Hardcore gamers. That is, the gaming fraternity that fraternises intimately with the desktop and console platforms, tends to have a bee in its bonnet when it comes to mobile gaming. Often with good cause. Especially when there’s a perception that a mobile release is just a cash-in on a successful concept marketed at a broader audience that really doesn’t have the same investment in their precious IP. Hardcore gamers are funny about that sort of thing – ownership of a brand.
But sometimes it all works out.
The strategy world has had its fair share of successes with the likes of Civilization and more recently, Frostpunk. And we all know that little cross-play title, mobile included, in Hearthstone is beyond an exception to the rule. So while we do paint ourselves with a similarly thick brush to that hardcore gamer crowd we’ve talked about here, we’re not so quick to judge, and when it comes to the world’s biggest name in gaming, Call of Duty, which has its own mobile release, we’re glad we didn’t turn our noses up.
Recently we had a chance to chat with the team behind the mobile version of the game. Check out what they had to say below.
It brings together the most beloved maps, competitive modes, familiar characters and signature weapons from across this storied franchise...
Red Bull: There’s an obvious gravity that comes with the name “Call of Duty” that would largely transcend platform to most. Still, for people out there dubious of playing such a high-profile title on a mobile device for fear of a lesser experience to a dedicated gaming platform, can you talk about what makes CoD on mobile not only playable, but also challenging and fun?
Call of Duty: Mobile Team: What makes Call of Duty: Mobile unique is that it brings together the most beloved maps, competitive modes, familiar characters and signature weapons from across this storied franchise, including Black Ops and Modern Warfare, while also delivering new content and experiences for fans to explore.
At its core, Call of Duty: Mobile feels as visceral and action-packed as you'd want from a Call of Duty experience, but we've made significant customisations to some of the fan-favourite systems from the console/PC experience and made them more adaptable to how mobile gamers prefer to play. When players get their hands on the game for the first time, they are surprised that it’s a Call of Duty game through and through, while also being tailored for mobile.
Red Bull: In saying that, how has the mobile platform shifted the direction of design for a game that is seen as following fairly important gameplay beats and feature tentpoles? Has there been something from mobile development of the series (outside of mobility) that stands out as revelatory against the PC and console releases?
Call of Duty: Mobile Team: Outside mobility and form factor changes, the frequency and composition of Seasons is different between platforms. For the Call of Duty: Mobile team, Seasons are a key framework in how we package and deliver new maps, modes, cosmetics, and new functional items. Most console and PC games have seasons somewhere between 2-4 months, and that works great for their audiences.
On mobile we've found players prefer seasons that are shorter and more thematic. For example, with the launch of Season 4 in May, the content [wasn’t] only jammed packed with our 80s Action Heroes event, but the season also has a Wild West aesthetic. We have an event called “High Noon Chase” that lets players form a posse to track down a stagecoach full of bank robbers to unlock nodes and earn XP and themed rewards along the way.
This event will be launching later in the season on 12 June, but it gives you insight into how we’re approaching our content drops for fans that different from what can be done in a console/PC game where the storyline is a bit more streamlined. We’ve worked hard on planning a cadence throughout the year that we think players are going to like. You’ll see some examples of new and bigger thinking around our seasonal content very soon!
Because of fundamental differences in how engagement happens across platforms it is important there isn't a 1:1 translation...
Red Bull: Seasonal content is a major facet now in the Call of Duty camp. Do you feel this is better suited to the mobile platform? Is there a fine line in managing a mobile community over that of PC and console given some people might drop off, or only play casually?
Call of Duty: Mobile Team: Seasonal content with a heavy creative Season wrapper is something mobile games learned from console/PC games. But because of fundamental differences in how engagement happens across platforms it is important there isn't a 1:1 translation. It's important to consider these across systems, from game elements like matchmaking and core game controls to others like event tuning and marketing.
Red Bull: Is it difficult to scale the mobile game to so many different platforms that are constantly in hardware shift and update? How do you approach development when bigger screens, better resolutions and so many other bells and whistles join the mobile fray on the regular?
Call of Duty: Mobile Team: This is not specific to Call of Duty: Mobile, all mobile games live in this wonderful crazy ecosystem where change is a constant and the pace of innovation is fast. I think all mobile teams expect hardware and software to be different tomorrow, so we build from the start trying to future-proof ourselves as much as possible.
Red Bull: Finally, what is the internal drive within the team to keep this CoD offering fresh enough to keep the punters coming back?
This level of immersion helps us understand what is and isn't working...
Call of Duty: Mobile Team: On the Mobile team, we rely on the strength and engagement of our passionate community. Anyone working in games knows this! But more importantly, the team is made up of passionate fans of this game, the Call of Duty franchise, and the genre, so it’s easier to put all that passion into the game and produce a final product that fans want. This level of immersion helps us understand what is and isn't working and most importantly, what to do about it.
The momentum worldwide for Call of Duty: Mobile has been fantastic, and we continue to see more new players in our game and existing players enjoying each new season with a continual stream of modes, maps, items and characters. We recently announced the game has surpassed more than 500M downloads since launch with no signs of slowing down, so we must be doing something right.