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Nicki Minaj is now a playable character in Call of Duty – but should we expect any less from Activision?

Industry Commentary

Nicki Minaj is now a playable character in Call of Duty. Yes, you read that correctly. The Barbz have entered the battlefield, meaning you can now gun down other players or roundhouse kick them, if you prefer, as one of the biggest rap sensations in the world. She even has her own weapon blueprints, vehicle skin and loading screen, meaning you can drive around the Warzone map in your very own ‘Nicki Whip’, all for just 2400 COD points (roughly $20). 

Of course, we should expect nothing less from Activision. Anything you can license, COD can license better. COD can license anything, better than you. Minaj makes her arrival alongside Snoop Dogg and 21 Savage as part of this year’s 50th anniversary of hip-hop, but Activision’s first-person-shooter has a long history of licensed collaborations and partnerships, as do its other titles. 

If you thought Fortnite was the reigning champion of licensing IP into its battle royale universe to draw in new players, just take a look at some of the major licenses from the world of TV, film and music that have found a home in Call of Duty. Some of the most iconic crossovers in the Call of Duty universe include Attack on Titan, Die Hard, Scream’s Ghostface, Rambo, and even The Terminator. 

Activision has over 40 years experience integrating IP into its video games, or developing and publishing games based on IP. Ghostbusters, released on the Atari and ZX Spectrum in 1985, was one of the first licensed games it worked on, which was swiftly followed up by games based on the Predator, Rampage, Die Hard and Thunderbirds licenses. The success of these titles led to Activision seeking wider opportunities in the publishing space, as it worked to bring licensed titles such as Pop Eye over to Europe.

While many know Activision for its Call of Duty games, one of its biggest accomplishments in the licensing space is grabbing the video game license from professional skateboarder, Tony Hawk. The Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series generated around $1.4 billion in revenue since the release of the first game back in 1999, all while setting a new gold standard for skateboarding and sports games. 

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was an overnight hit at launch, but even then, it didn’t stop Activision from using its tried and tested method of IP licensing to generate new sales for the series. Over the years, Spider-Man, Darth Maul and even Shrek found their way into the games as unlockable characters. 

As we prepare to dive back into Warzone to check out the latest batch of operators – which have been met with an overwhelmingly positive response from the COD fan base – we can’t wait to see what Activision has lined up for the future. 


Read the episode transcript here

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