There was a time when Call of Duty was a much loved franchise that rejuvenated the first-person console experience, offering a bleak military shooter about the post-9/11 era. That was six years ago when Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare hit, helping change the landscape of the shooter genre, pushing it out of WWII era.
Since then, the title now occupies an interesting space within the market. Despite declining sales with the last iteration, the Call of Duty games have sold tens of millions of copies on an annual basis. Although on the contrary, it is also one that is hotly debated in the gaming community. That trend is going to tried once again this November with the release of Call of Duty: Ghosts.
One of the most often cited criticisms of the game is that it’s a title that refuses to change and innovate on its gameplay dynamics. There is a very specific reason for that, Infinity Ward‘s executive producer Mark Ruben told OXM and it has much to do with eSports. Ruben claims that Infinity Ward has become a victim of its own success and that if the developer went around changing the rules, it would ruin the series for the ever-growing number of competitive gamers. Activision hosts eSports tournaments frequently with big money prizes and Call of Duty: Ghosts is set to become a huge game in the circuit for pro gamers as well.
“So we can’t change too many of the core rules, and the core rules are really simple…You’re a player, it’s in first-person, you have a weapon in your hand and you run around shooting other people.”
Ruben was quick to point out that not everything about Call of Duty: Ghosts was left unchanged though. While the core “rules” must stay the same, it doesn’t stop Infinity Ward’s ability to play with the “outside” experience, like open levels, meta Clan Wars and the new Squads mode.
“We can play a lot with the outside of how that works, and it’s things like character customisation, making the movement through that world better, making the world itself more interesting, adding the new modes, adding the new dynamic maps.”
The Call of Duty franchise is still the most consistent performer, in terms of sales, on a yearly basis in the games industry. It’s an experience many consumers are always willing to buy into, despite a loud opposition against the series on many internet forums. Clearly the rudimentary system of the franchise is popular with a certain (and large) set of gamers. Activision just has to be careful with their dedication not to change as they have a pretty determined competitor snipping at their heals.
Is it enough to just refine gameplay year in and year out or will the franchise need a major face lift sooner rather than later?
Call of Duty: Ghosts releases November 5, 2013 for the PC, PS3, Wii U, and Xbox 360. The PS4 version will follow on November 15 and the Xbox One version on November 22.
Source: Official Xbox Magazine