Call of Duty's free-to-play Warzone mode is the glue that will hold the franchise together in 2021 and beyond.
Warzone is the biggest thing Activision has ever done. The F2P game's ecosystem is so transformative that all of Activision-Blizzard's franchises will adapt its model in some form. Warzone is the connective tissue that binds mainline premium games in a monetized, accessible, and synergistic package. Activision's emphasis on cross-progression, cross-play, and cross-SKU has unlocked the full spectrum of money-making potential.
Activision knows how important Warzone is. 2020 was just the beginning. The mode isn't going anywhere, and will continue integrating all future mainline CoD games moving forward. In 2021, Warzone will tie three games together: Modern Warfare, Black Ops Cold War, and COD 2021.
In its recent Q4 earnings call, Activision underlined Warzone's future role in its business:
"Warzone is going to be front and center for us for a long time," said Activision president Rob Kostich.
"We feel really good about and very confident in our strategy going forward. Warzone will continue to be a central part of that future content planning to our entire community. And our goal remains the same. Whether you're a premium or free-to-play Call of Duty player, we want to provide everyone with incredible gameplay experiences and we're going to continue to invest significantly across all fronts to support that effort for the community."
Activision-Blizzard Chief Financial Officer Dennis Durkin also confirmed CoD 2021 would tie into Warzone:
"I mean in COD, you can see we've got obviously a full year of Warzone and the premium integration and as well as obviously the mobile opportunity in particular with China being added this year."
This cross-game integration ensures older Call of Duty games can still materially impact earnings by simply acting as Warzone portals. The company expects Call of Duty to help drive record $8.22 billion earnings in 2021, which is more money than Activision has ever made in its lifetime.