franchise news and information directly with our community like we haven't done before. So, this is also a big and positive change for us as we think about the business.
"And kind of to your initial point that you're talking about why you were waiting for such a long time, we are where we are, but it's Warzone I think that's caused us to rethink how, when and even where we reveal our upcoming title.
"So, we can't wait to share it with the community and we think it's going to be very different and more engaging than anything that we've ever done before. Now, as you heard on the call before, Treyarch and Raven are coming up with the next premium game, and obviously very excited on what they're working on and we do think fans are going to absolutely love it. The game works incredible right now. And internally people having a ton of fun playing across, its campaign mode as well as the online modes, the developers are very well known for. And so, all I can say in terms of timing is that, I expect you'll be hearing more about this fairly soon."
The burning question, of course, is how will Black Ops Cold War and Warzone work together. Currently, Modern Warfare and Warzone share the same battle pass. Modern Warfare and Warzone even share the same loudouts, which causes its own set of balance problems. Assuming Black Ops Cold War introduces a battle pass, will Warzone then have two?
Kostich kept his cards close to his chest, but did promise "a very tight integration between the two".
"Modern Warfare and Warzone are obviously very tightly connected. Maybe that's really important for the player base. We plan to do the same with our upcoming titles as well, our premium titles, to ensure we can reward all of our players and give an impression and experiences, regardless of whether they choose to just play in Warzone or also playing the premium game as well. So, the connection will absolutely be there."
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Warzone Season 5 kicked off this morning, and players are currently hunting for secrets and Easter eggs that relate to Black Ops Cold War. Dataminers are already digging into the game's files, as you'd expect. Surely it won't be long now before the next big Call of Duty is out in the open.