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Activision surprises gamers with Call of Duty for iOS

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Call of Duty: Strike Team (Credit: Activision)

When you're dealing with a multibillion dollar franchise, new releases tend to be well-telegraphed affairs.

Activision, though, surprised everyone Thursday by releasing an iOS version of Call of Duty without pomp or circumstance. And, in another surprise, it's being made by a team led by a pair of Rockstar Games veterans.

Call of Duty: Strike Team was built entirely with the mobile audience in mind, complete with a vague, futuristic plot (in 2020, the U.S. finds itself at war with an "unknown enemy.") Playable in either a first- or third-person perspective, gamers will control squads of up to five characters. Though currently an iTunes exclusive, the $6.99 game is expected to hit Android devices later this fall.

Strike Team is the first game from The Blast Furnace, Activision's mobile development studio headed by Mark Washbrook, from Rockstar London, and Rockstar Leeds' Gordon Hall.

While the multiplayer component that has made the console game so successful is missing, the single-player is classic, cinematic CoD. There's also a leaderboard-based Survival Mode, pitting you against endless waves of increasingly difficult enemies.

Strike Team represents Activision's biggest splash in the mobile waters to date. While the company has released a couple of Skylanders apps over the past few years, it has not shown great interest in the mobile market as a whole.

"While we're going to continue to look at it, and we think that over the long term there'll be opportunities, right now we just don't see anything that would suggest that changing the way we approach investing against mobile would be a good idea," CEO Bobby Kotick told financial analysts four months ago.

If you've got an older iPhone or iPad, though, you're not going to be happy. Strike Force requires iOS 6.0 and an iPhone 4S/iPad 2 or newer.

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