Call of Duty: Modern Warfare has brought a lot of momentum back to Activision Blizzard’s military shooter franchise. The publisher announced today that its multiplayer megahit surpassed $1 billion in sales worldwide. But it’s also setting records as the most-played Call of Duty game this generation.
Through its first 50 days after launch, Modern Warfare has more hours played and the highest daily average players than any other Call of Duty on Xbox One or PlayStation 4. While a part of that is a result of more people owning those consoles than in previous years, that’s not the whole story. Modern Warfare also has the highest average hours per player of any Call of Duty this generation.
Those three data tidbits suggest that this is a massive success for Activision. The game is seeing more people play the game each day. And they are playing for longer sessions than they did with Call of Duty: World War II or Black Ops 3. Typically, a sequel only gets one or the other. More players, which means a wider audience that likely includes players who dabble for a shorter duration. Or fewer (but more dedicated) players that push the average hours per person up.
And you can see the reflection of that enthusiasm for Modern Warfare in the sales.
“The momentum for Modern Warfare from day one has been incredible,” Call of Duty boss Byron Beede said. “Players are having a great time and are continuing to engage across the multiplayer experience at the highest level in years. It’s great to see the fan response to the hard work from our development teams led by Infinity Ward.”
How Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is reinvigorating the franchise
Activision and Infinity Ward are pushing Modern Warfare to such highs based on a handful of factors. The most important of which is the overall quality of the game. This is one of the best-playing Call of Duty games ever. Many fans are praising it for its excellent combat mechanics and satisfying gun play.
But this entry in the long-running series also feels like it is catching up with the times.
Season pass is out; premium progression pass is in
Infinity Ward dropped the season pass DLC for Modern Warfare. So instead of having to buy maps to keep up with the rest of active community, all of that content is now included with the original base purchase price. Instead, players can spend money on a battle pass that unlocks more cosmetic content as they play the game and earn experience.
This ensures players don’t get left behind if they don’t want to spend an extra $20 on new maps. At the same time, battle passes have proven effective at enticing players to return to a game more often and to play for longer. It turns out that a Skinner box is even more effective when you feel like you have to get your money’s worth out of it.
Crossplatform multiplayer is real
And then this is also the first Call of Duty to support full cross-platform multiplayer. Everyone on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC can face off against one another. And that means in-game events are more appealing because you can experience them with any friend even if they don’t play on the same device as you.
Modern Warfare is likely going to see the benefits of that as Infinity War launches new free maps.
“We’re bringing our players together to play across all platforms and that continues today with a new wave of content coming to everyone for free,” Modern Warfare creative director Patrick Kelly said. “Starting today [maps] Vacant and Shipment are in full multiplayer rotation.”
And if Activision’s key-performance indicator really is engagement, it’s drops like these that are going to juice those numbers. Especially since poor map design is one of the main criticisms of Modern Warfare. Bringing back classic locales addresses that.