Not content with dominating PC and console sales charts on a yearly basis, Call of Duty publisher Activision partnered with Tencent to develop and launch Call of Duty Mobile. Released in October 2019. The game garnered a large following the world over, India included. In October, India accounted for 13.7 million downloads, the second largest country for the publisher.
HuffPost India caught up with Chris Plummer, Vice President, Mobile at Activision to find out what it took to bring Call of Duty Mobile to small screens.
“We were inspired by the opportunity to bring together the best elements from across the entire Call of Duty brand into one exclusive package designed to bring Call of Duty to life on mobile devices,” Plummer said. “[W]e had to make it look and feel like a Call of Duty game that players have been playing on their PC or console. It had to have that signature Call of Duty feel, but also be playable on the small screen.”
In the past, there have been other attempts to bring Call of Duty to smartphones, but these have changed genres and explored strategy gaming instead. This time, the game was made to be just like its big-screen siblings.
“Call of Duty is known by millions of fans around the world, but it has always been dependent on someone having a console or PC to play the game on,” Plummer said.
Going mobile means that Activision can reach a new, and much bigger audience, particularly in markets like India. There are around 425,000 PS4s and roughly 55,000 Xbox Ones in India—a drop in the ocean compared to number of downloads the game saw in just one month.
When asked if the team had specific challenges to contend with, Plummer noted that getting the visuals and controls to work as they should were a concern.
“There are interesting challenges in bringing PC-quality fidelity to a handheld device and controls need extra care to ensure everything feels right,” he said. “But it’s also great to work on a platform where everyone is always connected and can play whenever and wherever they want. We put some extra effort into social features to ensure we were harnessing the best aspects of the mobile platform.”
To make sure things went smoothly, there were multiple Call of Duty Mobile betas in places like India and Australia, for weeks leading up to the day one release.
“There are a lot of different models of phones and the game had to perform well on all of them,” Plummer said. “The crazy thing is that even with all that testing, we had more matches played on the first day than all of our pre-release matches. Players clocked in a quarter of a billion hours in the first two weeks since we launched and they’re still playing intensely.“
While it’s to be expected that a game like Call of Duty hitting iOS and Android would result in downloads and players aplenty simply on the strength of the brand alone, Plummer was still taken aback by the response.
Although Plummer kept mum on esports plans aside from stating it’s “always a topic of conversation internally”, it’s safe to say we’ll see the company jump on the bandwagon soon enough. Sources in India’s esports industry confirmed that Activision has been in talks with some of the country’s top teams—No surprise when you consider that both Tencent and Garena courted competitive gaming in India, with PUBG Mobile and Free Fire respectively.
But where juggernauts like PUBG Mobile and Fortnite embraced other brands and franchises (like Resident Evil and Star Wars) to keep things fresh, Activision doesn’t plan to pursue similar in-game events in Call of Duty Mobile.
“We have an extensive schedule of in-game events already planned,” Plummer said. “The great thing about Call of Duty is that we have a lot of subject matter to draw from. Call of Duty has historically partnered with a wide variety of brands, but as of now, we do not have any branding announcements related to Call of Duty Mobile.”