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The war of the words continues between Electronic Arts and Activision. EA hasn’t been shy about the repetitive but immensely popular Call of Duty franchise and this time they flat out said that they expect the entire franchise to die like Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero within two or three years.
According to another flame-bait driven interview with Industry Gamers (and I just have to say, you guys at IG really do a great job of keeping the flames hot) EA’s corporate communication’s director, Jeff Brown, just went on and said what a lot of innovation-starved gamers have been wanting to hear for a long time, telling Activision’s Eric Hirshberg…
"Welcome to the big leagues Eric -- I know you're new in the job but someone should have told you this is an competitive industry…True that, Jeff. True that.
There are map packs priced at about $15 that comes out every two or three months for Call of Duty, a new paid-for Elite service, there are additional limited editions that range from $70 to $130 and there seems to be no end in sight of all the co-branded merchandising attached to the pop-cultural phenomenon. Not to mention the creators admitted Modern Warfare 3 wasn't even going to be doing anything new this time around. Now, no one has to buy all this stuff, but it shocks me how much Activision is making off of a franchise that doesn't really bring anything new to the table other than text saying you have a killstreak and perks that enable you to do stuff that's usually standard-fare in other shooter games.
Added to this, Activision doesn’t really seem to care about maintaining brand longevity, you can forget about a Mario or Zelda plan if you sign on to develop games for Activision. Instead, expect your product to get milked as often and as much as possible until consumers get fed up and sick of it and then watch your hard work go down the drain, your studio close and your life spiral out of control.
It sounds terrible but Activision has been closing down development studios left and right despite the billions, and billions and billions of dollars the Call of Duty name rakes in each year. Some of the studios they closed down includes Budcat Creations and Bizarre Creations. Heck, they even cancelled one of the few games that actually could have been a breath of fresh air from the repetitive first-person shooters and action-RPGs, True Crime: Hong Kong…citing that the budget ballooned and development was taking too long. Yeah, no spits. I’m sure it takes a little longer than two years to churn out a game that isn’t a pre-scripted collaboration of Michael Bay set-pieces and over-dramatic, slow-motion action sequences. Thankfully, Square Enix has picked up the tab for True Crime: Hong Kong, so not all hope is lost.
Funnily enough, Activision is playing it coy a bit…with Hirshberg saying that EA’s rants on their pathetic business practices isn’t healthy for the games industry and that EA publicly going after Activision is "bad for business", according to yet another gasp-worthy interview from Industry Gamers.
I think this tells us more about the state of the industry than the players in the game. For one thing, actually having money spent in big budget projects that reflect the interest of the gamers or developers seems to be way, way, way back on the to-do list for these corporations. What’s more is that it seems like developers these days are just being milked of their talents to produce some of the most brain-dead pieces of garbage I’ve ever witnessed. I sometimes feel embarrassed for the teams working on so-called “big budget” projects that seem to do nothing more than replicate whatever genre or play-style is popular in the mainstream.
It’s really sad, especially when you compare the industry to the hey-day of gaming, back when 3D Realms was pushing the envelop and id Software wasn’t trying to figure out how to standardize and reduce content for proper optimization on aging console hardware.
Anyway, I don’t look forward to Call of Duty dying and a bunch of studios being shutdown with thousands of people being put out of work, but I really do hope that there’s enough of a dent in Activision’s revenue to change their tune from the overbearing, wallet-raping monster that they’ve become.