Mobile Mavens

How big can King's Call of Duty mobile game be?

Discussing the potential of the shooter genre on mobile

How big can King's Call of Duty mobile game be?

After hiring a team for an unnamed "midcore shooter" at its Stockholm studio since January, Candy Crush developer King has now revealed that the project is a Call of Duty mobile game.

This is the first example of King being put to work on an Activision Blizzard property since the $5.9 billion acquisition, but it is a far cry from the casual titles for which King is known.

As such, it will be intriguing to see how the team King is currently assembling in Stockholm sets about adapting the Call of Duty experience for mobile. After all, one developer already believes we'll see a top 10 grossing mobile shooter in the next few years.

To hear more mobile games industry reactions to the news, we asked our Mobile Mavens:

  • Are you surprised to see King developing a Call of Duty mobile game?
  • How big an opportunity do you consider the shooter genre on mobile?
Wilhelm Taht Executive Vice President, Games Rovio

  • No.
  • Very big if the execution is amazing.

Devin Nambiar Head of Product and Partnered Development Electronic Arts

Given that Activision had previously released a Call of Duty mobile game, it’s not surprising that they would have another go of it, especially now that they’ve amassed more mobile expertise via the King acquisition.

The hope is that given their competency on mobile, they can create a mobile-first Call of Duty game that engages and monetises players.

Tencent has a mobile version of Cross Fire that is consistently in the top 10 to 15 grossing.
Devin Nambiar

It is true however, that King doesn’t have a lot of expertise in the genre and had to hire up in their Sweden studio for this project. Given that, it’s not a guarantee that they’ll be able to pull it off.

In terms of the FPS genre on mobile, the opportunity definitely seems to be there.

Tencent, which has made roughly $1 billion per year on its Cross Fire PC game, now has a mobile version of the game that is consistently in the top 10 to 15 grossing across iOS and the various Android channels.

Execution, however - as Wilhelm said - is key. King would do well to study how Tencent has managed the game across PC and mobile, and use the game as a model of what a mobile-first FPS game looks like.

If they can do that, the Call of Duty IP will take the game to even greater heights.

[people id="11" name="Brian Baglow"]

Giving the game to King makes a lot of sense since they're the 'mobile division' of Activision. It'll be interesting to see what they do with it. I'm hoping for something more creative than the usual virtual twin-stick FPS gubbins.

Shooters could be huge on mobile, they just shouldn't be the same as shooters on other platforms.

The call for new applicants on King's website

The control system(s) impose constraints that make trying to emulate PC/console experiences just awkward and, in a lot of cases, not much fun.

Someone needs to come along and show that shooters can be a lot more innovative on mobile, even if they are different to the hardest of the hardcore 'proper' games that 'proper' gamers know and love.

I can't wait to see what sort of reaction the fan communities (and 'proper' games media) will have to this. It'll be like Facebook buying Oculus all over again!


Nicolas Godement-Berline Head of Operations Asmodee Digital

The news is not surprising at all.

King have already made multiple attempts to enter the midcore market with games like the soft-launched and subsequently canned Hero or the acquisition of [the now-closed] Nonstop Games and Z2Live.

FPS has already been tackled on mobile by games like Deer Hunter.
Nicolas Godement-Berline

Leveraging the Call of Duty brand makes a lot of sense.

Personally, I think FPS has already been tackled on mobile by games like Deer Hunter, Kill Shot or Sniper Arena.

Sure they are not true FPS games like CoD, but that slow-mo bullettime headshot does convey some of the same core emotions, much like runners or base builders are to mobile what platformers and RTS are to console/PC.

It'll be interesting to see whether King follow that approach or if they go for a full-on shooter.

Reginaldo Valadares General Manager Rovio Stockholm

Reginaldo started his career in games 16 years ago when he founded Jynx Playware – a pioneer in online multiplayer games in Brazil. In 2010 he took the lead of Glu Mobile’s studio in Sao Paulo where he released Blood and Glory, first and only Glu’s title to date to secure a 5 stars rating.

Reginaldo moved to Berlin in 2012 for a brief passage at Wooga and later on at Aeria Games, where he learned the game business from the publishing side. Last fall Reginaldo realised Germany was not cold enough and moved to Finland to be Head of Production for Rovio Stars.

No surprises and the potential is huge.

If they can offer a game that plays better on mobile than on PC, they have a top grossing title in their hands.

Scott Foe Chief Product Officer Ignited Artists

"If they can offer a game that plays better on mobile than on PC," is a sentence that I love; we should add that to the zeitgeist.

All hail Rovio's Reginaldo Valadares.

William D. Volk Chief Futurist Forward Reality

Not surprised at all. I contend that one of the reasons Activision acquired King was their mastery of the free-to-play environment.

I think the opportunity is big, and when Apple rolls out augmented reality in about a year, location-based FPS games will be the next Pokemon GO.

Tony Gowland CEO Ant Workshop

Tony’s career has covered the whole spectrum from AAA console to handheld, mobile and flash titles, working on huge franchises such as Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, and Call of Duty.

In 2015 he founded Ant Workshop to develop his own titles and to offer his experience as a design consultant.

I look forward to the inevitable, terrible mainstream news stories a location-based shooter would provoke!

Though saying that, I think there are a couple of assumptions here.

Firstly, everyone’s assuming that it’ll be a first-person shooter of some variety. The last mobile CoD game wasn’t (it was build and battle), and Strike Team was 50% top-down tactical play.

I think there are some excellent Call of Duty games to be made on mobile, but I’m not entirely convinced they will be “pure” first-person shooters.

To hark back to last week, I could see a synchronous PvP tactical squad battler working very well.

The second assumption is that just because King is great at casual free-to-play, they’ll be great at making a midcore experience that appeals to fans of that brand.

And they are saying it’ll be “authentic”, so I don’t think it’ll be a huge departure from the series’ core vibe.

You wouldn’t buy a studio that excels in racing games and then put them to work on an RTS, and I think it’s slightly odd that people are treating F2P as a genre when they’re talking about King’s expertise.

I’m sure internally they’re aware of this though, and this hiring shout-out is to fill in some of those gaps.

Features Editor

Matt is really bad at playing games, but hopefully a little better at writing about them. He's Features Editor for, and has also written for lesser publications such as IGN, VICE, and Paste Magazine.