“It’s a dream opportunity for my brand, for my name, to step up my career,” he says.
It’s been a busy year for reggaeton superstar Ozuna, who released a collaborative album with Anuel AA and earned a role in the Fast & Furious franchise’s ninth film F9. Now, the Puerto Rican artist is adding another milestone to his career: He’s officially the first artist to score a large-scale partnership with the Call of Duty mobile game.
Ozuna’s partnership with Call of Duty: Mobile includes an official skin (meaning an outfit for player avatars) and other in-game content, timed to the release of the game’s seventh season, “Elite of the Elite,” out Aug. 25. That day, he’s also releasing an original song, titled “A La Buena El Mejor,” to serve as the season’s official theme. While the first-person shooter game has collaborated with musicians in the past, it has never signed up an artist to a partnership this extensive.
“It’s a dream opportunity for my brand, for my name, to step up my career,” Ozuna tells Billboard. “I want to do something different for the culture.”
The collaboration gives Ozuna access to the vast audience of players on Call of Duty: Mobile, which launched in October 2019 and has since crossed 500 million worldwide downloads. Ozuna says that the game’s global reach is an exposure opportunity not just for his music, but for reggaeton and Latin music as a whole. “A La Buena El Mejor” (which translates to “To the Good, the Best”) is sung entirely in Spanish.
“My music culture goes up, reggaeton goes up,” thanks to the partnership, he says. “Call of Duty is an opportunity for my culture.”
Call of Duty: Mobile vice president of product and GM Matt Lewis adds that the partnership allows for the “cross-pollination” of fanbases, helping Ozuna’s fans discover the game just as much as it helps players discover Ozuna. The fact that Ozuna is already a frequent Call of Duty player sealed the deal.
“When we learned that Ozuna was a player, we thought this would be a great opportunity to celebrate that,” Lewis says. “[He] didn’t just want to give players the basics. He wanted to go deep with this collaboration and provide an experience for the players.”
As part of the collab, players can purchase a skin featuring Ozuna’s signature bear motif, along with other items. Those virtual items mean real revenue: Call of Duty: Mobile is on track to exceed $1 billion in consumer spending for the year, according to the latest earnings report from parent company Activision Blizzard. Ozuna will also promote the collab on social media and livestream his gameplay, alongside special guests, from his official YouTube channel on Sept. 2 and Sept. 3.
The music and gaming industries are increasingly on a collision course, providing new revenue and exposure opportunities for both sides. Earlier this month, Epic Games hit video game Fortnite held its latest music spectacle — an in-game virtual concert with Ariana Grande — and gaming platform Roblox has partnered with artists like Lil Nas X, Why Don’t We and KSI for virtual music events.
The Ozuna deal marks Call of Duty‘s first big step into that playing field, but Lewis says it certainly won’t be the last. “We know that our players love the music in the game, so we want to give them more of what they want,” he says, adding that in-game performances are something the company would “consider.”
Ozuna is just getting started with the gaming industry, too. The Call of Duty partnership follows a deal in April where Ozuna became a managing partner, content creator and investor for lifestyle gaming organization XSET.
“The gaming world is the next level,” he says. “For the new generation, that’s the new thing.” He teases that an in-game performance could be in the future.