During their investor call today, Activision dropped some rather big news about their plans for 2021, and 2022 as well as other financial news. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that the highly anticipated Overwatch 2 will not be releasing this year, meaning that the single-player Overwatch content won't be released until at least 2022, and that updates on Overwatch will continue at the current tepid pace.
With its proposed place as a mixture of sequel, expansion, and continuation, Overwatch 2 was announced at BlizzCon 2019, with it being mentioned as already have been worked on and a reason why players weren't getting necessarily all the updates that they were wanting. Since then, news has been relatively rare beyond reports that didn't indicate the best, but now we know ahead of virtual BlizzCon later this month not to expect an Overwatch 2 release date for this year. That said, a 2022 Overwatch 2 release date seems likely with them mentioning a step up in revenues in 2022.
Diablo 4 Release Date Not for 2021
Overwatch 2 was not the only 2019 BlizzCon-announced game to have bad news for release this year. The next entry in the ARPG hack-and-slash series, Diablo 4, was announced with much fanfare following Diablo Immortal, with a promise to the more gothic, dark roots of the series. Sadly there will be no Diablo 4 release date set in 2021, as work on the series continues at Blizzard, and it seems likely for a Diablo 4 release date to be in 2022, for much the same reason as Overwatch 2. Both titles release being that far off may also be impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has slowed development work.
Diablo 2 Remastered Seems Likely to be announced in 2021
The long removed Diablo 2 Remastered seems likely to be announced this year, with Activision mentioning that new remastered content will be revealed this year. This would also very much tie in with the recent move of Vicarious Visions into Blizzard, and them being rumored to be working on the Diablo 2 Remaster.
Diablo Immortal Release Date Planned for This Year
Mobile is a major focus still at Blizzard, with them wanting to get their IPs further exposed to players, and further exploit them with audiences. Further exposure also in theory allows Blizzard to spend their time on their development without concern as they are still making money from the products in mobile. Diablo Immortal right now is in test launch in several regions where it is doing well, and it is planned to launch later this year.
Also in mobile news, King is planning to launch the Crash Bandicoot runner Crash Bandicoot On the Run next month, and is planning to work further on owned IP. This could mean more games using IP from either the Activision or Blizzard libraries.
World of Warcraft Shadowlands and Classic are Huge Successes
World of Warcraft Shadowlands has been the biggest success for a World of Warcraft expansion in the past decade. This has been a big part of the success of having $3-billion annual franchises (Call of Duty and Candy Crush are the others). Helping propel this also is World of Warcraft Classic, which has grown the subscriber base, and there are plans to deliver content through the subscriptions.
Building on that also is the role of mobile expansion, as there are plans for some sort of Warcraft-based experience for free on phones. Whether this is something more in the strategy area or the MMO side isn't clear at this time.
Call of Duty Still a Huge Success
To perhaps no surprise, Call of Duty has continued to be a huge success with Call of Duty Warzone and Call of Duty Mobile continuing to grow the IP in revenue. Today, Activision announced that Call of Duty has earned over $27 billion in revenue since its first release, making it one of the most successful franchises in history. On a sales note, Call of Duty: Black Ops and Modern Warfare combined for a 40% increase on Call of Duty premium sales year over year.
While Blizzard appears to be missing major premium releases in 2021, there will be no such skip with Call of Duty, as there is planned to be another Call of Duty premium title to release in 2021. Also, we would like to inform you that water is wet.
All in all 2020 has proven to be a big success for Activision Blizzard, but 2021 is likely to be more of a consolidation and mobile year ahead of a big year in 2022.