Destiny 2 Still Coming In 2017; New Call Of Duty Goes "Back To Its Roots"; Infinite Warfare Underperforms

The Destiny sequel aims to "broaden the franchise's global reach," while new Call of Duty goes back to the franchise's roots.

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Update: Activision has elaborated a bit further about the new Destiny sequel, which Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg reiterated is "on track for release this fall."

"[W]e've got a big reveal planned and I'm going to let the game do most of the talking, but I'll give you some broad strokes," he said during a Q&A with investors this afternoon. "I think that our team and our great partners at Bungie are doing a very nice job on two fronts. One, if you're one of the millions of players who's really invested in Destiny 1 and have put a lot of hours and passion into that game, you're going to love this game, and there's a lot more of what you love here.

"For anyone who either hasn't yet tried Destiny or hasn't played in a while, we think we've made a sequel that's going to have a lot for them to love, too. The cornerstone of that is a great cinematic story that's been a real focus with a great cast of memorable, relatable characters, coupled with some very nice ways to make the game more accessible to a casual player. Without losing anything that our core players love, we've made it more accessible to someone who just wants to have a great, more casual first-person action experience."

The original story follows.

Activision Blizzard today reported earnings for its fourth quarter and full-year ended December 31. The company did not share any sales numbers for its games, but there were some notable takeaways.

First, a "full" sequel to Destiny is still on the company's release schedule for 2017. A release date has not been announced, but Activision said the game will "broaden the franchise's global reach." The game of course will also receive add-on content, which the company says "sets the stage for growth."

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In November 2016, Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg said the sequel is being designed to "both excite our highly engaged current players but also to broaden the appeal even further, bringing in new fans and bringing back lapsed fans."

Destiny 2, or whatever it ends up being called, is rumored to be in development for consoles as well as PC. Bungie is working on the game alongside co-developers High Moon Studios and Vicarious Visions.

Last year, Hirshberg teased that Bungie found a way to deliver more Destiny 2 content, faster. Bringing in two new studios could be the solution he referenced.

According to sources speaking to Kotaku, Activision gets a "hefty chunk" of Bungie studio stock if Destiny 2 does not come out this year. "Bungie employees' stock vesting schedule is also based on game releases, including Destiny 2, which gives them major incentives to get the sequel out this year," Kotaku reported.

Activision also today officially confirmed that a new Call of Duty game is coming out this year. We don't know anything about it, but Activision said the game will "take Call of Duty back to its roots."

The newest Call of Duty games have been set in the future, whereas the earlier games took place in World War II. The "back to its roots" quote might signal a return to that time period, though this is not confirmed.

The Call of Duty series is on a three-year, three-studio development cycle. Given that 2016's Infinite Warfare was made by Infinity Ward and 2015's Black Ops III was from Treyarch, that would mean that 2017's game is coming from Sledgehammer Games. During an earnings call, Activision confirmed this and Sledgehammer itself tweeted about the news.

In terms of business performance, Activision Blizzard posted $6.61 billion in revenue for 2016, compared to $4.66 billion in 2015; that's an increase of 42 percent. The company pulled in $4.87 billion in revenue from digital sources, setting a new record. For the quarter, Activision Blizzard net revenue was $2.01 billion, a new record, compared to $1.35 billion for the same period last year.

Here are some other takeaways from Activision Blizzard's earnings report today:

  • Blizzard has highest yearly monthly active users, at 36 million, up 37 percent from 2015. For the fourth quarter alone, Blizzard had 41 million monthly active users.
  • Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare underperformed. The game "didn't resonate" for a part of the audience, Activision said.
  • World of Warcraft monthly active users grew 10 percent in 2016 and more than 20 percent for the fourth quarter.
  • Hearthstone had highest annual monthly active users in 2016, jumping 20 percent, helped by the new Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion.
  • A new Skylanders game is coming to mobile devices.
  • There won't be a new new Skylanders console game this year.
  • Activision Blizzard revenue from in-game content amounted to $3.6 billion during 2016; that's more than double what it made in 2015 ($1.6 billion).

Activision Blizzard is just the latest to report earnings in recent weeks. Check out the stories below to see how other companies are doing.

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