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Call of Duty Mobile: “We are not aiming to replace the traditional video game”

Call of Duty Mobile: "We are not aiming to replace the traditional video game"

We interviewed Chris Plummer, VP of the Mobile team at Activision, to talk about the first anniversary of Call of Duty: Mobile and its future.

October 1 marked the first anniversary of the launch of Call of Duty: Mobile, the first real bet to faithfully transfer the formula of the saga to mobile devices. The close collaboration between Tencent Games and Activision left us an ambitious free to play, which 12 months later can boast of having offered 10 seasons full of content for its community.

For this reason, we sat down via telematics with Chris Plummer, VP of the mobile team at Activision, to talk about the keys to their success and what we can expect from their coexistence with Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. Plummer has a long history in the industry, 25 years that have led him to companies such as Electronic Arts and Zynga. Their experience was added when it came to charting what they were looking for with Call of Duty: Mobile.

FreeGameTips: You have worked in the industry for 25 years, in companies like Electronic Arts or Zynga. How has the industry changed from those days until now? Especially around the mobile video game

Chris Plummer: Good question. The mobile gaming space has changed very fast, when smartphones first arrived, you know. In 2008 and 2009, there was a feeling at the time that this could perhaps replace the portable video game. It was a great time around them, but the business model was totally out of date. A couple of years later what we found was that mobile was a place where free to play really became the predominant business model. But as people were trying to figure out how to make it a profitable free-to-play business, they put some restrictions on, you know, the type of those games, the ambition of the games that they could carry out. So we saw a lot of casual games, a lot of simple games. But over time, the audience increased. Everyone has a smartphone, everyone is very used to, you know, picking up their device during a break or when they are going somewhere, or even on a train, and it became part of our lifestyle.

So with that way of increasing the audience, it really opened the canvas of what the great dream of the mobile video game has been, which was, you know, Triple A quality, high-caliber entertainment that is consumed in a different way, at the moment. and whenever you want. So the introduction of a Triple-A IP like Call of Duty, the project’s ambitious scale has been a combination of the audience out there. And also of the existing technology. Also the desire to make it come true, has a lot of difficulty developing this kind of Triple A experience in such a small device. But, you know, now we are seeing that it is becoming more and more common. Players can see what is possible and their expectations continue to rise. So we’re excited to be able to serve those players with Call of Duty: Mobile, and we want to continue to build on that success for years to come.

Call of Duty: Mobile interview Chris Plummer iphone android future

What have you put into practice in your work on Call of Duty: Mobile that you have learned from those years?

I was very fortunate to have worked on several first person shooters early in my career, so it has always been my favorite genre. So when I moved to mobile, one of the first projects I worked on was also a free to play mobile shooter. In some ways I have been working in this space for most of my career. You have a lot of repetitions that way, you know, you make a lot of mistakes, you see what works, you understand what are the key functions, technologies and problems that need to be solved. That is very, very helpful. It takes a long time to get to this point, but I think having those experiences repeating them and working in the shooter space and also in the mobile space helped me a lot, and it also helps a lot of people who have been successful in this genre. But it also takes a lot of support, a lot of support from the company, the brand and the players to make it all work, and the experiences get you there.

There are other factors to support you that come into play with the same relevance. I am very happy to work on this, in this genre, and with the biggest brand in the video game. And being able to do it with that passion and with that experience has been really good for me. And most importantly, we are trying to make the best possible game and everyone involved in Call of Duty: Mobile around the world wants to make the best possible game, and I think it shows.

Do you think games like Call of Duty: Mobile help the console community see the mobile video game as a real alternative to the traditional video game?

Well, I think it depends a lot on your playing style, right? We are not aiming to replace the traditional video game. What we are trying to do is fill the moments of your day when you want to be entertained, and we want to be the best option for it. If you are in front of your television or, you know, your platform to play and you feel like doing it, surely you are going to use that device. They are your preferences. But many players find themselves in situations where they just want to be entertained, they find themselves in many situations like this throughout the day where your mobile device is your best access point, and it is also the device where you are most socially connected.

For us, we are trying to make sure that we are their first choice when they are in those moments. The focus is that anytime, anywhere, when you feel like playing, we have this great option for you, and it will allow you to participate in Call of Duty: Mobile, you know, at any time of the day and whenever you feel like it. For me, my ritual sometimes first thing in the morning is to turn on my device, check my emails and, boom, you press and you’re in the game, it feels really natural. Then you talk to other players and they have other routines, maybe in the afternoon or when they are on a break from work. We pride ourselves on being able to fit into people’s lifestyles and in the way that works best for them. And that is one of the benefits of the mobile video game, what we are trying to offer.

We pride ourselves on being able to fit into people’s lifestyles

Playing it feels like a kind of homage to the saga. Was it intentional from the beginning?

From the beginning our efforts have always been to deliver that viscerally immersive experience of fast paced shootouts, while the controls feel smooth. And part of that also means offering familiar maps, familiar characters, the identity-stamped weapons, you know, the things that make it Call of Duty. Call of Duty: Mobile is kind of a big hit from the Call of Duty franchise if you’ve played these last few years. And if you are new to the saga, the benefit is that these maps are really tested, it is content approved by millions and millions of players who have already enjoyed them for years. There is very little risk that from a player’s perspective it is not incredibly fun because it has been proven for years and years. So our challenge was to make sure we can deliver that on a mobile device at the level of quality that the Call of Duty brand demands. It is absolutely destined to touch on the best moments of the saga and some of the best maps, modes, characters and content. And we will continue to do so.

Call of Duty: Mobile interview Chris Plummer iphone android future

We would like to meet the team behind Call of Duty: Mobile. How many people are involved in the game right now? How has communication been with Tencent Games this year? Especially in these times of coronavirus.

Well, I will not go into specific numbers, but we are a team distributed around the world supporting Call of Duty: Mobile. This includes, you know, developers, support, publishing and marketing people, our product teams, design teams, the eSports team, everyone who touches the game… it has such a global impact that we have people spread out all over the place. One of the benefits of our operation in recent months has been precisely that we have always been distributed. We always have communication protocols designed to simply run our business.

Since the game was being developed, or during our launch and testing, it was a time when communication was common around the globe about the key members and individual members of those who make Call of Duty: Mobile good and bring it to market. . So when the lockdown thing happened, you know, there was already a communication style laid out. It didn’t take much adaptation. Clearly we have all been impacted and we had to adapt, but it was not so jarring, simply because there was already a communication style in place. Teams communicate daily throughout the day, with all the key regions contributing to the game. It has been a collaborative work, like a 24 hours a day 7 days a week operation. It has been an incredible experience for me. I’ve been in the gaming industry for a long time and this has served as an experience to learn from.

Call of Duty: Mobile interview Chris Plummer iphone android future

What has been your greatest achievement in this first year on the market?

Our greatest achievement is bringing Call of Duty to mobile in a great, incredible, and high-quality way that fits the expectations of gamers. That’s the most important thing. We have also had other successes. The launch was huge, we had more than 300 million downloads worldwide. Those things are great. Honestly, everything is aimed at the player. When you talk to them, they had high expectations for a game like that. There was a lot of anxiety to be building something that is so important to the players and fans. I have to say that our greatest achievement is delivering the level of quality that our fans demand, and being able to support him this year has been our second greatest achievement.

I think it would be difficult to find a game on any platform and in any genre that has this level of volume and frequency when it comes to injecting high quality content month after month for a year. We are in the middle of our first anniversary right now. This is our eleventh season, and it’s amazing to see how much content goes in a single month, I mean, new characters, new modes, new events. I am aware that there are expectations about it, especially in a live service. It’s not like it’s unheard of to do this, but if you look at how much content is in the game and how we’ve been able to increase from the initial 11 multiplayer maps to more than double there now … We have, you know, 23 multiplayer maps, 27 multiplayer modes different during the game cycle, our battle royale map has been increased in size by 50%. We now have 1,400 weapons; We started with 200. We started with a lot of weapons, I don’t think anyone would say that 200 is a small number, but there are now 1400 and 82 playable characters. Anyone with even the slightest interest in the genre or the subject, I mean, you can get lost in the amount of incredible content that never ends. And we are proud of it. I think that’s what keeps players coming back month after month, not only is the gameplay great, but also the content is up to date. There is always something new. And we want to continue to do so.

It is very difficult to develop this type of Triple A experience in such a small device

What has been the most requested option by fans that is not yet included in the game?

That’s a good question. We usually have requests for things, but they are always things that are already inside. We renew things in cycles, you know, what we put in the playlists, but if you look at for example the gunsmith function that we introduced a couple of months ago, that was one of the most requested by players. You have full customization of every weapon in the game, with an interface that is amazing, so that’s a great example of something that players wanted that took a long time to get it right. We also introduced the Alcatraz map during our first anniversary, those kinds of examples are what they ask us.

There are players who might be new and haven’t seen all of the content we’ve released and, you know, sometimes things come and go because they’re available for a limited time. They ask for that content and sometimes they come back. We are evaluating it. We do a regular process of not only asking the community for feedback or ideas of what they want to see, but we also do a multitude of surveys and studies. We have of course the data, which in combination with the other things helps us to know what the audience is most interested in and we try to offer it at a consistent rate. One of the fun things about all this is that when a leak happens from an unannounced season, you’re a little nervous when it happens. But the community is usually happy, we see that the answer is that we listen to them. That is the answer we want to see. It’s not always perfect, but when you’re really close to the brand, it always makes us feel good. We have several seasons before the end of the year, and you will see some of the content that players have requested.

Call of Duty: Mobile interview Chris Plummer iphone android future

On November 13 we will see the launch of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. How will content development influence Call of Duty: Mobile? Will they go their separate ways?

We’re very excited about the release of Black Ops Cold War, and it’s going to be a great time for the Call of Duty series. For Call of Duty: Mobile, we are always thrilled to be able to incorporate content that makes sense to the audience. In the coming months, you will see a continued pattern of what we have established in the last year incorporating a combination of the best of the classic franchise and some of the new elements of this latest installment, including original content. We will continue that path, at the moment we are enjoying our first anniversary.

About author

Chris Watson is a gaming expert and writer. He has loved video games since childhood and has been writing about them for over 15 years. Chris has worked for major gaming magazines where he reviewed new games and wrote strategy guides. He started his own gaming website to share insider tips and in-depth commentary about his favorite games. When he's not gaming or writing, Chris enjoys travel and hiking. His passion is helping other gamers master new games.

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