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Call Of Duty Had Its Biggest Year Ever In 2020: Full-Game, Microtransaction Sales Booming

The Call of Duty franchise had a banner year in 2020--here's a breakdown of Activision Blizzard's performance for the year.


Activision announced as part of its earnings report that 2020 was the biggest year for Call of Duty in the franchise's history, thanks in part to the free-to-play games Call of Duty: Warzone and Call of Duty Mobile, as well as Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.

The CoD franchise had more than 100 million monthly active players during 2020, and this helped drive new records for revenue. For the year, net bookings across the entire CoD franchise amounted to nearly double that of 2019. During an earnings call, CEO Bobby Kotick said Call of Duty had 250 million players in 2020.

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Now Playing: Call of Duty Firebase Z New Zombie Map

Activision also revealed that the Call of Duty franchise has now generated an incredible $27 billion since it started in 2003 across all platforms and entries to become one of the most successful franchises across all of media.

Call of Duty premium sales--that is, non-free-to-play games--grew by 40% year-over-year for unit sales. Additionally, Activision reported a "further strong shift" away from physical and toward digital sales.

For Q4 (October-December), Activision--across all of its franchises--had 128 million monthly active users, while net bookings for the CoD franchise jumped by double-digits compared to Q4 of 2019.

Black Ops Cold War's release in November helped grow the franchise, too, with monthly active users growing by 70% and time spent in CoD more than doubling. The game sustained its momentum, too, as Activision said unit sales "grew sharply" in December and January thanks to the launch of the Season 1 update.

Microtransaction sales on console and PC are booming, too, growing by more than 50% in the fourth quarter alone. The Season 1 content for Black Ops Cold War and Warzone led to the highest number of battle passes "consumed" since Activision launched the mechanic in 2019.

Call of Duty Mobile also had a big Q4, achieving double-digit growth for microtransaction sales, while monthly player numbers in Western regions reached their highest numbers yet. The average amount of money spent per player also grew year-over-year.

Shifting to Blizzard, World of Warcraft had "strong engagement" for its Classic and modern modes in 2020, Activision Blizzard said. Net bookings from the WoW series jumped by 40% to reach their highest level in almost a decade.

WoW monthly active users jumped year-over-year, helping push total Blizzard monthly active users across all games to 29 million in Q4 alone.

Sales of the Shadowlands expansion, along with more subscribers, helped push WoW revenue in Q4 to growth year-over-year.

Blizzard also said the Diablo Immortal beta test in December and January was "met with very positive feedback and strong engagement metrics." Additional beta tests are scheduled for later this year. In other Blizzard news, the first BlizzConline event will take place February 19 and 20, where Blizzard will share updates on its franchises.

Activision Blizzard's King division also posted strong results, hitting its highest-full year financial performance since Activision Blizzard bought the company in 2016. King reached an astonishing 240 million monthly active users, while microtransaction sales grew by double-digits.

In total, Activision Blizzard made $2.4 billion in revenue for Q4, which compares to $1.9 billion for the same period last year.

For the full year, Activision made $8.09 billion in revenue, up from $6.49 billion last year. Revenue from digital channels reached $6.66 billion. This was Activision Blizzard's biggest year in its 30-year history.

In terms of microtransactions alone, Activision Blizzard made $1.3 billion from microtransactions in Q4 and $4.85 billion from microtransactions in 2020 overall.

It's a big week for Call of Duty, as Black Ops Cold War's Zombies mode grows with its new Firebase Z map. Check out the video above and the stories linked below to learn more.

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