Did Activion CEO just confirm Overwatch and World of Warcraft on mobile?
Activision’s CEO Bobby Kotick made a recent appearence at CNBC Evolve conference, where he discussed his career, the company’s history, goals for the future and even touched on the more recent political hot-topic regarding Blizzard (which is Activision’s subsidiary/partner company).
“And so you realize that as these franchises go from consoles and PCs to phones, the growth in the audience is gonna be stagering.” - Activision CEO Bobby Kotick
While a lot of the focus media has placed on this talk has been around his goal to have “1 billion users” over the next 5 years (and the aforementioned political snippet) what really stroke me as surprising and most relevant was how Kotick explicitly said how he would expand the company’s audience.
Make mobile versions of everything!
“We have these great franchises, that have evolved over long periods of time. Many of those franchises though are not on phones yet.”, said Kotick during his talk. He went on explaining how the launch of Call of Duty mobile in October brought in 100 million consumers in just one month since release. What he said next was even more indicative of the future/current strategy - “And so you realize that as these franchises go from consoles and PCs to phones, the growth in the audience is gonna be stagering.”, Kotick concluded.
The message here from Kotick is clear: more existing franchises on mobile to expand the audience by a measure of hundreds of millions more over the next few years. So, are we just talking about more Call Of Duty mobile iterations (CoD RTS?), or should we expect a full on assault of World Of Warcraft, Overwatch, Spyro, Crash Bandicoot and others on mobile? Well, I think the fact that a mobile version of Diablo is already in development should be a clear enough indication of what to expect. And obviously, “using” the huge potential Chinese market to expand the audience and reaching that “1 billion users” goal will be paramount. This effort to accommodate to the Chinese market has been made crystal clear by recent events as well...
Which games will come to mobile?
When looking at Activision-Blizzard portfolio of owned IPs (don’t expect Destiny on mobile from Activision, as it now belongs to Bungie), it’s interesting to notice how so many games are old classics that don’t have much of an expression in the current market (Pitfall, Gabriel Knight, Quest for Glory...) and most of the big modern hits are from the Blizzard side of things, with Call of Duty arguably being the only juggernaut from Activision (a case could be made for Crash Bandicoot considering the success of the recent remakes, and both Tony Hawk’s and Guitar Hero remain dormant but highly recognizable brands still). So, assuming Bobby Kotick meant games from both Activision and Blizzard for the "transition" to mobile, it’s fairly easy to shortlist a few titles that would have greater potential for the platform, considering their current popularity and online potential: Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Warcraft, Overwatch, Starcraft and Diablo (Diablo Immortal is already confirmed) would be my picks as obvious candidates.
Direct adaptations of the consoles and PC versions should not be the only versions to expect either, I think (if any). Genre iteration could work very well for some of these franchises. An RTS Call of Duty game? An Overwatch RPG? Plenty of options. Reading from Activisions own CEO’s words, it’s clearly not a matter of if, but when.