When Activision introduced battle royale mode Blackout in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 back in 2018, few could have predicted that it would act as the foundations for an industry juggernaut. That’s just what its spiritual successor in Warzone is.
Introduced in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare‘s Season 2 drop, Call of Duty: Warzone has evolved from an in-game multiplayer expansion to a standalone, free-to-play beast, one that is clearly the course of prioritisation at Call Of Duty HQ.
It’s grown from 60 million active players around launch in early 2020, to 100 million active players as of April 2021, a feat your vanilla Call Of Duty experience could only dream of. Of course, being free-to-play and no longer requiring ownership of either Modern Warfare nor Black Ops – Cold War has undoubtedly helped boost player numbers, and certainly helped increase the franchise’s presence on PC.
Warzone‘s shift to a free-to-play model suggests a few things. Firstly, the game is clearly generating enough revenue for Activision that it no longer needs to force players into purchasing the full annual game to play it. Secondly, it points to a shift in focus across the Call of Duty model, at least for franchise developer Raven Software.
Raven has long played second fiddle to the “big boys” of the Call of Duty scene. The studio is an industry stalwart, but has mostly assisted with development across Call of Duty games, while taking the reins on Modern Warfare Remastered. Much like it had in recent years, it “assisted” Infinity Ward on the development of Warzone, but is now listed as the sole developer. It appears Raven has been promoted, such is the insane success of Warzone over the past twelve months.
The studio’s recent successes can’t be ignored: it co-developed Black Ops – Cold War with Treyarch, and stepped up to develop what many consider thebest Call of Duty single-player campaign in years. This success came after the game’s turbulent beginnings, with Call of Duty 2021 developer, Sledgehammer Games, effectively booted off the game and demoted for a year when things weren’t looking good.
Raven was long a “support” team, often overlooked by the Call of Duty faithful whilst the likes of Infinity Ward, Treyarch and Sledgehammer were front-and-centre for the franchise’s marketing train. The tide has turned, however, and Raven is now leading what may well be the future of the franchise.
In the past twelve months alone — and aligning with the continued growth and success of Warzone — Raven has boosted its stock of talent. Based on some crafty analysis by VGC, the studio has seen a 50% increase in the number of employees according to Linkedin data.
The studio has 41 active job openings and a reported crew already exceeding 350 staff, not including those that don’t have Linkedin profiles. When you consider the studio had approximately 150 staff back in 2015 when it was working on Modern Warfare Remastered, it’s seen growth as a company of 133%. That’s rather impressive, albeit reflective of the studio’s enhanced portfolio.
When you look at the type of talent joining the Raven ranks, it only further solidifies the studios as a growing force in the industry. Manuel Torrest Pineda from Titanfall developer Respawn; Fortnite senior producer, William Fine; Far Cry 6 game director, Ted Timmins.
There’s no shortage of talent and given the studio’s continued focus on Warzone, it’s apparently that Activision intends to fully support the product well into the future.