Thursday, August 1, 2013

Is Call of Duty Finally Losing Ground?

  Back in 2007 we saw Call of Duty become a juggernaut in the gaming industry with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Ever since that year we've seen a slew of titles that have tried to emulate the series. It is undeniable that Call of Duty has left it's mark on the industry. Games like Homefront, Medal of Honor, even Crysis and Halo took notes. For a while it seemed Call of Duty was too big to fail. It was an annual series and consistently broke sales records with each new release.

  I'm going to be brutally honest here. I genuinely dislike the series. I owned Call of Duty 4 and I even enjoyed Modern Warfare 2 for a little while, but people can only handle so much redundancy. The games came year after year with such little innovation that it quickly became stale.

You know a game is stale when I can show you a 
screenshot and you can't tell which game it's from.

  Regardless, it still sold millions, but with E3 in our memories and the excitement of new hardware, new intellectual properties, and promises of greater experiences fresh in our minds, is Call of Duty finally on death row? This is the first time that I've felt confident in this answer but, I honestly think it is. We are at a point in time where we are demanding more from our games. For the next generation of consoles we want experiences that we haven't had before. Call of Duty couldn't be further from a fresh experience if it tried.

  The curse of having a popular franchise is that the risks that the developers are willing to take in said franchise are minute. If you change too much about the game it ceases to identify with fans and it becomes a different intellectual property and if a new intellectual property launches it lacks the name recognition of the series which will hurt sales. 

When you're biggest marketing point is the ability
to play as dogs, you should probably 
reevaluate the situation.

  This is the first year in what seems like ages that Call of Duty didn't have a presence at the E3 press events. The first we saw of it was at the official Xbox One hardware reveal and the promise of the developers was this: dogs and a deep story. Destiny promises open landscapes and persistent worlds in which players will travel through the solar system all without loading screens or starting menus. Dead Rising 3 promises a persistent online world without loading screens, the ability to use anything as a weapon, unique and varied artificial intelligence systems that learn from player interactions to create the best zombie apocalypse game in existence. Call of Duty Ghosts promises ... dogs. 

  Not only are there other games that are promising better experiences than the folks developing Call of Duty, but Respawn Entertainment, ex-CoD developers, are making their game better than Infinity Ward is. Have you seen Titanfall? It's Call of Duty + Mechs + Persistent World + Parkour + Jetpacks.

It's like Mirror's Edge, with Call of Duty, 
with Hawken, with Crysis.

  Titanfall is basically Call of Duty, but fresh, fun, and unique. This is exactly what we want. I wanna jet pack out of a giant mech, and latch on to the brain of an enemy mech and shoot it's brain until it explodes. I want to rip the pilot our of a mech like ripping a heart out of the enemy. That's just cool. I'll admit, I enjoyed playing Modern Warfare 2. It's mindless fun, running and gunning, and it's nice to just relax and not think too much when playing a game. I totally get that, but just because something is mindless doesn't mean it can stay the same forever. If you sell the same product to the same people every year, they're going to get bored. Titanfall is definitely looking up to being a great mindless run and gun game with some awesome twists and I look forward to playing it, because like it or not we can't run on games like The Last of Us. Sometimes we need to blow off steam. However, if Titanfall follows the same path Call of Duty is now on, it wont last. Annualizing Titanfall would be an awful idea and hopefully the folks at Respawn Recognize that. 

  I honestly believe Call of Duty is on the decline and if there's any game that's going to take it's place I have a feeling it's going to be Titanfall. Of course Titanfall doesn't release until spring of next year, so if anything's going to dethrone Call of Duty Ghosts in 2013 it's GTA V, but that's just my guess.

  Will Call of Duty still continue to sell millions? I don't even remotely doubt that. There will continue to be fans of the franchise who will pick up Ghosts by the millions, but I can say with certainty that in the year 2014, Call of Duty will not break any sales records and will fall behind. A 2013 sales record being broken for the franchise is more likely, but even that I'm skeptical of. 

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