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'Triple-A franchise' is a term that seems to have lost all meaning and merit over the years. Remember when gamers used to brag about being able to run Crysis on the highest settings it looked so insane? Remember when Halo was the game to beat in the multiplayer genre and when shooting games were measured on how much you could do in the game world, rather than how fast they ran?
Well, to make matters more bizarre than what they already are and to further blur the perception most people have of Activision…it has been revealed that more than 500 developers work on the concurrent Call of Duty franchise, spanning multiple studios, multiple games and all sorts of insane network infrastructures.
In an interview with VentureBeat, one of the head-honchos in charge of developer operations at Activision Blizzard, Dave Stohl, commented on just how many developers are being employed to work on Call of Duty and the number is bizarrely staggering, clocking in at over 500.
What’s insane is that most gamers perceive each annual iteration of Call of Duty after the critical and financial success Modern Warfare as basically being a reskin job on each subsequent title. It’s kind of hard to argue when you compare the series to other first-person shooter games out there such as BioShock, Portal, Half-Life, Battlefield and Red Orchestra, which are titles that are looked upon as industry-moving games…games that push the boundaries while offering gamers something fun and unique.
The crazy part about it is that according to VentureBeat Activision has invested more than $2 billion in initiatives for the Call of Duty franchise, which turns an already bizarre story into an almost laughable situation in which a franchise that isn’t much more innovative than Free Radical’s 2005 shooter TimeSplitters: Future Perfect (which was another run-and-gun, 60fps shooter with a map maker and plenty of breakable glass) requires so many developers and so much effort. I suppose the annual outings are getting more and more demanding? In fact, Treyarch's next Call of Duty game is expected to arrive next year so those 500 devs are staying quite busy.
For all the resources Activision supposedly has been pouring into the game I’m honestly shocked at how little it shows. Each game since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare has been racking in massive amounts of cash and easily selling 20 plus million units across multiple platforms, but let's be honest it all looks the same. So much so that EA gives CoD three years tops before it all bottoms out.
The funny thing about it is that on multiple sites where the news has spread, many of the gamers in the comment section ask a very reasonable question: Where does it all go?
CoD maybe the leader in sales but everything attached to the series is almost ancient compared to many other games out there. It certainly doesn’t match the weapons or class originality found in a title like Borderlands…it doesn’t have open or interactive worlds like Elder Scrolls…it doesn’t have useable vehicles, destructible environments or state of the art visual effects like Battlefield and it doesn’t include multiple branching storylines like Heavy Rain or even the old open-world, RPG-shooter that garnered tons of gamer respect for Activision, True Crime: Streets of L.A.
Sadly, I’m not really sure what’s up with Call of Duty. It seems to be part of a strange universe where anti-innovation reaps huge sales numbers and gameplay mechanics that are nearly a decade old requires hundreds of millions of dollars in investments. Truly bizarre.
You can check out the entire interview over at VentureBeat.