Activision Explains Why Call of Duty Warzone Mobile Has 120-Player Verdansk and PC and Console Do Not

العاب

Activision Explains Why Call of Duty Warzone Mobile Has 120-Player Verdansk and PC and Console Do Not


It seems odd that Activision would release Call of Duty Warzone Mobile when it already has a hugely successful Call of Duty mobile game making millions of dollars for the company. But from a business perspective it makes sense. Call of Duty Mobile, the 2019 mobile first-person shooter spin-off that has seen 650 million downloads since launch, is developed by Tencent-owned TiMi Studio Group, and so not all the huge profits it generates benefit Activision’s bottom line. Call of Duty Warzone Mobile, on the other hand, is developed entirely in-house at Activision, and so the company gets a bigger slice of the revenue pie every time a player drops cash on a battle pass.

Clearly, Activision is betting big on Call of Duty Warzone Mobile, which launches globally on the App Store and Google Play today, March 21. But while mobile gamers will no-doubt get stuck into its impressive recreation of the battle royale, some PC and console Call of Duty players have expressed concern that Activision will focus on Warzone Mobile going forward, leaving the likes of Modern Warfare 3 and Warzone in the dust.

There are good reasons for this concern. For a start, Warzone Mobile launches with the original Warzone map Verdansk, which fans have long-called for Activision to re-release on PC and console. Warzone Mobile’s Verdansk, meanwhile, supports up to 120 players, whereas Warzone on PC and consoles is currently limited to 100. How can it be that the mobile version of Warzone has a busier battle royale on a better map than the PC and console version?

That question, among many others, was put to Chris Plummer, Senior Vice President and Co-Head of Mobile at Activision Publishing, in an interview with IGN. We discuss everything from the potential for hacking on Warzone Mobile to the lack of cross-play with console and PC despite battle pass cross-progression.

Warzone Mobile features Verdansk, the much-loved map from the original Warzone.
Warzone Mobile features Verdansk, the much-loved map from the original Warzone.

Why did Activision decide to make a Warzone-specific mobile game when it’s already got a very successful Call of Duty Mobile game already?

Chris Plummer: When we launched Call of Duty Warzone on console and PC, which was a few months after Call Duty Mobile came out, what we observed was a real positive change in our community, which was this shared consciousness that came from having the same content, the shared progression. They’re all of a sudden talking about the same stuff, including a whole new audience, which came in through Warzone, which was free-to-play for the first time. So we saw our audience grow and become more activated by the fact that they have this shared experience.

And it was really quite remarkable and it was something we desired heavily to do on mobile, but in order to deliver that in full and really realize that ambition, we had to deliver that on our own technology, because only through using the Call of Duty tech could we deliver the content and the cross-progression, so that literally your time spent on any platform could be valuable time that’s leveling up your progress on any platform. That requires our own engine to really start it there with this desire to connect our community.

When we talked to the players after the launch of both of those titles and asked them, “What is it that you want?” This desire to have access to that content was a really, really big driver. Cross-progression was by far the top of the list, and so that started it all. But as we progressed toward taking this super high-fidelity, high-performance console and PC engine and adapting it to function on mobile, that work ended up being quite a big amount of work. But once we got there, it started to open up the floodgates to all kinds of new capabilities and innovations that we hadn’t fully predicted in advance, and that just created the snowball effect.

If you drop into battle royale games on mobile, you’re basically dropping in with a hundred bots. It is just not the real thing at all.

Battle royale really took off on mobile. It is a massive, massive market on mobile now, but it’s just a prototype. If you drop into battle royale games on mobile, you’re basically dropping in with a hundred bots or a lot of bots, mostly bots. It is just not the real thing at all. And so when we got on the Call of Duty tech and that was working, and now we have access to Demonware backend and all this kind of optimization has happened over 20 years of COD secret sauce, all of a sudden we can get 120 humans in the same match.

And it’s like, wait, this is battle royale for the first time on mobile. Man, not only is it Call of Duty, it’s got the real Call of Duty systems, the real controls, physics, handling, responsiveness, all that stuff that makes Call of Duty weapons and everything feel great. But now we’ve got over a hundred people in a lobby and you go into Verdansk with real humans, I guess it’s a game changer.

So these kinds of things started to really clearly define the experience. So it wasn’t just about the content anymore and about that shared progression anymore, which was huge, but it was now about the actual gameplay experience, which is just radically different from what you can get anywhere else. And so these things really started to change the way we felt about Warzone Mobile and how unique it is.

And as people are continuing to move through their devices every few years or whenever they upgrade, we’re going to have the most cutting-edge visual presentation waiting for them. So today we support six generations of devices and on the very bleeding edge, we’re supporting some highly experimental, crazy visual stuff. But in the future that crazy experimental stuff will be common and it’ll be something else that’s crazy. And this will be moving forward through the years with our audience. So we look at it as a 10-year adventure as our horizon for the game. And why we’re able to do that is because again, we’re on Call of Duty technology that we’re all building, we’re all evolving. It’s been around for 20 years in some form or another. Now it’s much evolved and five years from now it’ll be much more evolved, and 10 years from now it’ll be a whole different beast, but we’ll be there. So all that really sets us apart and makes it a very different experience than anything else we have in the market and our portfolio or anyone else has to offer.

Warzone Mobile supports up to 120 players, whereas Warzone currently supports up to 100 players.
Warzone Mobile supports up to 120 players, whereas Warzone currently supports up to 100 players.

Warzone Mobile supports 120 players, but Warzone on PC and console is currently limited to 100 players. How do you reconcile that mobile, which you ostensibly think of as the less powerful platform, is able to have more players than the console and PC version?

Chris Plummer: I think it’s important to point out that this isn’t the technical limitation in any direction. These are design choices. So the Call of Duty technology supports lots of players. We can support more players or less players in Warzone Mobile, and the same is true on other platforms. The reason you see certain player configurations is purely through design decisions that are made based on checking out how people are playing, where the pockets of action are, where certain things happen in the journey of playing the map, and when it gets exciting or boring or whatever, and player count really impacts that.

It’s really important to point out that we’re on a different map in Verdansk than the console PC games are today. And so the feel is different, the flow is different, and the pacing is different. Over time you may see any of the platforms including mobile changing and dialing up or down the player counts not because of technical reasons, but for gameplay and pacing and design reasons.

You mention Verdansk. There’s a lot of demand for that to come back to the PC and console game. How is it that you are able to have Verdansk come back for Warzone Mobile when it’s nowhere to be found on PC and console? If you’re talking about unifying the experience and having the shared technology, wouldn’t it have made sense for it to be live on everything at the same time?

Chris Plummer: Yeah, and I think that’s a really good point. And when we think about Warzone Mobile, we’re introducing it for the first time to people, and so this is its birthday literally, and we want to make sure we’re introducing people in a way that we know works. And we know that Warzone was introduced on Verdansk. It is the OG, as you have rightly put it. And so what better way to bring Warzone to a whole new audience that’s never played Call of Duty before, never played Warzone before, than the map that we know started it all that has the sight lines, the POIs, the ability to look at that map and know exactly where you want to go and drop in? That’s the reason we’re on Verdansk, because that was the best way for us to introduce this experience to the largest audience in the world.

Now over time, what you’ll see is we do have a desire and are actively working toward bringing the content experiences together even more, so the battle pass, the bundles and things like that are already shared out of the gate. So a lot of that communal experience is there, but we intend to bring that closer together, not further over time, so that all of us are kind of talking about the same map and, “Hey, let’s critique this area, or what’s your favorite place for this tactic?” And that’s part of, I think, realizing the vision. And we don’t have it all on day one, but we do have what we think is the best welcome mat for a large audience of people who come into Warzone Mobile for the first time.

Warzone Mobile has cross-progression with Warzone and Modern Warfare 3 on PC and console, but no cross-play.
Warzone Mobile has cross-progression with Warzone and Modern Warfare 3 on PC and console, but no cross-play.

You have cross-progression, which is great obviously as someone who’s playing Call of Duty on PC and console, but you don’t have cross-play. Some other battle royales that are on PC, console, and mobile do have cross-play across all platforms. Why did you decide against it for this?

Chris Plummer: So this really boiled down to a few things and talking to players about the implications of doing cross-play versus not doing cross-play. Ultimately, if you’re doing cross-play, then all the platforms need to share the same fundamental tuning for things like movement and core game aspects. And what our opinion and the opinion of the players that we talk to is when games have done that in the past or present and tuned it for one platform, usually console, mobile is the worst experience. And we do not want Warzone Mobile to be the worst experience. We want Warzone Mobile to be the best experience you can get on mobile. Just like we want Warzone on console and PC to be the best experience you can get on those platforms, which when they’re tuned for each other, work great. But mobile is a pretty unique platform in that the screen form factor is much smaller.

It’s touch-screen based. There’s a lot of things about it to make one-for-one exact tuning not a great experience. That’s basically a port. And we could have done a port a while ago. It would have been much easier to do a port! But we think what players want and what we want for them is the best-in-class mobile experience. Could we technically do cross-play if we thought that was fun for players? We could technically do it, but we don’t think it’s the best player experience. And again, if we talk to our players, they’re not asking us for cross-play, they understand what the implications of it are.

This is not a port, this is on the Call of Duty technology. We’re making the best-in-class mobile experience, and that’s why you don’t have cross-play.

There’s some potentially amusing scenarios that can come out of cross-play when you mix those platforms together, and for some genres it might actually work. But for this genre, we think that it will definitely take one of the platforms at least down a notch in terms of overall experience and feel and playability. And we’ve talked to people and developers who worked on the games that are quite well-known, that have cross-play across all platforms and they wish they didn’t do it. They know it’s made their experience worse on mobile specifically, so we’re avoiding that like the plague. This is not a port, this is on the Call of Duty technology. We’re making the best-in-class mobile experience, and that’s our priority and that’s why you don’t have cross-play.

Cheating has been an issue with Warzone on PC and console. I have seen some people who are interested in playing Warzone Mobile but are wondering about the potential for cheating to be a problem with this game. What steps have you taken to mitigate that? What reassurance can you give players worried about cheating?

Chris Plummer: We’re well aware that this is a risk in games of this type, and it’s something that we care about a lot to make sure that certain bad actors can’t ruin the experience for other players. Warzone Mobile is supported by our Ricochet team within our division, so we have a very active monitoring and action plan for handling that sort of thing. It will always be an ongoing thing, and I think it will develop additional capabilities over time and always be adapting to what we’re seeing out there. But we do have support. We do want to protect our players so they have the best possible experience that feels fair and fun to play, so that’s definitely something we care about a lot.

I’ve seen some Call of Duty PC and console players hearing about all the things Activision is doing with this game and the features it’s got – Verdansk, the player count – and they’re saying ‘mobile is eating better than us right now.’ I wanted to put to you the concern that some PC and console players have, which is that Activision is going to throw everything at Warzone Mobile, and the other Call of Duty experiences might suffer as a result, or perhaps less attention will be given to them. What can you say to reassure players that that won’t be the case?

Chris Plummer: I think there’s more effort and resources on the Call of Duty console and PC premium experiences than there’s ever been. They’re such a huge priority for the company. Mobile is something we’ve always wanted to, again, complete that experience for our community. And maybe just because we’ve been talking about it alot right now because it’s launching, it could feel that way. But there is so much exciting stuff happening across the franchise. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited we are to see what’s coming, not just this chapter and upcoming seasons and the cool stuff that’s still to come, but there’s of course always big surprises from Call of Duty and no exceptions in the near future. So I don’t think there’s anything to worry about there. The Call of Duty fans will have a lot of exciting stuff to look forward to.

Wesley is the UK News Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter at @wyp100. You can reach Wesley at wesley_yinpoole@ign.com or confidentially at wyp100@proton.me.



Source link

Back To Top