CoD Mobile exclusive: Building Blackout, 500m milestone & bringing Warzone to phones - Dexerto
Call of Duty

CoD Mobile exclusive: General Manager reflects on past & future after Season 9 release

Published: 22/Oct/2021 7:07

by Brad Norton

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Call of Duty Mobile released just over two years ago and in that time, the handheld iteration of Activision’s top FPS franchise has become an unstoppable force of its own. Dexerto sat down with the development team once again to reflect on the game’s journey and preview what the next two years may have in store.

It’s been two years since CoD Mobile started appearing on app stores around the world. For one of Activision’s first attempts at capturing the handheld FPS market, it’s been a rapid ascension through the rankings with more than 500 million downloads now tallied up.

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Not only has CoD Mobile become a ‘greatest hits’ of sorts for the CoD franchise, with classic maps, modes, and weapons constantly on rotation, but the handheld title has also paved its own way with unique additions, a neatly interwoven esports scene, and plenty of nifty ideas along the way. 

It’s a never-ending stream of fresh updates and new experiences that keeps players coming back and even “blows away” seasoned veterans used to the cadence of the mainline franchise. It comes as no surprise then, that the dev team is more than pleased by CoD Mobile’s success.

To look back on those early years, delve into some of the bigger hurdles, and preview what’s to come, we spoke with CoD Mobile’s General Manager Matt Lewis.

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CoD Mobile announcement graphic
Activision
CoD Mobile has changed a great deal since its October 2019 launch.

Two years of CoD Mobile in the books

Although CoD Mobile is currently on track to “exceed $1 billion” in revenue this year alone, making it one of Activision’s hottest properties, the development team hasn’t been caught off guard by this degree of success.

“Before we launched, we were really proud of what we had made,” Lewis said. “But until you really get it out into the world you can never be sure.” While nerves may have been a factor initially, it was “within a week of launching” that the team realized they were onto something big.

“We knew we had a great game on our hands and the momentum since then has been amazing.”

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Now available in most major handheld markets, the team is witnessing a surge in both “new players downloading the game” and “existing players coming back.” It’s an upward trend they “definitely want to see continuing” as the seasons fly by.

“We are really proud of the game and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.”

From recapturing the essence of CoD Zombies to unleashing its own battle royale component, many of CoD Mobile’s individual modes now “have their own audience,” Lewis explained. But while Warzone is available through its own separate launcher across PC and console, similarly popular handheld modes won’t be following suit, at least not anytime soon.

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“Many of our players play the whole range of modes and move between freely. Right now, we’re focused on continuing down this road.” Even with a separate handheld CoD title in development, don’t expect to see CoD Mobile’s offerings split across multiple apps in the near future.

Bringing one of CoD’s biggest maps to the smallest devices yet

Halloween may be in focus for the time being as Season 9 gets underway, but it was Season 8 that brought one of the biggest additions to CoD Mobile yet. Both figuratively and literally.

CoD’s original battle royale map, Black Ops 4’s Blackout, made its way into the handheld experience in September. As one of the most significant updates thus far in the game’s two-year lifespan, Lewis described it as a “really big milestone” for the title.

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“It’s always a challenge to take something from one title or platform and move it to another,” he outlined. “But Blackout has been such a  popular map that we wanted our mobile players to experience it as well.”

CoD Mobile Blackout artwork
Activision
Blackout arrived as part of CoD Mobile’s second-anniversary celebration with Season 8.

“From start to finish” this huge undertaking took the developers “several months” to nail down. 

“At the time it launched, Blackout was the largest and most detailed Call of Duty map ever, and that includes more models, textures, and unique assets than any other map. With that, the challenge is always to ensure it runs on a range of devices and the feeling is consistent across a wide range of environments, which we feel we’ve been successful at.”

“While it is a long process,” Lewis reaffirmed, “since launching the game in 2019, our development team has become very good at finding efficiencies and getting the most out of mobile hardware.”

Could the Warzone experience be coming to CoD Mobile?

Looking ahead to the future of CoD Mobile, it’s entirely likely we see the same pattern continuing on. That being a blend of original and ported content with each seasonal update. 

So while the standard influx of mainline maps and weapons are safe bets, where does that leave CoD’s bigger offerings in recent years? Specifically, could we see Warzone’s Verdansk or even Rebirth Island jumping over for the handheld community anytime soon?

Warzone gameplay
Activision
Verdansk is set to disappear from Warzone next month. Could it pop up in CoD Mobile next?

Lewis couldn’t confirm what the dev team is planning “beyond Season 9,” though that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily off the table. In fact, he advised fans to “watch this space” for big announcements on the horizon.

The game’s general manager said: “We are always looking for new ways to bring revised content as well as brand new experiences to CoD Mobile.”