Smart or Stupid: Activision Releasing a CoD Every Year
For reasons untold, when you release a game (that is part of a franchise) every year, there are bound to be more cons than pros. As such, the “Stupid” portion of this article will be quite large but by no means unfair in scope of the positives. That is for you, the readers to decide. So for those of you living under a rock, there is a certain FPS war franchise that goes by the name of Call of Duty. The franchise is both owned and published by Activision every year. As a result, there are certain problems that annoy gamers in each iteration. However, the series is one of the most profitable in gaming history.
Why it is Smart: CHA-CHING! Let’s face it…releasing a CoD every year is smart because of the cash flow. A solid shooter experience, a popular franchise, and hyped up releases lead to some of the biggest game day launches ever (I.E. Modern Warfare 2 (created by Infinity Ward) and Black Ops (created by Treyarch)). The latter game, Black Ops, broke sale and unit sold records like its launch day sales ($360 million) and 5 day sales ($650 million). Not to mention that in a short month, Black Ops sold close to 16 million copies and generated over one billion dollars in sales.
Sales aren’t the only impressive thing that Black Ops presented. Along with the money came the staggering online statistics seen below.
The total number of Black Ops players:
- Is greater than the audiences that watched Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O’Brien and Craig Ferguson in the U.S. for the entire week of December 6, 2010, combined.
- Exceeds the audience for the series finale of ABC’s Lost.
- Trumps the average viewership for the 2010 Major League Baseball World Series.
- Exceeds the combined audited circulation numbers for Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Playboy, GQ, Maxim, Newsweek, Time, ESPN: The Magazine and Sports Illustrated.
- Would be the third largest state in the U.S.
- Played online (as of December 27th) for a total of 600 million hours.
The last argument for the “Smart” category may seem a bit weak. With a release each year, fans get to see the next Call of Duty title sooner. Think of all the games that we wait forever to see a sequel too. In this sense, die hard CoD fans see their “sequel” much sooner than others. Plus, having the expectation of when a game will release every single year can’t hurt either. It’s mostly an appreciation type thing.
Why it is Stupid: The term “quantity over quality” may apply here. When you put out a game every year, to meet a deadline, the condition of the game will suffer in any multitude of ways. Modern Warfare 2 suffered from hackers/laggers like no tomorrow and Black Ops had its own infamous problems. Let’s start with the well known “Connection Interrupted” error. You could be innocently playing (mostly on the PS3/PC) and than 3 seconds later, you’ll want to throw your system across the room. What you just received was a gracious picture of a connector being disconnected from a jack which froze your game. This scenario could happen to anyone, at anytime, anywhere. Another, lesser, problem consisted of the game lobbies not starting despite the minimum number of people being met and host migration issues. These problems directly stimulated from servers that gamers played on. Perhaps more time was needed to work on said (Treyarch) servers?
With the system errors aside, releasing a CoD game every year has also disappointed gamers because of the mentioned errors. In fact, a pressure group by the name of Gamers’ Voice took legal action against Activision because they believed “Black Ops was unfinished”. MyGaming put Black Ops in a list of “11 Most Disappointing Games of 2010”. Their reasons are as follows.
“Black Ops was expected to fix the biggest problem with its predecessor; the PC version’s lack of dedicated servers. Unfortunately, it was released broken, and millions of gamers have complained about lag, frame rate issues, and general buginess. After numerous patches, the game is still not running as smoothly as it should be, and many have abandoned it all together.”
You can find complaints (not just by gaming websites) all across the internet on each Call of Duty and their errors respectively. But none of them were as entertaining as those found on the official Call of Duty website. My personal favorite was by a user called Tony Stark and his comments on Black Ops.
“After standing in line for Black Ops at the midnight release with much anticipation to play this game with little known problems, which was advertised – I wasn’t disappointed at first. However, the same old problems soon began: connection issues, lag, lag and did I mention lag? Host migration failing and more lag I thought, “Great another copy and paste port for the PS3. But weren’t we told it wasn’t a port?” Josh Olin said there was a dedicated PS3 team! A team of what? Homeless guys you hired off the street?”
You may notice that the majority of reasons in this article focus on Black Ops. This is because it’s the most recent CoD and a prime example of many problems within a game. Now when vast negative attention like this is garnered, usually you have to “save face” to protect your reputation. That is actually what Josh Olin, Treyarch Community Manager, and Mark Lamia, Treyarch Studio Head, did.
Olin, in all the controversy, stated via Twitter,
“There’s hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of players on the PS3 who have absolutely perfect, pristine experiences. I talk to them everyday – I see @replies to me on Twitter all the time from people going ‘I don’t know what people are complaining about. The game is perfect for me!’ So they do exist. I know that doesn’t make the people who are experiencing problems feel any better, but it should put it into perspective.”
Mark Lamia followed by saying,
“Here is what I will say: We know this for a fact, that the vast, vast majorities don’t have these sorts of experiences and they’re out there playing this game,” he said. “I really do encourage you to go online and play it. To the extent that there are issues we are unaware of, we are committed to trying to work to make sure the experience is good, that’s the most important thing. We are making the game for everyone. The game is robust, huge, we want to make sure if there are any issues they are addressed.”
“That’s not to say there aren’t edge cases. When we do hear of something, we’re not like not doing anything. We worked on the game for two years; we want nothing more than for people to like it, especially guys who invested in rigs to make sure they had a powerful enough system. Obviously we care about the PC community. We think it’s an awesome experience. I wish it wasn’t just the 360 version you felt that way about because we feel like it’s a great experience on all of the platforms.”
Looking at this from a factual standpoint, edge cases don’t number into the “hundred thousand” (boarding on million) and gain infamy that leads to legal action. The above statements pretty much seem like damage control, but you readers can decide that. None of these problems SEEMINGLY would happen if more time was spent on a CoD game instead of pumping one out every year. With this long article coming to its conclusion, the Call of Duty series does produce a good, overall, shooter experience. You just have to decide if the bugs, errors, and community management are worth that experience.
All info and statistics about Black Ops courtesy of callofduty-community.com.
Fellow DualShockers writer Michael had this to say about the subject. “I think it all depends on how you look at it. At the time being, it’s a win-win for everyone. Activision at this point cannot release a CoD every year. The company is slowly destroying a good thing, just like what they did with Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero.”