Activision Blizzard is admitting that Call of Duty: Vanguard didn’t meet expectations. In its 2021 annual report, the company stated that it believes that the World War II setting and lack of innovation over previous titles were the causes. Vanguard’s year-on-year sales were down 40% in the UK compared to Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War, and hype for the 2021 release has been noticeably lower across social channels.
Call of Duty: Vanguard sold significantly fewer copies than its predecessor
The Activision Blizzard annual report doesn’t give exact sales numbers, but it does mention Call of Duty: Vanguard as not meeting expectations several times throughout the document. Given that this admission is on the second page, we can assume that it did much worse than anticipated:
While Call of Duty remains one of the most successful entertainment franchises of all time, our 2021 premium release didn’t meet our expectations, we believe primarily due to our own execution. The game’s World War II setting didn’t resonate with some of our community and we didn’t deliver as much innovation in the premium game as we would have liked.
Apparently, Activision Blizzard also thought Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 and Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time underperformed as well. They were cited, along with Vanguard, as being part of why the company’s net revenue and operating income for 2021 were less than in 2020.
At least now we know why Vicarious Visions was restructured as Blizzard Albany, and Toys for Bob was assigned to be a Call of Duty: Warzone support studio. It’s unfortunate because Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 was the fastest-selling game in the franchise, and Crash Bandicoot 4 was widely praised by reviewers and fans.
Activision Blizzard says it’s aiming for the upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II (not to be confused with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2) to be more innovative than its predecessor. We’ll find out if that’s true when it launches later this year.