The Call of Duty franchise sits atop the gaming world, breaking records left and right. Since the first Modern Warfare game released, the series has increasingly sold more and more units, breaking its own sales records each time. It has become a staple of hardcore gaming, and definitely one of the most played games to date. Of course, with all the fame and fortune, come the jealous enemies, but for all the efforts of other first-person shooters trying to dethrone the king, Call of Duty is still the undisputed heavyweight gaming champion in terms of success.
Those at Activision have come under fire for having become complacent in success, and not innovating the series enough. The question is largely at debate whether the next Call of Duty will change things up or even whether it needs to, but one thing is for sure: Activision cares deeply about the future of its biggest franchise.
Two internal memos were sent to employees concerning the temporary closure of the Guitar Hero franchise, the cancellation of True Crime: Hong Kong, and the future of Call of Duty. One of the memos, following a question and answer format, posed the question, “Isn’t Call of Duty today just like Guitar Hero was a few years back?” Activision CEO, Eric Hirschberg, responded with:
“This is a great question and one we have thought about a lot. But there are several key differences between the two franchises worth considering. Guitar Hero quickly reached incredible heights, but then began a steady decline. Call of Duty, on the other hand, has steadily grown every single year of its seven-year existence.”
He goes on to explain the differences between Guitar Hero and Call of Duty:
“Guitar Hero was a new genre which had incredible appeal, but which had not stood the test of time. Call of Duty exists in a genre–first person shooters–that has shown remarkable staying power and wide appeal over a period of decades. Plus, Call of Duty has inspired a massive, persistent, online community of players, making it perhaps the ‘stickiest’ game of all time.”
He makes a good point, as the FPS genre has only become more and more popular as time goes on. However, Hirschberg knows that they cannot become too comfortable with their success if they plan to keep it. He explains how Call of Duty will retain its power:
“If you really step back and dispassionately look at any measurement–sales, player engagement, hours of online play, performance of DLC–you can absolutely conclude that the potential for this franchise has never been greater. In order to achieve this potential, we need to focus: on making games that constantly raise the quality bar; on staying ahead of the innovation curve; on surrounding the brand with a suite of services and an online community that makes our fans never want to leave. Entertainment franchises with staying power are rare. But Call of Duty shows all of the signs of being able to be one of them. It’s up to us.”
He’s heard the opinions on how Call of Duty fails to be innovative, and he responds saying that they are innovative.
“Activision doesn’t always seem to get the credit it deserves in terms of innovation in my opinion, but there is no short supply of it, even in our narrower slate… when you look at this list of projects and the innovations embedded within them, it is a pipeline any company would kill for.”
The “list of projects” he mentions? These are things like Bungie‘s new franchise, of which almost nothing is known (although they have put out beta test invites), the “Beachhead” service designed augment Call of Duty’s online presence, a free-to-play, microtransaction-based Call of Duty designed for the Chinese market, Call of Duty extensions that “are more complex and have more potential on their own than most stand alone console games.”
While Activision has been mum on the details, we know there will be details on the next Call of Duty soon.
“Call of Duty is one of the biggest entertainment franchises in the world. We have assembled an unprecedented team of some of the finest development and business talent in the world to keep this game ahead of the curve.”
Black Ops proved that one doesn’t have to change something if it isn’t broken, and ended up outdoing any other game, while not changing very much at all. Hirschberg talks about staying ahead of the curve, so does that mean we can see some changes in the next game? They already took some fire for not only not bringing a new game engine to the table when compared to Battlefield 3, but for saying they don’t see the point. We don’t know, but we can be sure that Activision will be working hard to keep milking their cash cow, and keep it alive and on top for as long as they possibly can.
Source: Giant Bomb