Last month, Activision officially unveiled Call of Duty: WW2, this year's entry in the longrunning FPS franchise. The game seeks to go back to the series' roots, after fans spoke out about its recent sci-fi leanings — and it seems that the new direction is having the desired effect.
"Negative social media sentiment, which was an issue last year, has virtually evaporated," said Bobby Kotick, the president and CEO of Activision Blizzard, speaking on a Q&A call with the company's investors. There are high hopes that Call of Duty: WW2 could be the turnaround that the Call of Duty franchise is in need of.
Last year's installment, Infinite Warfare, was the best-selling game of 2016, but the publisher feels that it underperformed in all key markets. However, pre-orders for WW2 have already gotten off to a strong start, so it seems that the change of era is resonating with players.
Kotick's comments about social media sentiment are supported by some pretty conclusive statistics. The reveal trailer for Infinite Warfare was lambasted when it hit YouTube, accumulating millions of dislikes. By contrast, the reveal of Call of Duty: WW2 quickly became the most liked trailer in the franchise's history.
Of course, there is a risk associated with taking the series back to the twentieth century. Last year, EA released Battlefield 1 to widespread acclaim, and despite WW2 reportedly being greenlit before this project made its debut, Call of Duty could end up being seen as following what's popular elsewhere, rather than leading the pack.
However, the Battlefield series is set to skip 2017 as EA concentrates its efforts on Star Wars Battlefront II. This leaves the market for a historical FPS wide open, and Call of Duty: WW2 looks set to capitalize on demand for such a title, as well as the continuing appeal of the Call of Duty franchise.
Over the past few years, Call of Duty has shown signs that its crown might be about to slip, but this year the series is in a strong position to re-establish itself as the market leader. It's certainly an important time for the biggest name in the FPS genre, and the success or failure of WW2 will have major repercussions going forward.
Call of Duty: WW2 launches for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on November 3, 2017.