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‘Call of Duty,’ New EA Sports Game Releases Remain On-Schedule Despite Pandemic

Activision, EA, Sony and more publishers launching new games this year

Activision Blizzard will release the newest installment in its “Call of Duty” series on schedule despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a move many game publishers including EA and Sony are looking to follow as quarantine measures continue.

Activision’s forthcoming “Call of Duty 2” title doesn’t have a specific release date yet — but the company said it remains on track for a 2020 launch.

“We still expect to deliver a robust slate of content over the remainder of the year,” Activision chief operating officer Daniel Alegre said during the company’s May 5 earnings call. “This includes the next premium release of ‘Call of Duty 2’, titles based on library (intellectual property) from Activision… regional testing for new mobile titles, and ongoing live operations across our key franchises.”

“Call of Duty: Warzone,” a multiplayer battle royale game from Activision, was released March 10 and gained 60 million users worldwide in its first quarter. The company said in a shareholder letter that other top games are receiving a boost as an increasing number of people turn to games as widespread stay-at-home orders persist.

This holiday season marks the debut of two new gaming consoles, the PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X. Both console-makers say they are on target for a holiday 2020 launch despite disruptions to the worldwide supply chain, and developers are scrambling to get their software ready to be launched on the new equipment.

Microsoft’s executive vice president of gaming Phil Spencer told CNBC last week that coronavirus hasn’t upended Microsoft’s launch plans. “Overall, I think we’re in line with where we thought we would be,” Spencer said.

“I’d say the bigger unknown is probably the game production,” Spencer noted. “Game production is a large scale entertainment activity now, you have hundreds of people coming together, building assets, working through creative.”

Other game developers like Electronic Arts and Sony Interactive are struggling to keep their release schedule intact as well. EA said in its May 5 earnings call it plans to release 14 new games through 2021, including four new EA Sports titles — a 2021 installment of “Madden,” “FIFA,” “NHL” and one other secret title are in development now. EA said it will also launch several titles on the Nintendo Switch in the coming months to cater to growing demand on that platform.

While the publisher was optimistic on its earnings call, both EA and other gaming firms acknowledged things might not go according to plan in second quarter of this year if the COVID-19 pandemic endures.

“Factors like macroeconomic challenges, the status of sports seasons, and long-term impacts to our productivity in a global work from home environment are among the areas we will be watching closely and could affect both player behavior and our ability to deliver on our planned timeline,” EA chief executive Andrew Wilson stated yesterday.