After a light news week and limited stuff to write about, the year has now started off nicely. I have some ideas with what I want to do with this blog and I may make a separate post about what my plans are. If you guys are interested that is. But please, keep reading and comment if you have a Blogger account. Any criticism is helpful. Stay tuned for further updates! Now onto post number 24:
Call of Duty is on top of the gaming world and it seems there is no slowing the franchise down. Modern Warfare 2 had the biggest launch of all time, and soon after Black Ops beat it by 10%. Any studio would be ecstatic that people appreciate their game that much, and everyone at that studio would be grateful - but not Activision! According to Wedbush Securities, the place where the Pach-Attack works, they predict Activision will unveil a "second tier" of its cashcow franchise. They also expect this to happen in the first quarter of 2011 - extremely soon. What could Activison be planning and how much bigger could Call of Duty possibly get?
The term "second tier" could mean anything. For Activision, the options are limitless. It could stretch from an in-game store, to a subscription-based MMO, to even releasing two games a year. And the sad thing is all of these would pay off. The CoD fanbase is very devoted - especially when new games and those egregiously priced map packs come out - and their reaction to Activision's next project should be interesting. We all think a Call of Duty MMO would pay off, but what if it doesn't? What if the fanbase finally sees what Activision is doing and calls them out on it? (This will never, ever happen until the day gaming dies, but it's always fun to speculate). At least if the company went the MMO format, they have Blizzard to look at for experience.
An evolution of the multiplayer side of this franchise has been rumoured for a long time so this isn't really a surprise. For avid readers of the prominent gaming blogs, there is an article every three weeks or so by Kotick or someone else reaffirming for everyone the possibility of an expansion. I don't know if this is Activision reassuring the video gaming industry that Call of Duty is still around - trust me, none of us have forgotten - or if they are bragging. I don't know, nor do I really care, but the gaming blogs can stop reporting on it already. I realize it makes for nice fodder, and the only more persistent story than this one last year was whether Brett Favre was going to retire.
In the document earlier this year, Activision laid out their plan for CoD; the company plans to deliver "high-margin digital online content and further the brand as the leading entertainment franchise in new geographies, new genres and with new business models." That's the corporate way of saying they want to take over the world. The aggressiveness of Activision can see in two ways: either the company is doing something good by exposing more people to video gaming, or destroying the very foundation of what video gaming is now. Such aggressiveness will open up new audiences beyond the already-established hardcore and newfound motion control crowd, and will give the rest of society a chance at redeeming their aged hatred of the industry. But also such aggressiveness puts Activision at an extreme advantage, way ahead of others who dare challenge Call of Duty's reign. Competition breeds innovation, and if one franchise is so successful that it cockblocks other franchises, then the FPS genre and maybe even video gaming in general is doomed. I hate to sound like a pessimist, but it is entirely possible for the actions of one company with one game to have a domino effect on the rest of the industry - that's just how fragile most economic markets are. Activision's actions could lead to another crash like the one in 1983.
But that is, of course, the gloomiest of scenarios and highly unlikely in the current environment. The state of the industry is strong and healthy and resilient to anything, even the economic troubles of the last two years - and the Call of Duty franchise has proven that. Even in bad times, when families are hard-pressed to feed their families and pay bills, people are still out fairing the bad weather to buy games. People claim the success of CoD on the stellar gameplay - and to some extent I agree, I was a big fan of Modern Warfare 1 myself - but it's getting stale. There is only so much a franchise can do before it must expand, and expand they will. I'm just waiting for the next Call of Duty game after modern warfare is done - one in space.