Answering the Call of Duty

And I'm super duper excited because I'm Actually going to moderate this one it's One of my favorite games Call of Duty do You any Call of Duty players in here Just okay I've beat both of you Uh at some point yeah okay so please Welcome our guest who is the general Manager of Call of Duty for Activision Blizzard Johanna fairies [Music] How are you nice thanks Okay I saw hands go up we have some cod Players in the house yeah so hands went Up do you think you've beat them Definitely not Casual player my favorite casual Cod Player okay that's where we differ but We're gonna exchange gamertags I think Yes yeah yeah you're like never I'm Never hanging out with you again Um we're a week away from the new game I you've you and I have both talked About like being in listening mode yep And I'm just curious what does that Actually look like and what changes from The time that you don't have to tell me What but if anything does anything Change from the moment of trailer and Beta To next week tremendous amount changes I Mean that's the whole point of a beta Right and we talk about that a lot we Have to be sincere if we're going to put The beta out there we need to be ready

To be in hyper listening mode I talk About hyper listening a ton especially Sgm Um just the body language around let's Be receptive to what people are loving Let's be receptive to what people maybe Are not loving but it's been going on Almost two years now of really thinking About how do we partner with the Community and not just say hey this is It let's Let it Fly and if you like it Great and if you don't too bad it's it's Been the complete inverse in many ways So I think our community especially for Those who were participating in the beta And we're super proud of how many Millions of people were pouring into That and then giving us their feedback Across Channel I think they're going to Be pleased from tweaks from hey they Really listened here and we had an Incredible event with 200 plus of the Biggest streamers and influencers in all Of gaming live with us in La prior to The beta they had a lot of feedback for Us we had great conversations with them And I know that our studios are taking It to heart yeah I think that's really Great I think it Has to be difficult though because like You said you've been building the game For two years and the beta was last Month right so like What is that like for the team to be

Back there making those tweaks on Something that is basically baked you Know yeah to an extent you know you're Rounding third at that point but there's Still always going to be opportunities To tweak here or there and even post Launch I think that Segway is into you Know how much gaming is an industry but Even Call of Duty as a platform has Changed we are a live operation 24 7 365 Now and in many ways where we start Isn't necessarily where the live Seasons Ends or even the chapter of Seasons ends And so we're always going to be thinking About okay what else do we do how do we Make a pivot what do they what do we Chase you know if there's something That's really going to pop off the Screen and so you know there's just There's new innovation and I think Modern Warfare 2 in particular is Bringing as first Everest to the Franchise that we're really excited About war zone 2.0 on the heels of that Full reset for our war zone Community Coming in November right so it's just a Huge fall for us and we're going to be Ready to to pour gasoline on the things That were work and make the tweaks that We need on the things that don't work Yeah I mean you said 24 7 365. it's I For those in the audience that don't Understand that it's actually much Bigger than that right because you have

Call of Duty mobile you have war zone You have Modern Warfare 2 coming out Vanguard current and what like Two or three more titles from the past That are still being supported yep and Then you have Xbox PlayStation PC Mobile Yeah you have competitive players you Have casual players you have Pro players And streamers Who wins right like you can't everyone Wants something different everyone cares About something different first what Generates the most revenue and what Takes up the most resources It's such a great frame uh you've given Me a little bit of a softball there Because we are now just this Entertainment platform that has to make Very uh specific choices about what Content do we put out how do we manage a Calendar of that scope and size Our Call of Duty mobile Community is Lighting up in regions of the world that We weren't really dominant in or present In or growing in or trying to grow Frankly but to your point you know I Know you play a lot of Vanguard I know You watch a lot of CDL there's also Times where we have to think about you Know where we not hit the mark as big as We wanted to or how do we launch a new Sports league in the name of Call of Duty that's super emerging and we have a Lot of pivots that we have to make very

Quickly almost like a startup within a Broader uh franchise that's been Established for almost two decades and So you know I think that's both the Blessing of working on a brand and a Franchise of this scope and stature is That there's never a dull moment there's Always something new that we can be Pushing on the edges of Modern Warfare 2 In many ways we've said sort of opens The door to this entirely new way of Engaging with Call of Duty a new Step Change Innovation for the medium at the Same time we're going to continue to Learn we don't always get it right and So we have to just continue to think About your point where we want to be Three years from now where do we want to Be five years from now there's so much More we can still be doing So we we try and think more like Learners even though we have two decades Under our belt because uh we're growing In many different ways and dimensions And so how much does the yearly release Schedule Play into that mindset that you're Talking about right because it feels Like if you're launching something new Every year and you do feel pulled in a Lot of different directions pivoting Constantly that could be exciting it Can't always be sustainable and it Doesn't necessarily set you up for

Regular success it sets up sets you up For That like learning that you have to do Right so is that something that we're Forever gonna see out of Call of Duty And how do you think about that and the Framework of where do we put our Resources yeah the yearly annual release That's coming here in just a few days is Bread and butter Call of Duty as we Often say it's really been the Hallmark Of the franchise to be able to pump out This Blockbuster form of of interactive Entertainment year in and year out at The same time we have shifted as a Business model our consumer expectations Have changed the marketplace has never Been bigger for how our competitors are Raising the bar as well so it can't just Be a Reliance on you know this premium Content uh even though it is in many Ways an unbelievable experience what we Do in the weeks thereafter what we do With the remaining war zone Seasons Coming on the heels of that what we do For a free-to-play player might be Really different than a CDL venue goer And it might be very different again From a Call of Duty mobile experience it Was really cool for example to not only Talk about on the eve of Modern Warfare 2's beta last month how much fans should Be excited about the the yearly release Upcoming but also to talk about Warzone

Coming to mobile I mean in terms of a Growth strategy there's nothing bigger In terms of the growth of Mobile in Gaming especially in the west Warzone Was a step change funnel driver for us In many ways three years ago and here we Go again thinking about how do we merge The best BR experience you could Possibly have with the biggest growth Vector in gaming under the banner of Call of Duty so it's very exciting to See what happens in the coming months With just mobile alone yeah Oh I don't want your job Um I appreciate you mentioning my softball I want credit for it because I want to Ask about Um you know speaking of the yearly Release schedule the idea of crunch time In gaming I think we're all really Familiar with and um Raven software the QA Department obviously tried to Unionize it was one of the first Successful unions in gaming I think and I'm just wondering if you feel like That's a wave of something to come Industry-wide I certainly can't speak with any Confidence to predicting the future yeah I can say you know this is a reflection On the need for continued dialogue and Being open to feedback it's about Striving to create the best possible

Workplace experiences that you can for Every single person who is a part of That workplace experience right and so I think this will be an ongoing dialogue As it should be and I know that you know We have great systems in place and we Always have the opportunity to make them Even better and they only get better With that feedback loop with that Dialogue in partnership with everybody Who makes up the organization yeah and I Mean I think also you coming in kind of With fresher eyes you were in charge of The cwl and Owl right and now you're the Head of all of Call of Duty I can give Some feedback as someone who's played Since Black Ops 3. I've made some of my Closest friends playing Call of Duty I've also had some of the worst and most Toxic experiences of my life playing Call of Duty Um and When I go to report I can't even report Some of the voice chat stuff and I think That has been a real struggle for me and I'm just wondering as you come in and You think about the community that's There we've got a lot of young guys We've got a lot of kind of Testosterone in that Community Um where do you want to take it and what Are you going to do with that I'm Actually really glad you're raising it Because this is also part of always

Being in feedback listening learning Where can we continually improve mode I Can relate professionally to what you've Just said I can relate personally to What you've just said as a player And it's something that's near and dear To my heart and I know it's near and Dear to many people's heart on behalf of The franchise I'm I'm happy to say Especially since you know the time that I've I've been in the in the chair we've Really raised the bar in terms of paying Attention to what is an anti-tax Strategy need to look like What does Um creating fair play environments safe Play environments look like we just Released for example and it started in The beta a first ever franchise-wide Code of conduct which I know they sound Like table stakes and in many ways Probably is yeah but it's here now and We have a full operation focused 24 7 Just on anti-toxicity and how do we Layer in machine learning tools how do We layer in human Mechanisms to make sure that we're Monitoring for the ability for you to Better report for the ability for us to Reward good behavior not just you know Penalize bad behavior and and do it in a Timely way So there's more to come on this but I Was really proud to see in addition to

Ricochet and a lot of our anti-cheat Anti-hacking initiatives that we've We've rolled out as well which go hand In hand with the with the experience for Players Our anti-toxicity focus is one that is a Mass tag going to this upcoming launch And for years to come and we're putting The best systems in place to make sure That players have the tools but also Have again the incentives to continue to Raise the bar of what it means to play Fair to play with respect for everyone To play with Integrity yeah because it Does feel like there are a lot of people I've noticed a change I've noticed a Change whether it's the community Growing up or it's Society kind of be More Um Sensitive to things and thinking them Through first So I have noticed some of those changes I wanted to ask for on behalf of the Audience though because you mentioned Machine learning like How interested are you in startups who Can do natural language processing and Maybe weed some of that stuff out or do Something around matchmaking right you Guys are experts at making games and Obviously you have other skill sets for Making other stuff but for the Peripheral stuff we have a bunch of

Geniuses out here who would probably Love to have a conversation with you About it is that something it's fair Game right Activision Blizzard's a tech Company at the end of the day right and Gaming is technology writ large I think It's always at the Forefront of our Minds not just for Call of Duty but for The entire portfolio to think about Who's at the Forefront where else can we Leverage new tech new thinking new tools And systems to just either Optimize what we already have or create New white space that we haven't you know Pursued yet so I mean that's personally What has been the highlights of joining The company in the last four years that I've been here is that there's never an Idea too small there's never a tool That's you know lacking in relevance We're gonna we're gonna study up and Think about you know where where the Next uh Echelon of of better comes from So it's it's awesome to be here and I Think we're always open to that well I Think a lot of folks in the audience Would argue that web3 might be one of Those tools right obviously gaming is a Huge kind of on-ramp to blockchain Enabled Technologies crypto nfts Etc Kind of the list goes on What I know you're not going to tell me Your web 3 strategy Um but I'm just curious how you guys are

Thinking about it at all it goes to the Prior answer right I I don't have much To share today uh unfortunately but it's Always something that we're going to Keep a pulse on and everybody's trying To figure out their strategies and these These new Ventures so we're playing Paying close attention right now Candidly I'm 150 percent focused on Launching Call of Duty in a week and Yeah in just a few days people who have Modern Warfare 2 are going to get into Campaign really early so in many ways This feels like part of launch week Right as we open the doors to campaign In a couple of days and and then we've Got Warzone upcoming so it's we are we Have plenty to focus on there Um but you know we're always going to be Setting up is it okay last one on web3 Then because is it fair to say that Most gaming companies would not be Incentivized to do anything with web3 Because it would decentralize what is Their proprietary technology which is What they make money on I get I can Understand the theory like I said not For me to opine because I'm really Focused is so good at the on my IP but I Thought it's true but like I said a lot Of my colleagues Um you know are thinking about it and One thing I I give Activision a lot of Credit for is our rigor right I mean

Really thoughtful about what's out there What are the trends who's doing what Um and where do we fit into that Equation so it's not for lack of Discussion but right now it's pump out The best game IP and player experience As you can because that is our bread and Butter and we have so much coming that We're really excited about yeah so we've Talked a little bit about the culture of The community I have to ask five days Ago there was news about another sexual Harassment lawsuit and with fresh eyes At the company How do you describe the culture Well I can only speak from my own Personal experience right Um and like I said this is a culture in Many ways where I feel we are always Better off when there's dialogue and When there's a thought partnership Across every aspect of the company It's been you know I came from the world Of traditional Sports yeah in the NFL And everything about it in many ways was This huge jump out of the nest Into the unknown in you as I always Loved Call of Duty I always loved gaming That wasn't new to me but a new Infrastructure a new culture but it's a Culture that I've experienced again Personally to be extremely collaborative Extremely entrepreneurial extremely Um humble in many ways about okay how do

We continue to get better right and I Think the last several years in Particular have put a spotlight on that Desire I think collectively to just say What's good is good how do we make it Better and best and we certainly want to Represent the best possible place for People to work So what do you want maybe it's premature To ask this question but for yourself as Cod GM New Era new game yeah what do you Want to be like kind of the superlative Of Johanna and your impact on the game What is the Legacy It's such an interesting question Um only a handful of people actually Asked me that before I try not to think Too much about Legacy I really am a very In the present moment type of person and Leader I often have said and I think my Colleagues hopefully and my team would Attest to it I'm really focused on Creating the highest performing teams Globally in the entire industry and if We are that if we embody that especially When no one's looking in fact right you Just bring it consistently Uh as we show up as people as we show up As people who are subject matter experts As we think about you know what is Best In Class really look like and the Tenacity that people bring to that and The collaboration again support for one

Another then the results will follow and I would love for us to look back Especially on this moment that we have With Modern Warfare 2 and like I said a Completely new era in many ways for Call Of Duty looking ahead to say wow we took What was already such an incredible Platform and we opened the floodgates to New Growth we weren't even expecting Again and we did it because we were an Incredibly high functioning High Performing very supportive team so I Really hope that that's the Legacy to be Honest to have an impact but to really As I often say disappear into other People's great work yeah I mean that does seem to be the call Sign of great leaders Um can we talk a bit about Microsoft and I know that that's all pending my real Question has to do with Call of Duty Activision has always had a Very special relationship with Sony in The PlayStation Um Microsoft isn't Sony so What does that mean for the that Relationship Look I think uh it's it's my duty and my Responsibility and also I'll tell you my Reality to say the public statements are Out there and I defer to them because as Much as you think I'm sort of making That statement up I'm not I am so Focused right now on the next few hours

Of Call of Duty right after I get off The stage there'll be more to focus on For for launching a Modern Warfare 2 and More Um so I really do you know kind of feel In many ways our team on the Call of Duty side in particular we're excited We're excited about what we're building We're excited about what Activision Blizzard has already built it's amazing To be Um considered as as we are as far as the Strength of our IP and the portfolio But it's kind of refreshing to be heads Down on launching great IP right yeah And and let the chips fall as they may But great Partners across the board Great platforms and like I said from Console to PC to mobile right and then To what's next it's our responsibility To make sure we're showing up for the Player and we're listening to that Player we're moving with the players Expectations if we do that everything Else will fall into place So as a player I'm so obsessed with the CDL and I know you come from the we Appreci Sports yeah you know here I am Ghost comp Um you come from NFL and then Esports And now GM so how How much of a priority is not Necessarily viewership of the CDL or the CDL making the game what they want it to

Be but the growth stream that they Provide right yeah it's um obviously Near and dear to my heart it's the whole Reason I joined the company to begin With I think as we talked about Backstage this is about how do you Balance the need for consistency these Are the most elite players in their Craft and a lot of times if you ran the Numbers you know the odds of being scump Compared to the odds of being even LeBron James when you think about the Size of the community that he has to be Better than right astonishing right so The rate of Excellence that these Players have as Pros is bananas so it is Incumbent that we as a franchise support Their Elite play and we provide a Consistent way in which year after year Season after season they sort of Understand how they can continue to to Manifest that at the same time uh back To your point on growth I think it's Been such a fascinating ride even in the First three seasons to think about how Do we create new brands that weren't on The map before we launched the CDL right And how do we think about competitive Balance and parity which is so important That we make sure that every one of our 12 franchises has a right to win that Any given moment if you tune into a Major it may or may not be who you think It's going to be at the end of the day

And we saw that in season three and I Expect more of that parody coming Through in future Seasons we just Announced for example as well that the Start of this upcoming season is going To be closer to Modern Warfare 2's Launch than it's ever been historically This is good news great this is about Right like taking the feedback and Really doing what we think is going to Be great not only for the players but Also for the viewer and the fan who's Hungry to get in and hungry to start to See how these uh these teams uh rock With the new IP so Um I am a I'm as bullish as ever because It's my baby in many ways but look I Wouldn't have left the end NFL if I Didn't think that you know Esports writ Large isn't primed for for huge growth Over the next several years and decades And I think the Call of Duty league is Is well positioned yeah and I think it's Interesting too because it seems to me Like a lot of the pro organizations are Investing a lot of resources and not Just how much they can win but like We're talking about 17 18 19 year old Guys I mean there are a couple oldies we Got skunk but like for the most part They're young guys who are role models And giving them opportunities to grow And mature to be great role models I Wonder if I think that that's been

Really really fun to watch We've got just a couple minutes left I Want to talk about your favorite things From the new game okay your favorite new Features and I need you to give me your Least favorite new feature oh geez Infinity Ward would not be happy with it I know one you got to give them feedback They're in hyper listening mode Well I'm very excited for third person Yeah no you're a 3p I know you're not Happy I get it but for somebody as Casual as myself I tend to Camp I like Seeing my skins from third person I like Just I don't know it's just I'm Comfortable from that angle and I'm Really pleased to see that uh we're Giving players more options to play that Way Um I love the maps I think the matching I Think the maps are cool too they're Pretty colorful they're great Um My least favorite you gotta go with it What the answer is I gotta draw the Party line there and I'm stoked for Campaign I'm a single player girl too so I like the campaign what about you Red Dot I know I hear you are a lot of People who feel some conservation about The red dots if you're missing the Context in the audience For a billion years as long as it's been

Around basically when your opponent is Shooting at you there's a red dot on the Minimap so you know where they are And Johanna took my red box away I it Was not me Um I think you're going to be in for a Treat though oh okay I'm not gonna try To get overly emotionally attached to That Um thank you thank you that's really Really fun talking to you and the game Comes out you want to plug next week buy It now you can get in early as early as This week but uh next week October 28th We're super excited cool thank you thank You [Applause]


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