One of the interesting things about this game is the headquarters. I think moving forward as a player it might be difficult to go just a traditional lobby. Is this something you see as something for the franchise possibly moving forward, something similar to this?

It really depends on the response. It’s certainly something we feel the same way about; you look at it and say, “That could be a new franchise staple.” Certainly, if that becomes a daily habit, if that becomes a behavior that really catches on and the players really love, there’s obvious benefits. It’s much more satisfyingly social to be interacting with people in a 3-D environment than just over a voice and text environment. There’s a lot of fun mini-games, there’s a lot of fun engagement drivers, there’s a lot of rewards for coming back every day, so I think that it’s a very thoughtful and well thought-out design. And then you’ll see what happens when it gets in the hands of players, you know? It’s all theory until then. 

So it certainly is one of those that has the potential to transform the way the community interacts with one another. And I think it’s the right… A lot of the innovation debates are making sure that we’re aiming at the right bull’s eyes. Whether or not it succeeds or fails, it was the right problem to take a shot at solving because Call of Duty is a game that tons of people play together, and yet I would argue it’s not a tremendously social experience. Most of the time that you’re together, you’re actually playing, your hair’s on fire, and you’re moving a million miles an hour and your adrenaline’s pumping and so there’s not that sense of ability to really interact in that way we’ve come to be used to in other games. And in other platforms. In social media, and the whole world has become more comfortable socially through digital mediums. And I think it’s an area where Call of Duty can improve. 

So I love the shot that we’re taking and I’m really interested to see how it goes once it gets in the hands of our players. There’s every chance it’ll catch on and every chance they’ll be like, “The text thing was faster!” [laughs] We’ll see.

From our vantage point, I think that the outside world kind of sees it like, “Oh, it’s Call of Duty’s take on Destiny’s tower.” From your vantage point, was it that idea of, “Oh this is working well, let’s cross-pollinate this with the other studio’s idea?”

Well I certainly understand the comparison. I do think that it didn’t come from that observation, it did come from the conversation we were just having. Which means it came from the idea that this is a super social, sticky game where we don’t give people a place to interact. And the World War II setting felt like a really natural setting for a camp, a headquarters, an environment that we’ve seen in tons of movies and is correct historically where there was that sort of staging area that was vast. It came out of that conversation. But, of course we’ve seen success in Destiny, I’d argue in Destiny it’s so integral to the game design. It’s where you do everything. It’s sort of the first and last experience you have. 

So this is more of a retro-engineering into a game that already has a pretty well-established path and muscle memory for players. So I think in a weird way it’s harder to figure out if we can inject that into it. And the question is whether or not, like I said, different communities, they’re different. You gotta find the right solution for each one. You can’t just take one that works in one and apply it to another necessarily. Like I said, COD players might sort of be like, “I don’t want that. I want a match made faster.” [laughs] But, like I said I think that a lot of the creative process should be that the execution is secondary to making sure we’re answering the right questions. To make sure we’re aiming the arsenal at the right bullseye. And I do think it’s a great thing for us to attempt to do: to give the stickiness and the social community that has naturally sprung up around playing Call of Duty a place to breathe and live and be more interactive.

So to stroke your ego a little bit, Call of Duty’s a franchise that’s always been very successful at offering a tremendous amount of value. The campaign is always a top-notch single-player experience, you have multiplayer, and then a third mode. I’m wondering, is that something you guys are always planning on bundling that “Call of Duty experience” or do you ever consider breaking off zombies into more of a fuller experience, even though it’s very satisfying as it stands?

No, I think that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts when they’re bundled together for the following reasons. There’s a lot of crossover. It’s not like we have these three modes and then there’s just three types of players that break into three factions, and never cross over. There’s a tremendous amount of crossover between zombies and multiplayer. There’s a tremendous amount of crossover between single-player and zombies. Now, there’s variability in the next step: How successful we drive that omnivorous behavior. It’s really advantageous when we do. People who play more than one mode stick around a lot longer, we’ve noticed statistical. So that value proposition creates both a better experience for the consumer and it creates a player who sticks around longer in our community. For us, we think it’s a win-win when we get it right. I also think that it’s just a competitive advantage. 

I think that Call of Duty operates at a scale where we can afford to really invest once a year in these epic releases that take three years to make and an army to produce. Not everybody has that ability, and so I think that that value proposition is a huge part of what we think is fun about that game, is awesome about the game, and our fans expect from the game. The other thing, I was talking about making the experience better for people migrating from game to game, you’re also gonna see us do more experiments in terms of trying to unify the player who moves from mode to mode and trying to make that a richer experience. So I think the headquarters is a place where no matter what type of player you are – there’s gonna be a rewards path, there’s gonna be an interaction opportunity to meet other players, like you to meet up, to team up. So I think it’s something we can definitely get better at.

Are you able to speak to a little bit detail in like how you do plan to incentivize players to keep playing entry to entry? Is it something as simple as they get an extra supply crate if you notice a save game from last year’s version, or is it something more substantial?

I don’t want to jump the gun on any reveals. It’s just something that we think about and try to drive. Like I said, we’ve had different levels of results so it’s just the quality of the different modes. But in Black Ops III for example, we saw a kind of a high watermark of people trying all three modes, we saw a high watermark of people trying who were really committed to two modes, and as a result, it was one of the stickiest games we’ve ever made. Hence, us releasing new content two and a half years later.

If you’re keeping your eye on the industry, this year in particular, it seems like it’s tough to avoid PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds –

Yes, great game!

I’m just curious, do you think that battle royale genre can ever blend with the Call of Duty series in a satisfying way?

Maybe. It’s a fun way to play! I don’t know, I think Call of Duty has both invented new ways to play and been inspired by, and put its own take on things we’ve seen elsewhere, and put our own creative stamp on it – and we’ve done both successfully. That’s certainly one that I think has caught everybody’s imagination, not just ours. And I love the way no one had heard of it a month ago, or three months ago, and now we’ve all heard of it, we’re all playing it, and there’s no building wraps with the Battlegrounds logo on it, there’s no 60 second commercials on television, and yet we all know about it. This is sort of like, our connected visual world at its best – where something just based on quality goes viral of its own volition and that’s just cool and inspiring to see. And it’s fun! Like at the end of the day, the things that we’re all downloading, going like “Heheh, pretty cool.” Those are great.


How’s the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy doing for you guys?

It’s off to an incredible start, even bigger and better than we thought. This is a game that, first of all, I have a huge personal attachment to. I grew up playing it. Some of my fondest gaming memories are around Crash and my dad and I in my basement. There’s been a lot of energy on social media and like, “When are they gonna do this?” And it’s one of those where you never know. Is that like a vocal minority? Is that a tiny audience who’s just Crash crazy or is there a real audience here? And it’s very hard to find that out. I’m so glad we finally figured out a way to get it on the slate, to get a great team. 

To call it a remaster is really an understatement – it’s really a recreation, because the technology has come so far. It feels and looks and sounds like Crash, but we really had to recreate most of those elements from the ground up. So, I’m just thrilled that there are so many people who feel like we do and who appreciate the effort. It’s another one where – overwhelming amount of value: all three games, beautifully remastered, great price – it’s exciting.

 

We'll have more exclusive reveals, videos, and information on Call of Duty: WWII throughout the month, so be sure to check out the coverage hub.