For years, the Call of Duty franchise has been at the pinnacle of modern war gaming, transporting players to the front lines of current and future combat scenarios and pushing the limits of current gaming tech. In 2017, for the first time in almost ten years, the franchise returns to where it all began, World War II.
We sat down with Activision's vice president of licensing and partnerships, Ashley Maidy, to find out what taking the series back to its roots will hold for the licensing industry.
Why was the decision to take the Call of Duty series back to the World War II setting made?
Ashley Maidy: Call of Duty: WWII marks a return to Call of Duty’s WWII roots. This is the right game, at the right time. When this project was greenlit three years ago, the team knew it was time to return to our roots so that was where we took this new game.
It is a breathtaking experience that redefines World War II for a new generation. Featuring stunning visuals, the Campaign tells the story of a legendary group of brave soldiers and their allies in their battle across the European theater. Inspired by true events, players will engage in an all-new Call of Duty story set in iconic battles such as the D-Day Invasion of Normandy, Operation Cobra and the Battle of Hürtgen Forest, all built for a new generation of hardware.
What will this change mean for opportunities in the licensing space?
Maidy: While Activision will continue to have a merchandising program that lives 365 days a year based on the Call of Duty franchise, we have created a program to help support and maximise value of the upcoming launch that consists of product categories and designs carefully inspired by World War II.
Will previous CoD games continue to be supported with content and licensed products after the release of CoD: WWII?
Maidy: We continue to support the passion of our fans by finding new ways for them to engage with the Call of Duty franchise. We see lots of fans returning to games such as Call of Duty: Black Ops III, which are supported with schedules of DLC and updates. This year Activision has also released Call of Duty: Black Ops III Zombies Chronicles, as well as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered for the latest generation of consoles.
The Call of Duty Consumer Products program continues its expansion and is supported across key categories including Apparel, Collectibles, Construction Sets, Mobile & Electronic Accessories, Strategy Guides, and Fashion Accessories.
Ashley Maidy, VP of licensing and partnerships, Activision
Can you name any stand-out upcoming consumer products projects for CoD?
Maidy: The Call of Duty Consumer Products program has evolved beyond one that only supports game title launches. Activision has developed a franchise program that lives beyond launch 365 days a year. The Call of Duty Consumer Products program continues its expansion and is supported across key categories including Apparel, Collectibles, Construction Sets, Mobile & Electronic Accessories, Strategy Guides, and Fashion Accessories.
Tell us about Call of Duty’s place in the world of eSports.
Maidy: During the last four years, Call of Duty has grown into a global eSports phenomenon, thanks in large part to competitive events like the Call of Duty Championship and the Call of Duty World League—a worldwide eSports league operated by Activision Blizzard. In addition to the Call of Duty franchise and title specific-branded licensing programs, Call of Duty World League will be added to the merchandising strategy in an effort to further engage our Call of Duty fans. 2017 Call of Duty World League will award $4M in total yearly prize purse and don’t forget that CWL Championships will take place in Orlando in August, where we’ll crown our winner from this season.
Anything to add?
Maidy: Call of Duty is returning to its World War II roots as the definitive World War II next generation experience. It’s a powerful narrative that honours the heroism of soldiers of World War II who fought together in a global conflict against a common enemy. Call of Duty: World War II puts players in the boots of a soldier, and features the epic scale, cinematic moments and intensity that only Call of Duty delivers.
The game defines World War II for the next generation, delivering a new level of gritty realism and cinematic intensity that wasn’t possible on old systems. It’s the most visually stunning Call of Duty title to date, immersing players in the world’s greatest conflict for the next generation. Call of Duty: World War II delivers the total package – an epic cinematic campaign, classic Call of Duty multiplayer and an unforgettable co-operative mode.