Are you a shooter/FPS fan? If so, chances are you’re a Call of Duty player. Either way, how do you feel about Activision’s practice of releasing a new CoD game year after year with (arguably) minimal changes?
While Activision’s Call of Duty has been an unstoppable juggernaut in the last couple of years when it comes to sales, a lot of critics and gamers have become wary of “franchise fatigue.”
This concern is not lost on Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg. In an interview with GamesIndustry, Hirshberg reveals that they don’t look at Call of Duty as a “game,” but rather as a “service.” He even compares it to a sports league that fans support year-in and year-out each and every season.
It’s a year-round activity. So, if you look at it like an annual retail release, by those standards, it’s easy to get nervous. But if you look at it through a different lens; if you look at it like, the NFL happens every year and people like it every year and they obsess over it every year and they come back for more every year and I think that it’s an entertainment relationship that’s pretty unique in the gaming space.
Hirshberg also adds that there’s no indication that the franchise is slowing or nearing its saturation point.
Let me also say that you can’t find a metric that would indicate that it’s fatiguing or that there are signs of slowing…The concurrency of players is higher than ever and not only that, it’s across several games. I think that the top three most played games on Xbox Live are the last three Call of Duty games, which brings me to my second point, which is, what we’re trying to do is make it more of a diversified business within itself. There are now multi-prongs and multi ways to interact with the franchise all under one umbrella.
With year over year sales increases and records being broken every November, it’s hard to disagree with him. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 breached the $1 billion mark in just 16 days, after toppling first day performance and five-day <em>entertainment</em> sales records. That billion dollars accounts for just about 16 million copies according to an Activision estimate.
Black Ops didn’t reach that milestone until a month out from its 2010 release, eventually selling upwards of 25 million units, making it the best selling game of all time. Modern Warfare 3 is already the best selling game of 2011, and in a few months we’ll be able to know for sure if it has edged Black Ops as the top performer of all time.
In any case, I just hope Hirshberg remembers that other franchise of theirs that got burned out due to saturation. Yes, I’m talking about Guitar Hero.