Is Warzone Dying?

Activision Blizzard just released their First Quarter 2022 Financial Results and the numbers are quite unsettling. Is Warzone and Call of Duty in general slowly dying?
Is Warzone Dying
"Hand over the anti-cheat or I'll shoot!" | © Activision Blizzard

We all love Warzone or at least we did love it a while back, right? I mean, the game was one of the biggest successes ever and basically all the big streamers out there jumped on it back in 2020. But Warzone also had quite a few issues and sadly still hasn't fixed all of them. One of the biggest problems was the missing Anti Cheat which even caused big streamers like NICKMERCS to leave. But Nick doesn't seem to be the only player who left Activision's BR Warzone.

Activision Blizzard just released their official First Quarter 2022 Financial Results and the numbers we are seeing are unsettling to say the least.

Warzone Is Losing Players

As we can see in the official report, Activision has lost quite a lot of players over the last year. The numbers shown in the following image are for all of Activision, this includes all Call of Duty titles:

Activision active users
Quite a big drop... | © Activision

In the course of only one year, Activision lost a third of it's monthly users! And if this is not unsettling enough, an individual who accesses the same game on two platforms or devices in the relevant period is counted as two users. So in total, there are even less players. Obviously, this also means a big drawback in earnings. According to the press release, Activision Blizzard's net bookings of Q1 2022 were "only" $1.48 billion compared to the $2.07 billion for the first quarter of 2021.

Apparently this seems to be a bigger problem for Activision Blizzard especially concerning their Call of Duty franchise:

Call of Duty® net bookings on console and PC declined year-over-year in the first quarter, reflecting lowerpremium sales for Call of Duty: Vanguard versus the year ago title and lower engagement in Call of Duty: Warzone™. Call of Duty Mobile net bookings were little changed year-over-year.

So all in all, the numbers for Call of Duty aren't looking too good. But we mustn't forget that Modern Warfare 2019 was the best-selling Call of Duty up to date, and Modern Warfare II could very well be the savior for the franchise.

Why Are Players Claiming To Leave Warzone?

We can only speculate about the reasons for the decline in players. First, Black Ops Cold War and especially Vanguard sold remarkably worse than Modern Warfare. Less Call of Duty players in general means fewer players in Warzone. People who don't own the premium titles most likely won't be playing Warzone regularly either.

Second, the pandemic is effectively over. Or at least most of the restrictions have now been lifted. This means less home office, less time for people to sit at home and play games. After all, one reason for the big success of Warzone was that it was released right at the beginning of the pandemic.

And then, of course, there are the issues Warzone resolved way too late or still hasn't resolved at all. The game didn't have an Anti Cheat for over one year and still struggles with a lot of bugs and error codes. The fact that you basically need a new hard drive just to install the game due to its enormous size isn't helping as well.

So yes, there are a couple of reasons why players are turning their back on Warzone and Call of Duty, and I am curious what Activision is going to do about it...

How Will More People Play Warzone?

Well, as said before, all hopes lie on Modern Warfare II and Warzone 2. If MWII sells as many copies as MW2019 did and if Warzone 2 releases with an Anti Cheat and fewer issues straight away, that would be a huge success and would likely attract lots of new players. The report also contains some of Activision's plans for the future:

This year’s Call of Duty is a sequel to 2019’s Modern Warfare®, the most successful Call of Duty title to date, and will be the most advanced experience in franchise history. The new free-to-play Warzone experience, which is built from the ground-up alongside the premium game, features groundbreaking innovations to be revealed later this year.

Activision continued to rapidly expand its Call of Duty development resources in the first quarter. Its growing teams are focused on delivering even more compelling content to the community on PC and console, as well as expanding Warzone to the mobile platform.

So as we can tell from this, Activision is hoping for the upcoming titles as well as Warzone Mobile to be a huge success. Let's see, if Call of Duty and Warzone can get up to speed again, or if they will keep losing players. Switching to a two-year cycle could help to deliver better games though.