Activision-Blizzard has a handful of major franchises that it will double-down and focus on rather than expanding with risky and potentially unprofitable IPs.
Activision is making a killing right now thanks to COVID-19 lockdowns. Its digital-first business model is paying off big during a time where people are staying home. As such, the publisher doesn't really need to release new games every often to maintain its multi-billion dollar reign over other U.S. game companies. It's been this way for a while and it'll stay this way for even longer.
What new games that do get released will be part of an established webwork of franchises. The idea is to use network and live service foundations that already exist instead of starting out from scratch (it's the same thought process behind CoD games jumping to Battle.net). We'll see sequels, new F2P games, mobile ports, and content, content, content across this six main franchises:
- Call of Duty
- World of Warcraft
- Candy Crush
That's it. Full stop. Notice how Starcraft isn't on the list. These six IPs are the main breadwinners for Activision-Blizzard and therefore they will be the major focus moving forward. It makes sense, especially considering three of the franchises have made over $1 billion in net bookings (Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Candy Crush).
Activision Chief Operating Officer Daniel Alegre says they're currently in 'early phases' of unlocking each franchise's full potential:
"We're seeing a clear return on our increased investment in creative and commercial talent, and we intend to continue scaling our capabilities across our six key franchises: Call of Duty, Candy Crush, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Diablo, and Overwatch. We're still early in unlocking the full potential of these wholly-owned franchises and IP."
This isn't to say Activision-Blizzard aren't working on new franchises. They are. Company CEO Bobby Kotick says there's "potential new franchises we are actively creating," but talk of new IP has been significantly downplayed since Mike Morhaime left in 2019.
So what can we expect from Activision-Blizzard?
Mobile ports like Diablo Immortal and CoD Mobile will be more commonplace. Premium games without a multi-platform F2P version will get them. Expect to see F2P versions of Diablo and Overwatch pop up and connect directly to the premium installments just like Warzone.
Also expect monetization to be everywhere. Cross-gen, cross-play multiplayer will be a hallmark of all games moving forward. Also expect cross-progression integration between mobile/F2P/premium in some fashion.
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