Activision is shutting down the original Call of Duty: Warzone after only 3 years

warzone soldier carrying a gun
(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

Activision is pulling the plug on the original version of its free-to-play battle royale, Call of Duty: Warzone. Warzone Caldera, which was renamed last year, will shut down on September 21, 2023 so that Activision can "focus on future Call of Duty content including the current Warzone free-to-play experience."

The original Warzone stopped receiving updates last year after it was supplanted by its official sequel, Warzone 2. Activision maintained that the old Warzone, with its distinctive maps, weapons, and years worth of premium cosmetics purchased by millions, would live on in Warzone Caldera. That last note is a particular pain point—Warzone 2.0 pressed the reset button on players' progress, introducing new weapon and character skins and leaving the old ones behind. 

Warzone has always been somewhat interlaced with the mainline CoD installments, and the official blog notes that "purchased content in Warzone Caldera" will continue to be accessible in Call of Duties Modern Warfare '19, Black Ops: Cold War, and Vanguard, but that's a cold comfort when the majority of Warzone players bought all their tacticool bits and bobs to use specifically in Warzone.

The announcement of its imminent shutdown is all the more surprising given that the game is only three years old. We might have low standards given how live service ambitions keep killing moderately successful games in record time, but we're not talking about Rumbleverse or Knockout City here—Warzone was one of the biggest multiplayer games on the planet for those three years it was live, and now it'll effectively be gone forever. It's a similar situation to how Overwatch 2 booted the original game off our hard drives and into the Shadow Realm last fall.

OG Warzone was already put on life support when Activision Blizzard moved on to the sequel game: it was reduced to just one map and renamed "Warzone Caldera," a shadow of its former self, but it didn't have to be this way. As pointed out by CoD streamer Futives, you can still play the first Call of Duty battle royale mode, Blackout, which was released all the way back in 2018. Kotaku recently published a report on the dedicated fanbase that still supports the game. 

Moving beyond Call of Duty, its tactical shooter nemesis Counter-Strike offers a pretty damning counter-example of multiplayer continuity. While Counter-Strike 2 will replace the venerable Global Offensive, players' progression and cosmetics will be preserved. Meanwhile, Counter-Strikes 1.6, Source, and even odd-duck singleplayer entry Condition Zero are still perfectly playable, partly thanks to the fact that players and communities can stand up servers of their own.

As of Warzone 2.0's Season 4 update, Activision Blizzard has dropped the "2.0" from its name, just referring to it as plain old "Warzone." Warzone 1? Warzone Caldera? Never heard of it! All those frags (and premium real money skins) will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.

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