When you want to recreate a popular gaming brand on mobile, the expectations are HUGE.
Call of Duty: Mobile delivered on the expectations, and then some.
Let me guide you through how the game works, what’s so good about it, and how it monetizes. I will analyze Call of Duty Mobile monetization in detail.
Let’s dive right in!
How Successful Is Call of Duty: Mobile?
When Call of Duty: Mobile appeared, it made history right out of the gate. Just one month after the launch, Call of Duty: Mobile got to:
- 148 million downloads
- $53.9 million in revenue
(Unless stated otherwise, the data in this article comes from an internal source.)
Talk about impressive. With these numbers, Call of Duty: Mobile became the second most successful mobile game launch ever (by downloads). It was beaten only by Niantic’s Pokémon GO.
The game was released in October 2019 by Activision (it was developed by Timi Studios). Genre-wise, this game falls into the action genre and first-person shooter subgenre.
Over the years, this game reached 322,4 million downloads and $559 million in revenue. As you can see, its revenue chart is pretty stable, with no major ups and downs.
The downloads are driven by the game’s advertising strategy. On the other hand, the revenues come from the game’s monetization strategy.
This game was not the first one that tried to bring the famous PC game to mobile screens. Activision had not one, but four unsuccessful Call of Duty mobile game attempts. Not to mention different games that tried to copy COD gameplay.
What made this game an exception then? Time to analyze.
First, you will wait for a while for the game to download because it takes up 5.5 GB. Okay, for this much storage, it better be amazing.
When you first begin playing, you get to customize your character. You give it a name and an avatar, and you’re ready to start.
To become a trained soldier, you have to go through, of course – boot camp. Here, Simon “Ghost” Riley teaches you the basics of controls, aiming, and firing.
The tutorial works on a try and learn principle. After basic training, you will be getting pointers for a while, until you get a hold of the game’s main features. In fact, the first pointer leads you straight to the store – where you’ll buy your first rifle by using COD points.
Call of Duty: Mobile comes with thrilling 3D graphics. Most importantly, it brings an authentic COD experience.
You can’t help but notice just how realistic the whole experience feels. Everything is worked out to the smallest detail – from textures to special effects.
For the most part, you will be battling from the first-person perspective (exception: Battle Royale).
For a first-person shooter game, user experience is crucial. You want players to move simply while showing off their abilities and precision.
In Call of Duty: Mobile, players even get to pick between two firing modes: simple and advanced. This option lowers the entry barrier, making the game enjoyable and customizable right from start.
The game’s home screen is pretty feature-rich. Here is a basic feature position overview:
- Player info and currencies amounts (top)
- Events, special offers, store (left)
- Game modes to play (right)
How Call of Duty: Mobile Works?
Call of Duty: Mobile works on a similar principle as its PC version. The game’s core loop consists of:
- Participating in combats
- Upgrading gear
- Leveling up
Let me give you an overview of the game’s main modes and mechanics.
5v5 Multiplayer Combats
This game revolves around exciting combat mechanics. In the game’s main mode – multiplayer, there are multiple maps where battles take place.
Besides that, there are six different mission styles you can play – from frontline to team deathmatch.
Important mechanics that appear in the combat are revival and health regeneration. Every time you die, you respawn and come back to the game. Also, when your character is injured, it takes a few seconds to recuperate.
Your in-game performance matters. Depending on it, participating in battles earns you XP, weapon XP, COD Credits (soft currency), and other resources. Some of them help you level up, while others help you enhance your gear.
Besides leveling up individual weapons, battling also increases your overall player level. The XP won through battles allows players to level up on both fronts.
Also, the progression never resets. This way, players have a constant feeling of advancement.
Besides the multiplayer mode, there is a Ranked mode. One of its perks is it gives players a chance to win extra cosmetics. For example, I played only a couple of ranked matches and received multiple weapon skins. Playing the multiplayer mode got me none of those.
There is another, completely different mode – Battle Royale. Here, players also earn experience that helps them level up and increase their season rank. However, it’s interesting that this mode limits permanent upgrades so they don’t ruin the game balance. Here, the monetization focus is mostly on cosmetics.
Call of Duty Mobile Monetization Strategy Dissection
Call of Duty: Mobile is the type of game that mostly attracts mid-core and hardcore gamers. However, the game will inevitably reach some casual and social gamers as well.
Knowing who your players are is super important for game monetization. You can decide to focus on separate player groups or – all of them.
Which Monetization Models Call of Duty: Mobile Uses?
In 2021, more and more games are embracing hybrid monetization. Call of Duty: Mobile is one of them.
With this kind of approach, it is able to make money off different types of players.
Call of Duty: Mobile In-App Purchases Setup and Price Points
In-app purchases are the main source of revenue of the three. Therefore, the center of monetization is the game’s big and diverse in-game store.
There are two currencies in Call of Duty Mobile:
- COD Points (hard currency)
- Credits (soft currency)
COD Points can only be bought with real-life currency, while you can earn Credits as in-game rewards.
Let me give you a tour of the store.
First, there is a Featured section. Here, you can find different highlighted offers with the Battle Pass as the star of the section. Next, a For you section stands for one weapon recommended for you.
Here are all the store’s offerings in one place.
Crates are the game’s loot boxes. You can buy one or ten of them and try out your luck.
All crates cost you COD points, with amounts depending on their potential value. Here are the prices and their approximate dollar values:
- One crate costs from 40 to 160 COD points ($0.50 to $2)
- Ten crates range from 360 to 1,440 COD points ($4 to $14)
Are the crates worth it? Well, the odds depend from crate to crate. Inside them, different items come with different odds. The probabilities go from 0.29% for the rarest items to 10.35% for more common ones.
The thing is, the visuals for crates highlight the rarest items. Therefore, if you’re hoping for those, you should know that the odds are not exactly in your favor.
Next in the store are multiple Bundles. They combine soldiers, weapons, skins, etc.
Some of the bundles are going to attract players looking for faster progression, while others will attract those that are looking for cosmetics.
Here, you will find one free bundle. After you get a taste of it, you will probably want to check other offers.
The bundle prices go from 420 to 2,400 ($5 to $20), with no discounts. This range of offers and prices provides something for each player type.
Obviously, this section brings different types of weapons (knives, grenades, rifles, etc.).
The price points go from the lowest 200 for knives ($2) to 1,000 COD points ($11) for the most powerful rifles.
It’s interesting that all weapons come at a 37% discount. These items and price points are suitable for relatively new, engaged players. They are mostly looking for items like these that help them progress faster.
Here, players come to buy different cosmetic items to, well, show off. They cost anywhere from 150 to 1,000 COD points ($1.5 to $11).
A lot of stuff here is usable in the Battle Royale mode only (e.g., vehicle camos and parachutes).
The cosmetics offer for multiplayer mode players is pretty poor – it includes only a couple of sprays.
In this section, you will find two completely different types of cards – weapon XP cards and a rename card.
The weapon cards are heavily discounted, at 80% off. With the discount, they cost 40 and 80 COD points ($0,5 to $1). However, if you want to change your name with the rename card, this will cost you 500 COD points ($6).
The weapon cards are potential first-time purchases. This is because they directly impact player progress and come at low (discounted) prices. The rename cards will appeal to, well, anyone who wants to change their name that badly.
This is the only place in the store where you don’t have to spend any real money.
The credit shop offer mostly consists of weapons, but there are also skins and other items.
Note that you will have to play for quite a while to buy a valuable item here. For example, after about 10 hours of gameplay, you’ll be able to earn roughly 1,000 Credits. In the store, this can get you only one item – a 700 Credit spray.
Other items go from 1,500 to as much as 20,000 Credits. Therefore, it will take hours and hours of playing to afford something valuable from the shop.
This is a classic offer. It brings six different-sized packs with different price points.
You can choose to spend anywhere from $0.99 to $99.99. The higher the price, the higher the value.
The top seller among them is a mid-sized offer at $9.99. This tells us that most of Call of Duty: Mobile payers are neither whales nor small spenders, but somewhere in the middle.
How In-App Purchases Really Work in Call of Duty: Mobile
Now that we’ve got the basics covered, let me take you through my gameplay experience.
More precisely – how different IAPs appeared as I played the game for 7 days.
Note: I mostly played multiplayer mode.
After finishing my first battle, I was quickly introduced to the game’s first monetization feature – the Battle Pass.
Introducing the Battle Pass early is a pretty bold move. Most of the games I played in the past introduce this feature in the later stages. However, this is great because players won’t get accustomed to playing without it in the early stages.
Besides a free one, there are two paid options:
- Premium Battle Pass that costs 560 COD Points (approx. $6)
- Battle Pass Bundle discounted at 1,280 COD Points (approx. $12)
The Battle Pass season lasts for 6 weeks. The bundle is mostly about cosmetics, while the premium battle pass is more about helping players progress.
After you finish battles, the game guides you to claim battle pass rewards. This is great for constantly reminding players that the paid Battle Pass could get them even more rewards.
Then, something caught my eye on the home screen. Right above the store icon, there were two special offers.
One was the game’s Starter Pack at $6.99. It offered COD points, a character, and more. It was valid for a week, and obviously, targeted at beginners eager to equip themselves. The price point was on the higher end for a starter pack. From what I’ve seen in other games, they usually go up to $5.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the other special offer was much cheaper.
The other was a Limited time offer at only $0.99. It offered COD Points and a crate; it was valid for only 3 days. This offer’s main traits were its low price and a sense of urgency.
Later, after I completed a battle, I got my first pop-up offer – The Urbanite Draw. This is another game’s luck-based feature. When you purchase a draw, you will get an item from the prize pool. The chances of winning the highlighted item are only 0.08%, though…
After reaching level 9, I got my first big in-game reward – 500 Credits.
However, at this point, I didn’t have enough credits to afford anything from the credit store.
On this day, the pop-ups that appear after battles became a bit more aggressive. This time, it wasn’t one but two.
These offers come with attractive visuals that feature potential crate/draw rewards.
The first one was the one that appeared earlier, and the second one was new. Here, you can see that this offer highlights Charly – Angel of Death. However, the odds of actually getting a Charly are pretty slim – 0.30%.
The players who don’t study the odds may be in for a serious disappointment.
When I logged in on the fifth day, I got three IAP pop-ups. The first two were the ones that appeared earlier, and the third one was a new one.
The newest offer in the mix was the Widowmaker Bundle. This one is pretty pricey – it costs 2,400 CP ($25).
On the same day, the game sent me a first push notification with an IAP offer. It was here to remind me of an IAP offer that I was previously offered, the Charly – Angel of Death crate.
Now, I did previously click the offer to check it out, so I was potentially segmented as a potential buyer because of that.
On this day, I got another IAP push notification. This time, it was about the Widowmaker Bundle.
As soon as I logged in, there were three pop-ups with in-app purchases.
The only new one was about New Vehicle Camos (a new crate offer). Even though I didn’t check it out, the same offer came as a push notification later in the day.
Here you can see all three push notifications I received from the game during seven days of playing.
As you can see, after about 10 hours of gameplay, the game’s monetization efforts get much more aggressive. This is the point where the whale hunt begins.
Call of Duty In-App Ads
Only a small percentage of players will actually become payers. What about the majority then?
Call of Duty: Mobile made sure to try and monetize them as well. For this reason, it carefully integrated in-app ads into the monetization mix.
Which Ad Format Is Used in Call of Duty Mobile?
Call of Duty: Mobile uses only one ad format – rewarded video ads.
This is what I call a safe choice.
Players actually tend to like this ad format and think of it as least disruptive. Not only that, but it can even boost in-app purchases. Up to 6x, according to ironSource!
How Frequently Ads Appear?
This game NEVER throws ads at players.
Instead, they exist as a small “watch” icon on top of the home screen with a sign “free”. Entering it is a completely opt-in decision.
Clicking the sign leads you to a lucky board. After you watch an ad, you earn a coupon to draw from it. The board includes all sorts of different items – from lucky coins to rifles and camos.
Then, you gamble your coupons away.
In most cases, you will get lucky coins. You can then exchange them in a special store. However, most items there require more coins. Hence – keep drawing.
Another thing that motivates you to keep watching ads is a bar that tracks the number of draws you made. For milestones such as 10, 30, etc., you earn extra rewards.
As you can see, the ads segment is carefully worked out. Not only does it feature the ever-exciting game of luck, but it also motivates you to spend a lot of time here. At the same time, it is completely unobtrusive.
User Retention in Call of Duty: Mobile
Retaining players is a crucial step towards making money off of them.
Call of Duty: Mobile is doing an amazing job here.
After the first day, the game retains a lot of players – 54% of them. After a week, 30% are still playing. With these numbers, the game beats the averages for the top 2% of action games. These games “only” get to keep 46% after day one, and 17% after day 7 (Benchmarks+ platform).
One of the key day one retention strategies in Call of Duty: Mobile is providing a positive onboarding experience. As soon as I started playing, I became an MVP and had in-game great success.
No, I’m not that good.
The thing is, the game features a lot of bots in the early game. If players lost their first battles against experienced players they would feel discouraged and would likely churn.
This is just one of the many factors that drive this game’s user retention. Here are some other, equally important ones:
- Push notifications (only with IAP offers)
- Different events
- Repeatable core gameplay
- No session limitations
- Different gameplay modes
Call of Duty Mobile Monetization Summary
The best thing about Call of Duty Mobile monetization is the hybrid model itself.
The game offers a variety of offers: bundles, limited-time offers, cosmetics, rewarded video ads, gachas, a subscription, etc.
There is something for everyone – from non-spenders to whales and gamblers.
The Best Deal of the Game
I bet you can guess this one without much thinking.
It’s the first offer you get to see in the game, and the one you see most frequently. Of course, I’m talking about the premium Battle Pass subscription.
Just by playing and upgrading tier levels, players receive a variety of rewards: soft and hard currency, weapons, skins, etc. Over six weeks’ time, active players can really feel the value of their $6 purchase.
The value of all of these rewards can be compared to buying several bundles from the store. Yes, you may not need them all, but the value for money is undeniable.
What Could Be Done Better?
No, I won’t comment on the game’s loot boxes. By now, everyone knows how they work, and this concept will always be more or less controversial.
I would like to say a couple of things about the game’s cosmetics offer.
In the store’s Camos section, there is not a lot of diversity. Most of the items there are usable in the Battle Royale mode only (e.g., parachute skins, vehicle skins).
What about multiplayer mode players? I’m sure there are a lot of players that only play one mode. There is no doubt that some of them would like more cosmetics choices without buying a whole bundle of items.
On the other hand, mode-specific skins appear in bundles and crates as well. This very fact limits the potential audience for a specific bundle or crate.
Either way, the game could expand the Camos offer with more items for players of different modes.
Can You Play Call of Duty: Mobile for Free?
From what I’ve seen, this game doesn’t feel like pay-to-play at all.
None of the microtransactions are major progression boosters. Most of them are cosmetic and others only bring minor perks that don’t significantly change the gameplay balance.
Wrapping up on Call of Duty Mobile Monetization
That’s it, you’ve made it to the end of our Call of Duty Mobile monetization analysis.
If you liked it, make sure to check out some of our other mobile game dissections!