It would be logical to assume that Call of Duty played a big role in Microsoft’s pursuit of Activision Blizzard. Even after more than a century of annual releases, it’s still one of the most popular gaming franchises in the world and a consistent cash cow.
However, Xbox CEO Phil Spencer claimed in a Bloomberg interview that it was mobile games and, to a lesser extent, PC that really piqued Microsoft’s interest.
“Mobile phones are the most popular gaming platform in the world. According to Spencer, 1.5 billion people play on mobile devices. And, I suppose, regrettably, for Microsoft, there isn’t a native platform there.
We don’t have a lot of creative talent that has produced successful mobile games like gaming, coming from console and PC.
If you’ve been around the videogame industry for a while—perhaps too long—you probably know most of the designers.
So you kind of get an idea of teams that would fit what we were attempting to do. But we actually began the Activision Blizzard negotiations, at least internally, by focusing on the mobile and PC capabilities of the company. These two topics were the ones that really held our attention.
It’s a particularly interesting point because Activision Blizzard’s takeover by Microsoft is widely believed to be at risk due to Call of Duty.
We don’t possess a lot of intellectual talent that has produced successful mobile games because gaming comes from consoles and personal computers.
Microsoft recently found itself under pressure to refute Sony’s claims that Call of Duty games are “so crucial that they might influence console purchasing decisions.” Given this, it makes sense that Microsoft would try to downplay the influence Call of Duty had on the negotiation of the deal.
But the money is really in mobile. In their Q2 2022 fiscal report, Activision Blizzard stated that mobile games contributed $831 million, or more than half of its overall sales for the period.