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The Call of Duty franchise has been progressing along in a very regular, and predictable, way for the last several years. A new game comes out in the fall, it's supported with additional maps and other DLC for about a year, keeping players invested until the next Call of Duty game comes out the next fall. Rinse, repeat. However, with Black Ops 4, Treyarch wants people to not only keep playing the upcoming title for the next 12 months, but potentially, for the next several years. I had a chance to speak with Treyarch senior producer Yale Miller during the recent Black Ops 4 reveal event, and he told me that the new game is being designed as a platform that could see significantly longer support than your average Call of Duty title. According to Miller...
The way we are thinking about it, the way we are building this game is it is a platform. It is something that we expect fans to be playing long into the future, years into the future. We expect Treyarch as a studio with the help of others studios as well, just as we always have, to continue to support this with new and rich content for a long time.
No Call of Duty title sees a complete exodus of players when the next installment comes out, people always have favorite titles that they'll keep playing, but the whole point of having a franchise that sees new installments every year is to get the player base to buy them. Yale Miller stopped short of saying that Black Ops 4 's intent for long-term playability would impact the way future Call of Duty games come to market, certainly, if nobody buys into Black Ops 4 the way that Treyarch wants, this plan goes by the wayside, but it certainly seems possible that it could. If people get invested in Black Ops 4 to the point where a significant number of people don't buy the next game that otherwise would, deciding instead to purchase the next Season Pass for Black Ops 4, it means a hit to Activision's bottom line, a lack of return on the investment in the new game. At the very least, if Treyarch commits significant resources to building new content, then they'll have fewer resources available to work on Black Ops 5, or whatever else they might want to develop.
That's not to say that new games won't come eventually, but certainly, they could come on a slower cycle than one every 12 months. This could give the other studios like Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer more time to work and come up with Call of Duty games that are more significant advancements over their predecessors. Meanwhile, the recurring revenue of the previous games' additional DLC, Season Passes or whatever, means that Call of Duty continues to make money, even though no new game gets released.
It will be interesting to see if this plan for long-term support works the way Treyarch expects. Even if it doesn't impact the way other studios handle Call of Duty it certainly could change the way Treyarch specifically handles its share of the franchise.