Activision Blizzard’s “Call of Duty: Mobile” displayed on a smartphone.
Ryan Browne | CNBC
A smartphone-based take on the hit video game franchise “Call of Duty” gained more than 100 million downloads in its first week, according to app data tracker Sensor Tower.
Sensor Tower told CNBC Tuesday that Activision Blizzard’s new game “Call of Duty: Mobile,” enjoyed the “largest mobile game launch ever,” breaking previous records. The firm said the game bettered Nintendo’s “Mario Kart Tour,” which saw 90 million installs in the first week of launch, and “Pokemon Go,” which was downloaded 85.5 million times in the first week of its debut in August 2016.
“Call of Duty: Mobile” also topped the first-week performance of rivals “Fortnite” and “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds,” which racked up 22.5 million and 28 million downloads respectively.
The game is initially free to play and comes with in-app purchases where users can buy skins for weapons and other equipment. That freemium model has proven successful with the likes of “Fortnite” and “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds,” which have lured in huge revenues thanks to gamers buying paid add-ons.
Launched by publisher Activision last week, “Call of Duty: Mobile” features similar gameplay to previous titles in the franchise, bar the fact that players are using their thumbs to move around and shoot enemies. It comes with maps from past hits like “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” and “Call of Duty: Black Ops.” It was developed by China’s TiMi Studios, a subsidiary of tech giant Tencent.
The mobile version also comes with a battle royale mode, following in the footsteps of competitors like “Fortnite.” Activision had previously experimented with the play option — which sees players battle to be the last player standing — with “Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.”
Gaming giants have been looking to cash in on the rise of mobile gaming, with Nintendo having recently released a mobile version of its Mario Kart franchise called “Mario Kart Tour.” Market research firm Newzoo estimates mobile gaming will generate $68.5 billion in revenue this year, accounting for 45% of the global market.
Shares of Activision Blizzard were down about 0.4% on Tuesday. The company has previously described 2019 as a “transition year,” and announced earlier this year that it would cut about 800 jobs while focusing more on its biggest franchises, “Call of Duty,” “Candy Crush,” “Overwatch,” “Warcraft,” “Hearthstone” and “Diablo.”