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Did Modern Warfare 2/Warzone 2 suffer a higher player loss than Vanguard and Warzone?

Call of Duty lost more players the past quarter than it did after Vanguard's release, despite Modern Warfare 2's better sales.

Activision may have had a good quarter overall, but it looks like the numbers for its monthly active users are slipping. The company published its Q1 2023 financial results this week, boasting about a 35% rise in revenue compared to the same period last year.

In the release, Activision said net bookings rose across its five major franchises, including Call of Duty. In fact, revenue for Activision games grew 28% year-over-year during the quarter.

Releasing the campaign early is something we'll likely see return.

Call of Duty, in particular, was a major contributor to this growth. Indeed, Activision noted that sales for Modern Warfare 2 in the first quarter were "significantly higher" than the same period last year, which followed the launch of Vanguard.

But while the company said post-launch content and live service "had a positive impact on engagement," it appears overall monthly active users dropped. This is actually fairly typical for the series, as player numbers rise in the fourth quarter with the launch of a new Call of Duty, and drop during the first quarter of the following year as players trail off.

Activision's Q1 2023 MAUs.

What Activision did not mention, however, is that the drop from Q4 2021 to Q1 2022 (Vanguard/Warzone), was significantly lower than that seen in Q4 2022 to Q1 2023 (Modern Warfare 2/Warzone 2). As you can see in the chart above, which was included in this week's Q1 2023 report, monthly active users dropped from 111 million by the end of December, 2022 to 98 million by by the end of March 2023 - an 11.7% drop.

Compare this to December, 2021, when Activision had 107 millions monthly active users, which dropped to 100 million by the end of March, 2022 - a 6.5% drop. While Modern Warfare 2/Warzone 2 started off with a significantly higher figure - thanks to higher sales, anticipation and better overall reception - it shed more than Vanguard/Warzone did.

Activision's Q1 2022 MAUs.

It's worth noting that Activision does not split the numbers for its individual franchises or games, meaning series like Crash Bandicoot, as well as Call of Duty Mobile are all part of the same count.

That said, Call of Duty Mobile appears to only be growing in popularity. While we may not have official or up-to-the-day stats, ActivePlayer shows a fairly steady growth for the game since last summer, estimating over 61 million players over the last 30 days.

It's easy to speculate that the tepid player response to Warzone 2 since its release is to blame for this slip. The battle royale mode brought a number of significant design and gameplay changes, almost all of which were abandoned following its first major update. It's clear the changes didn't resonate with Warzone's audience, and it's evident that Activision continues to make changes and additions that turn the new game into a copy of the original, save for the new maps.

With all that in mind, it's yet another drop below 100 million monthly players, which has been happening quite often lately for Activision. In fact, it was Vanguard's poor reception that pushed it below 100 million for the first time in three years (Q2 2022).

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