Call of Duty: Vanguard was not the commercial success Activision had hoped for, with the publisher now blaming the game’s poor sales on its World War II setting.
In its latest annual earnings report, Activision Blizzard said Call of Duty: Vanguard “did not meet our expectations” and admits that its disappointing business performance was “primarily due to [Activision’s] own execution” of the game (thanks, Kotaku).
“The game’s World War II setting didn’t resonate with some members of our community,” the report states, “and we didn’t bring as much innovation to the premium game as we would have wish.”
Activision goes on to say that it’s addressing both of these issues – poor setting choice and lack of innovation – in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, the next mainline Call of Duty title due out later this year.
“We are working on the most ambitious plan in Call of Duty history, with over 3,000 people currently working on the franchise and a return to the Modern Warfare framework that delivered our most successful Call of Duty title to date. day,” the report said.
Call of Duty: Vanguard certainly wasn’t a smash hit for Activision. Despite being the best-selling game of 2021, its sales were down 36.1% compared to 2020’s Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War. Its underperformance is said to have even encouraged Activision to break the cycle Call of Duty’s annual release date, as the publisher pushes Treyarch’s 2023 entry back into 2024.
However, for Activision to attribute Vanguard’s poor sales to its World War II setting is a bit peculiar. Call of Duty: WW2 flew off the shelves when it launched in 2017, with Activision even boasting that it sold twice as many copies as Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare when it launched. Given the sheer volume of video games and other media set up in the conflict, it’s a bit strange to think that gamers aren’t interested in the setting.
Vanguard’s lack of innovation might be a better explanation. In our Call of Duty: Vanguard review, we said “the campaign mode ultimately falls flat when it comes to both storytelling and gameplay,” and thought its multiplayer only offered the same. While its Zombies mode was a nice refresh of what had come before, it only offered one game mode at launch and couldn’t sustain a tired franchise on its own.
Of course, Vanguard’s launch was also marked by an ongoing investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct at Activision Blizzard. Its underperformance didn’t scare Microsoft, however, which announced plans to buy Activision Blizzard for $69 billion earlier this year.