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Activision Hands Next Call of Duty and Warzone Update to Infinity Ward After Vanguard Flop

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This is not investment advice. The author has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. WCCF TECH INC has a disclosure and ethics policy.

Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) have released their earnings for the quarter ending December 31, a report many were anticipating given the company’s ongoing reckoning with workplace misconduct and the pending acquisition of the company by Microsoft. Unfortunately, those hoping for a particularly lively earnings call are in for a disappointment, as embattled Acti-Blizz CEO Bobby Kotick and the rest of the company’s management team have retreated from the spotlight, announcing they’ll no longer be holding any conference calls pending their “transaction” with Microsoft.

Activision Blizzard did release a Q4 earnings press release (Acti-Blizz's fiscal year coincides with the calendar year) and while their $2.16 billion in net revenue did best expectations, it fell short of the $2.42 billion brought in during Q4 2020. The major culprit? A large $500 million year-on-year shortfall from the Activision division due to the poor reception and sales of Call of Duty: Vanguard and the Call of Duty: Warzone Pacific update. The numbers were salvaged somewhat by the King mobile division, which set record Candy Crush numbers.

Call of Duty: Warzone 2/Tarkov-Style Mode Map and Returning Modern Warfare 2 MP Maps Leak

While Bobby Kotick is unlikely to be hopping on any conference calls anytime soon, he did provide a brief statement, in which he boasted the Microsoft acquisition would allow Acti-Blizz to launch new franchises and revive classic IPs – a stark contrast to the company’s pre-acquisition strategy of increasingly putting all their eggs in the Call of Duty basket.

I’m so incredibly proud of our teams for their commitment and passion as we continued to engage the world through epic entertainment in 2021. As we look to the future, with Microsoft’s scale and resources, we will be better equipped to grow existing franchises, launch new potential franchises and unlock the rich library of games we have assembled over 40 years. Our 370 million players around the world and workplace excellence remain our focus. For investors, our recently announced transaction is the culmination of three decades of providing superior shareholder returns.

Perhaps the biggest news to come to come out of the earnings report, is confirmation that Infinity Ward, Activision’s Call of Duty “A” team behind the Modern Warfare sub-series, will be handling both 2022’s core premium title (strongly rumored to be Modern Warfare 2) and the next major Warzone update. Infinity Ward also took to Twitter, promising a “new generation of Call of Duty” is on the way.

Whether this means Activision is ditching last-generation consoles this year remains to be seen, but it certainly sounds like the company is looking to put its most-impactful foot forward as it prepares to join the Microsoft first-party stable.

California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has filed suit against Activision Blizzard, alleging widespread gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment at the Call of Duty publisher. You can get more detail on that unfolding story here.

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