Activision Blizzard’s recent investor report suggests that the Call of Duty franchise has been having a rough go of it recently. The publisher estimates that Call of Duty has lost close to fifty million players over the past year, attributing the downward trend to the underperforming 2021 Call of Duty installment Call of Duty: Vanguard. That’s a considerable chunk of the player base, and some Call of Duty: Warzone fans believe that the game's developers are adding bots to bulk up the battle royale spin-off's otherwise thinning lobbies.
This speculation stems partly from a recent encounter Call of Duty: Warzone streamer theGivvy had with another player shortly after dropping into a match on Caldera. Right after landing, the streamer let off a few small arms rounds at a nearby player who then completely failed to react, moving with a single-minded focus to a nearby buy station. It’s hard to say with any authority whether this player was indeed an AI, but Call of Duty: Warzone players do tend to act with the concept of self-preservation in mind—though that’s not always the case.
Bots aren’t a totally foreign concept in battle royale gaming; Fortnite has made use of them, and Call of Duty first allowed players to add bots to custom matches in 2010’s Call of Duty: Black Ops. However, the timing of this controversy comes across as a bit strange. Not only is Call of Duty currently hemorrhaging players, but many key influencers such as Dr. Disrespect and TimTheTatman have openly criticized the new Caldera map. As a result, it could be that Call of Duty’s publisher felt the need to surreptitiously inflate player numbers in order to see the franchise through its current dry spell.
That said, several Call of Duty: Warzone fans responded to a Reddit post made by theGivvy by pointing out that Activision's player numbers weren’t entirely accurate. While it is true that fewer gamers are engaging with the franchise today than last year, Activision’s estimates count Call of Duty: Vanguard and Call of Duty: Warzone players separately, meaning that one person who happens to play both games would be counted as two separate players. Call of Duty: Vanguard’s disappointing sales figures may have contributed to this downturn, but it’s not quite as significant as the publisher claims.
Additionally, while an estimated fifty million active users were reportedly lost over the past year, Activision still estimates that the franchise enjoys a player base of roughly one hundred million. Plus, with the recent confirmation of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 dropping this year, it’s likely that many disinterested players will return when it releases.
Call of Duty: Warzone is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
Related Forum: Call of Duty Forum