Q&A: We speak with Activision's vice president of mobile about Call of Duty Mobile's recent achievements and lots more.
Activision's Call of Duty Mobile is a juggernaut. With more than 150 million installs worldwide, the game's big success has helped mobile become Activision's biggest platform by revenue.
The game, which is developed by Tencent's TiMi Studios in China, recently hit a milestone in Australia: 1 million installs. Chris Plummer, Activision's vice president of mobile, spoke to GameSpot about this achievement and a lot more about the mobile game in a new interview.
Plummer tells GameSpot that Call of Duty Mobile is resonating globally, but for the Australia audience specifically, he had a message to share: "Personally, I want to thank the Australian fans. You were part of our beta program and really helped us in the lead up to launch."
Australia and New Zealand are often used as testing grounds for big mobile releases, with publishers testing the game in those relatively smaller countries before expanding worldwide.
Plummer spoke to GameSpot as Call of Duty Mobile welcomes its latest big update, Steel Legion. This new season of content introduces new game modes, a new map, and more rewards to players to earn. There is also a new Steel Legion Battle Pass that adds two very iconic Call of Duty characters: Black Ops 2 protagonist David Mason and Reaper, a highly sophisticated war robot.
The launch of Steel Legion also represents a change for Call of Duty: Mobile in that the game has now shifted to a monthly season model. "We wanted it to be easy for our players to know when a season would begin and end. And then add to that, we wanted to add a light narrative to each season, which you’ll see starting in April with Steel Legion," Plummer said.
Check out the Steel Legion trailer below, and read on for our full interview with Plummer. He also speaks about the controversial decision to remove Zombies from Call of Duty Mobile, how the game goes about offering fair microtransactions, and a lot more. You can also check out Activision's blog post here to find out everything that's included with the Steel Legion update.
GameSpot: 1 million installs in Australia alone is a big number. What do you think it is about CoD Mobile that’s resonating so much with the Australian audience?
Plummer: We’re really excited to see that 1 million milestone and proud that Australian gamers are enjoying Call of Duty: Mobile. I think the game is just resonating with a global audience in general, but we’ve always known that Australians were Call of Duty fans. Personally, I want to thank the Australian fans. You were part of our beta program and really helped us in the lead up to launch.
CoD Mobile is obviously a global juggernaut as well. Are there any other new metrics you can share regarding how successful the game has been on a worldwide scale?
It’s been truly remarkable to see Call of Duty’s rocketing performance, from daily stats to accolades and most importantly to attracting so many dedicated players day in and day out. We are deeply appreciative of the response and are working tirelessly to continue delivering a great experience for everyone playing around the globe.
"Fan feedback has been incredibly positive and humbling. We have been working with our community to deliver the types of items and gameplay experiences they want." -- Chris Plummer
Now that it’s been a few months since release, what are you hearing from fans in terms of feedback, and what are you planning to change, update, or improve on as a result?
Fan feedback has been incredibly positive and humbling. We have been working with our community to deliver the types of items and gameplay experiences they want. Based on their feedback, we are changing the way we are handling our Battle Pass system and making it more thematic and less of a time grind.
The other piece of news you're announcing is around simplifying the seasonal update cadence. Can you explain your thinking there and what you're trying to achieve and build upon?
The first thing you’ll notice is that we’ve gone to a monthly season model. We wanted it to be easy for our players to know when a season would begin and end. And then add to that, we wanted to add a light narrative to each season, which you’ll see starting in April with Steel Legion.
One big change for CoD Mobile that was announced recently was that Zombies is being removed. This surprised a lot of people. Can you explain the reasoning behind that decision?
Zombies was a time-limited mode that ran for a few months. We’re discussing the player feedback from that first event and it is our intention to make further improvements to Zombies before reintroducing it. We have other time-limited modes that we want players to experience too. We know that our players really enjoy new ways to play!
Battle royale just came to Modern Warfare in a big way with Warzone. Are you looking to update and expand CoD: Mobile's battle royale mode as well with new content or features in the future?
We’re always iterating on our Battle Royale game mode. We’ve added new items and new ways to play (i.e. 20 vs 20) and we’ll definitely be keeping BR interesting for our players over the coming months.
For CoD: Mobile, you've partnered with Tencent and TiMi Studios. Can you speak more about your relationship with them and how your partnership is going considering they are a team based halfway around the world from you?
Tencent and TiMi Studios have been fantastic partners through the entire development, publishing and live operation phases. Since Call of Duty: Mobile is such a global game, it’s been great having a global perspective from multiple partners. We’re living in the age of connectivity, so geography hasn’t really been a problem for us working with the full team.
Microtransactions generate a lot of debate and controversy, but CoD: Mobile seems to have struck a balance that gamers generally accept and enjoy. Can you talk more about creating the economy and making it feel fair and never pay-to-win?
Ensuring that players have a fair and even playing field was of utmost importance during development and continues to this day. We wanted to be sure that all players will have the same opportunities to win.
Do you plan to make CoD Mobile an annualized series like the mainline console/PC franchise? Or will CoD Mobile live on its own over the years with new updates and seasonal content?
Currently we are focused on continuously keeping Call of Duty: Mobile fresh and interesting so our players will always have something fun to do in-game. As we mentioned early, the new monthly seasonal content should provide many reasons to keep coming back to the game.
You have been in the gaming industry since the '90s and you have experience across a number of major franchises from a range of big companies. What is it about what Activision is doing in the mobile space with CoD: Mobile and others that makes you excited to be part of the team?
I’ve been a big fan of Call of Duty since the very first version on PC so many years ago. As a game-maker in the same genre space, I always had a tonne of admiration for Call of Duty and how the franchise evolved over time; always delivering that incredibly fun, tight, visceral combat experience. When Activision approached me with the possibility to work on Call of Duty and the mobile business, I was struck by how committed and passionate the leaders were about bringing Call of Duty to mobile in the right way.
The game had to be great and the way we deliver it to players each day needed to meet the high standards of a true Call of Duty experience. Knowing the company and its leaders were as passionate about this and I am, it was hard to contain my excitement. Frankly, it’s just as exciting today, because we have so many cool things in the works and we’re all really energised to be working on such a great game.