Well it sure isn't fun getting excited for nothing. Just yesterday we brought you news that we had received a Modern Warfare 3 care package from Activision teasing a major announcement. Whatever the announcement was supposed to be, the appearance of one of the series' villains and an online countdown led us to believe that it had something to do with a Call of Duty title.
Today, the publisher has come out and denied any connection to either the dog tags or the website FindMakarov.com counting down to... something. There goes our hope for new Call of Duty details in time for GDC. As it turns out, GameSlice's Geoff Keighley confirmed that the site is owned by Toronto-based group We Can Pretend (as we guessed from the package address info we received). The site is advertising the launch of their newest project based on Call of Duty, not a sequel.
It might be enough to simply report that with this latest information, it appears we read too much into a simple website. But this latest ordeal just accentuates the questions we've been asking for some time. When is Modern Warfare 3 coming? Who will be making it? Will the story continue, or will the developers choose to release a prequel starring Ghost?
Since the Activision/Infinity Ward fallout that saw Modern Warfare creators Jason West and Vince Zampella leave the studio to form Respawn Entertainment, there has been little to no details on what would happen to their brainchild.
With rumors already circling the Call of Duty name, Activision chose to put an end to the FindMakarov.com speculation before it got out of hand. The fact that they wasted no time in putting any discussion of MW3 to an end may be a damning implication for the project, but their statements to IGN at least put this issue to bed:
"There seems to be a great deal of speculation about the next Call of Duty project. Let me be clear that we are not revealing yet. Anything indicating otherwise is a hoax."
We wouldn't put it past many in the industry to gain some publicity for themselves at the expense of Activision, with Epic Games the last to take aim at their title franchise with their parody shooter Duty Calls.
We've confirmed that the website is the creation of We Can Pretend, a Canadian "creative collective" that is planning on unveiling a project inspired by Activision's shooter on March 2. Details on what the project will entail are still scarce, but those working on the project call it "visually spectacular."
So for those hoping for a brand new major title to be revealed, we're sorry to disappoint. But that's not really the most striking aspect of the hoax.
Initial reports, like that of ThatVideoGameBlog, who also received the same package as us, had merely assumed the dog tags they received were from the publisher. The clock has been ticking for quite some time, and Activision has made a habit of reminding the gaming indutry that Infinity Ward and Treyarch are already meeting the standards set by West and Zampella.
The plethora of studios who are apparently 'working on' future Call of Duty titles - Raven Software, Sledgehammer Games, Infinity Ward, Beachhead Studios, Treyarch - are obviously working on something, but are we to assume that there is really nothing to reveal at this point? Not even an announcement trailer?
Activision is saying just that, which boggles the mind. Gamers don't want to hear about possible futuristic CoD titles, they want to know that the franchise that once defined first-person shooters is in good hands. Treyarch may have proved that they can be just as successful as the Infinity Ward that once was, but actually branding a game Modern Warfare 3 will make the comparison a concrete one.
We can't blame Activision for not jumping at that prospect, but something has to be done soon if the brand wants to stay relevant in a genre that is quickly becoming crowded. Their competition is already accusing them of "treading water," and if they want to stay above such criticism, now is not the time to abandon creativity and innovation.
E3 is getting closer and closer by the day, and as much as Activision may take solace in their monstrous revenues and industry-leading position, if this year's expo fails to feature a major CoD title then we can expect the doubting whispers to soon become shouts.
Not that Modern Warfare 3 can't turn out to be a fantastic game, but each week that passes without an announcement is adding to the suspicion that the publisher is scrambling. Maybe that's why we were so eager to trust that they had a plan, and details to reveal in the next few days. If that isn't the case, then the future of Modern Warfare will once again return to limbo.
So for now we'll have to return to patiently awaiting any Modern Warfare 3 announcement, if and when Activision chooses to give it.