Its the first true celebration of the series
Where previous mobile phone Call of Duty titles, like Call of Duty: Heroes, did attempt to bring elements of the series' 16-year history into the fold, they frequently side-stepped around parts of it. The aforementioned Heroes brought well regarded characters into its roster, however it was a real time strategy game in the vein of Clash of Clans.
Unlike Faceroll Games' effort however, Tencent's sticks to the genre that the series is best known for. In addition to that, the roster of characters are joined by a familiar roster of maps. Many people might have groaned at the continued reappearance of Nuketown in the console and PC outings, but it is synonymous with the series and that familiarity will be an extra thing which will keep the game installed even after the honeymoon period wears off.
That familiarity is also the first time that Activision have taken core elements from both the Black Ops and Modern Warfare series and crossed them over within a traditional PVP multiplayer shooter on mobile platforms.
The price is right, for the first time
I don't know how many of you have stood in a shop at Christmas time and listened to comments about the latest Call of Duty. Since season passes and DLC were added into the equation a decade ago there's been mumbled discontent at the real cost of the full game. This then increased when the prices of current gen consoles failed to drop even a few years after release. Call of Duty Mobile is Free to Play, and it's the first full-on, console-style PVP multiplayer, FPS Call of Duty title which can say that.
What this means is that if the game only launches with half a dozen maps, an extensive unlock system, and a few shortcut purchases available amid the promise of future content, it will have an almost unmatched install rate.
This is especially obvious when you consider that…
Activision already has an active userbase playing their console and PC releases, and Tencent already has a large userbase throughout their games. Almost all of these games feature messaging and notice systems which will allow the developer and publisher to push messages to their audience about the new, free version of the game. This is before we even consider that both already have advertising budgets, and the ability to case stuff promos, far exceeding most other developers.
Call of Duty Mobile doesn't need to create an audience, it simply needs to adopt one from its predecessors, something which can be easily facilitated due to the fact that it shares the intense, first-person multiplayer which was core to the series' successes.
How does massive advertising campaigns help you, the player? It gets more people into the game on day one. A large userbase is the best way to keep the game live.
Call of Duty doesn’t discard its killer apps
The first Call of Duty released 16 years ago with a teen ESRB rating. This means that the series has - ignoring all possible ill-advised parental purchases - almost passed the half a generation mark. It has managed to do that through tweaking and tailoring the experience through consecutive experiences. Call of Duty Mobile might not launch with the pre-existing audience of Fortnite or PUBG, but it does it with over a dozen years of experience in the pacey shooting element of the genre.
Elements like zombies, hardcore mode, take 10, kill streaks, have come, gone and twisted to fit new audiences and keep the core series sales at healthy levels.
That said, they are moving into a field dominated by the previously mentioned shooters, even if its core is not battle royale style gameplay, and their offering in the same department - Blackwatch - is untested on mobile and is only lightly teased in the footage we've seen so far.
It's not late to the party
Sometimes, not being first is for the best.
PUBG and Fortnite have shown that multiplayer can work well on the mobile platforms, and their stumbles have likely served as important observations for the Call of Duty Mobile team.
Having watched them twist and turn to tailor to the mobile audience has likely given them plenty of information to consider. And while the games hardly need to compete directly, the audiences are quick to transfer, especially to an established brand which gets its boots on the ground in good stead.