The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 12
Year after year a new Call of Duty game
is released. Year after year, Activision makes millions off the title
during it's holiday release. Activision is for all intents and
purposes the "Call of Duty company." It is what they are known
for, it's what they put all their resources into, and it's what makes
them all of their money.
This years latest Call of Duty may be more appropriately named than you think
But one day it won't. When that fateful
day comes, it's going to have huge repercussions for the game
It's the only logical outcome, and one
only has to look at history to see the writing on the wall.
Let's go back a few years to 2006.
Guitar Hero II had just been released and shredding on plastic
guitars while pressing colored buttons was "the next big thing."
It was a blast - the ultimate party game to play with friends.
And Activision took notice. People
couldn't get enough of head banging and shredding with their friends.
So what did Activision do? Year after year, heck sometimes multiple
times a year for the next three, Guitar Hero and its various
expansions saturated the market, alternating developers so a new game
could be released annually.
Six main games, seven minor games, and
four expansion packs later, Guitar Hero is as good as dead.
It doesn't take a genius to see the
similarities here. While I believe Call of Duty has more potential
staying power than Guitar Hero ever did, its days are numbered. A
game that is essentially the same core gameplay over and over again
every year, with minor improvements and variations, cannot continue
to succeed. It is simply an inevitability. But I do think it will
happen sooner rather than later.
Anticipation for Call of Duty Ghosts
doesn't seem to be quite as high as games past. Black Ops II,
Activision boasted, topped pre-order records. At the same time,
review numbers for Call of Duty titles have continued to drop ever so
slightly since the multiplayer revolution that was Call of Duty 4:
Modern Warefare, sitting atop a mighty 94 for Xbox 360 on Metacritic.
Modern Warfare 2 for Xbox 360 owns a 92. Black Ops gets an 87. Modern
Warfare 3 an 88. Black Ops 2 sits on a 83.
They are all enjoyable games to be
sure. A score above 80 is in no way shape or form a "bad game,"
and I've personally played and enjoyed every single Call of Duty
title since Call of Duty 2. But it does signify an interesting trend,
one that almost follows in Guitar Hero's footsteps. Critics loved
Guitar Hero II, accumulating a Metacritic score of 92. Slowly but
surely after that though the numbers began to slip, ever so slightly,
with each passing game. The final Guitar Hero game to be released,
Warriors of Rock in 2011, has a Metacritic of 72. Review numbers aren't everything, but they do signify a slip in quality, and often as a result, popularity.
Activision CEO Bobby Kotick
Obviously Call of Duty isn't quite to the point of Guitar Hero yet, but it could come soon. And when it does, what happens?
Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has been on record saying Activision's
business strategy is to essentially milk a few key franchises for all
they are worth. We saw it happen with Guitar Hero, and the same
strategy is being used for Call of Duty. He has, and will continue
to, put almost all of his company's resources into one boat. If the
boat sinks, will Activision have enough staying power to float?
It might, but the result isn't going to
be pretty. Big budget games are getting more and more expensive to
make. Games that sell millions of copies, like Tomb Raider, are
considered failures and as not living up to expectations when
compared to the amount of cash invested in a given title. What
happens when the biggest AAA game of them all, Call of Duty, the
safest bet of safest bets, becomes no more?
You can expect to see much fewer risks
taken by publishers. Most likely, more efforts will be made to
downsize climbing development costs. Games that follow similar
production schedules, such as Assassin's Creed, may rethink their
strategy of releasing a new title every year.
Bobby Kotick and industry leaders
aren't blind. They know what happened with Guitar Hero. They know
there can in fact be "too much of a good thing." They know the
danger. But the simple truth is that as long as games like Call of
Duty can continue to make money off a easily repeatable formula, they
are going to drive it out into the market until consumers can't take
So when will it happen? When will
gamers get tired of Call of Duty? Will it be a sudden decline, or
more gradual? Could it be with this year's installment, Call of Duty:
Ghosts? CoD will be for the first time in a long time getting some
fierce new competition from a newcomer early next year in the form of
Titanfall, developed by many of the very same people who made the
Call of Duty franchise into a success in the first place. I expect
Ghosts to sell well as usual, but I will make the prediction that it
will sell less than Black Ops II, and that many FPS gamers may very
well make the leap over to Respawn's new fast-paced mech shooter.
Battlefield as a franchise has also steadily begun to rise to Call of
Duty's challenge. Unlike other popular shooter Halo, Battlefield with
its modern warfare setting and gameplay is directly encroaching on
Call of Duty's turf. Battlefield also has the advantage of not being
released annually. There will be more newcomers looking to usurp Call
of Duty's FPS throne this coming year than ever before.
Will Titanfall usurp Call of Duty's throne? Only time will tell.
From there, it's anybody's guess. But
one day Call of Duty will not be the money printing machine it has
been for the last several years, and when that day comes, it will
mean big changes are in store for the industry.