Activision Blizzard says most of its games are on track ‘for now’

Kotick says it's too early to know what consequences of remote working will be

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has suggested it’s too early to know if any of the company’s games will be delayed following the switch to remote working in order to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

During an interview with CNBC, Kotick was asked how the move to homeworking has impacted game production at the Call of Duty publisher.

“I don’t know that we quite know yet,” he responded. “Most of the things that we have in production and development are on track for now. I think we’ll have to really reassess that in a month and in three months.

“We’ve been doing things like encouraging our employees to upgrade their home broadband to the highest bandwidth service and we’re paying for that, we had equipment available for take home so everyone in the software development, art or animation functions, we made equipment available so they had the newest most secure devices, but I think it’s still too early to know what the consequences [on] development will be for the next year or so.”

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick

In February, Activision confirmed plans to release a premium Call of Duty game in the fourth calendar quarter of the year, adding that the title—which is rumoured to be a gritty Black Ops reboot—was already “generating excitement” in playtests.

At the same time, it announced plans to release “several remastered and reimagined” games later this year. One of those, Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered, released earlier this month. Another is understood to be a Tony Hawk’s game.

While suggesting “no one wins in a situation like this”, Kotick also told CNBC that Activision’s games are being played more than normal after social distancing measures were put in place in many countries.

“We’re very fortunate, we launched a new free-to-play Call of Duty a few weeks ago and we’ve had over 50 million people sign up to play,” he said. “Candy Crush is performing exceptionally well. Most of our games are seeing record levels of engagement and people are getting the benefit of entertainment at home for what we do.”

In late March, Xbox Game Studios delayed the Minecraft Dungeons and Wasteland 3 release dates, and more recently Sony delayed flagship PS4 exclusive The Last of Us Part 2 indefinitely due to logistical issues caused by the coronavirus.

Prior to the delays, Xbox Game Studios boss Matt Booty said each of Microsoft’s in-house development teams was facing its own unique challenges and constraints, while Sony warned stakeholders there was a potential risk of first and third-party PlayStation games missing their planned release dates.