Ever since Activision removed dedicated server support from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 back in 2009 (leading to a largely ineffectual attempted boycott from PC players), the popular series has had something of a reputation as a franchise focused first on console players and second on afterthought PC ports. That’s especially true when compared to other contemporary shooter franchises like Battlefield. But Activision’s orientation toward PC players has been changing a bit over the years, with Destiny 2‘s recent move to the PC and a hybrid server model being some of the most noticeable signs.
So our ears perked up this week when, in an earnings call Thursday evening, Activision Blizzard President and CEO Coddy Johnson promised that the company has “invested significant dedicated resources and design time” to the PC version of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. The company wants to “make sure we can deliver a great PC game to serve that community.”
Johnson didn’t go into any detail on what those “dedicated resources” might mean for PC players, beyond pablum like the game “continu[ing] to push the envelope in innovation” and including “a number of new exciting developments.” But he did specifically call out the game’s “appeal on growth platforms like PC” as a focal point ahead of a larger gameplay reveal set for May 17.
Elsewhere in the call, Activision executives addressed the rising popularity of “Battle Royale” shooters like PUBG and Fortnite, which have recently taken a lot of industry and player attention away from more traditional online shooters like Call of Duty. Activision Blizzard CFO Spencer Neumann acknowledged Activision was feeling a “near-term impact from Battle Royale,” even though Call of Duty still grew overall year-over-year.
But Activision CEO Bobby Kotick added coyly that “when we see things that appeal to our audiences, we are very good at being inspired by those,” which could easily be seen as a hint that Battle Royale is coming to Black Ops 4. That would gel with reports by Kotaku, Eurogamer, and others suggesting the company is working on such a mode for Black Ops 4 . Those reports also suggest the game will ditch the standard single-player and co-op campaign in favor of a focus on multiplayer gameplay and the “Zombies” survival mode.
Put it all together, and you get the impression that Activision might be ready to really shake up the somewhat formulaic, console-focused design of Call of Duty this year. Now that we’re over a decade on from the original Modern Warfare , that’s not an unwelcome sign.