On October 1, Activision made its “Call of Duty: Mobile” game available for download. A week later, analytics firm Sensor Tower reports that the title has been downloaded more than 100 million times worldwide. As such, the first-person shooter now holds the record for the most successful launch week in mobile gaming history.
Previously, Nintendo’s “Mario Kart Tour,” which just launched in September, held the record for the most first-week downloads with 90 million.
‘Call of Duty: Mobile’s’ Success in Context
While taking nothing away from the quality of “Call of Duty” (COD), it should be understood that its success is due in part to its rollout.
For instance, users downloaded Epic Games’ “Fortnite” 22.5 million times upon its mobile release in 2017. However, at the time, gamers could only access that version of the title through Apple’s App Store. By comparison, Activision released “CoD” on both iOS and Android platforms.
It is worth noting that “CoD” is slightly more popular on Apple devices. In its first week, iOS users downloaded the game 56.9 million times, representing 55.7 percent of the game’s overall downloads.
Similarly, when “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” migrated to mobile platforms in 2018, it only received 20 million downloads in its first week. However, the PUBG Corporation only released the title in select regions. Comparatively, “CoD” simultaneously went live in the United States, South America, and Asia.
Furthermore, “CoD” crushed its rivals in revenue generation as well as total downloads. Sensor Tower notes that the free-to-play first-person shooter grossed $17.7 million in the first week of its release. “Fortnite” only made $2.3 million in its opening week. “Battlegrounds” brought in $600,000 during the first seven days that it offered in-game purchases. Initially, PUBG did not enable that feature.
Given the record-shattering success that Activision has enjoyed, expect future top-shelf mobile games to have multi-region, fully monetized launches.
The Chinese Connection
Although “CoD” has been downloaded millions of times in the United States, Japan, Brazil, and India, the title hasn’t been released in China. That’s notable as the game comes from Timi Studio, a Tencent subsidiary based in Shenzhen. Previously, Activision teamed up with the Chinese conglomerate to release “Call of Duty Online” exclusively in the Communist nation in 2015.
However, the publisher may not have had a choice in holding the title back from release in the People’s Republic.
In August 2018, China’s Ministry of Education began scrutinizing Tencent’s video game output. The regulator argued that the firm’s popular titles caused an epidemic of myopia to break out among the country’s young people. Subsequently, the conglomerate instituted limits on the playtime of underage gamers.
Last December, the Chinese government also created a new agency called the Online Games Ethics Committee that reviews video games before they are released in the Sino market. Beijing charged the group with censoring titles that feature excessively violent or politically unacceptable content.
Accordingly, Tencent pulled “Battlegrounds” from release in China after its content ran afoul of local censors in May.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) gave “CoD” a Mature rating for intense, realistic violence, mild suggestive themes, and infrequent profanity or crude humor. As such, Activision and Tencent would have to sanitize the first-person shooter before attempting to release it in China.
Since the title is already doing so well in other parts of the world, the Chinese conglomerate may not bother creating a Sino specific version of the game.