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Leaked Activision Memos Compare CoD, Guitar Hero

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the rehashing-innovation dept.

Games 101

Gaming site Giant Bomb got its hands on some internal memos at Activision discussing the status of their flagship Call of Duty franchise. One exec asks, "Isn't Call of Duty today just like Guitar Hero was a few years back?" A response assures him that Call of Duty is more firmly entrenched than the recently-collapsed music game genre, and adds that Activision doesn't get enough credit for innovating. Quoting: "If you really step back and dispassionately look at any measurement—sales, player engagement, hours of online play, performance of DLC—you can absolutely conclude that the potential for this franchise has never been greater. In order to achieve this potential, we need to focus: on making games that constantly raise the quality bar; on staying ahead of the innovation curve; on surrounding the brand with a suite of services and an online community that makes our fans never want to leave. Entertainment franchises with staying power are rare. But Call of Duty shows all of the signs of being able to be one of them. It’s up to us. ... Activision doesn’t always seem to get the credit it deserves in terms of innovation in my opinion, but there is no short supply of it, even in our narrower slate." An editorial at Gamepro takes exception to this, saying that Activision should stop trying to milk its franchises dry.

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That'd be the day (2)

Nocturna81 (1427457) | about 3 years ago | (#35904882)

They stopped milking everything they own dry. Makes you wonder how long they can stay in business like that!

Re:That'd be the day (5, Funny)

Nocturna81 (1427457) | about 3 years ago | (#35904900)

Or as Penny Arcade put it: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2007/12/5/ [penny-arcade.com] (sorry for replying to my own post, I forgot to include that link)

Isn't your reply just like your first post was? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35905202)

This is a great question and one we have thought about a lot, but there are several key differences between the two posts worth considering. First post quickly reached incredible heights, but then began a steady decline. Your reply, on the other hand, has steadily grown every single minute of its several-minute existence.

Your post was a new genre which had incredible appeal, but which had not stood the test of time. Your reply exists in a genre-self replies--that has shown remarkable staying power and wide appeal over a period of years. Plus, your reply has inspired a massive, persistent, online community of players, making it perhaps the 'stickiest' reply of all time.

If you really step back and dispassionately look at any measurementâ"views, reader engagement, hours of online activity, moderationâ"you can absolutely conclude that the potential for this post has never been greater. In order to achieve this potential, we need to focus: on making replies that constantly raise the quality bar; on staying ahead of the innovation curve; on surrounding the brand with a suite of services and an online community that makes our fans never want to leave. Post franchises with staying power are rare. But your post shows all of the signs of being able to be one of them. Itâ(TM)s up to us.

Nocturna81 doesnâ(TM)t always seem to get the credit he deserves in terms of innovation in my opinion, but there is no short supply of it, even in his narrower slate, As I said, when you look at this list of projects and the innovations embedded within them, it is a pipeline any commenter would kill for.

Your post is one of the biggest commentary franchises in this discussion. You have assembled an unprecedented team of some of the finest writers and commentary talent in the world to keep this post ahead of the curve.

Re:Isn't your reply just like your first post was? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35905954)

Well done, AC!

Re:That'd be the day (3, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | about 3 years ago | (#35904936)

Exactly. I've bought one CoD game so far. Another came out a few months later and everyone seemed to want to play that instead, despite it being pretty much the same game, just with some different maps. Compared to how things were with Counter-Strike when I was really into my FPSes - free mod, hundreds/thousands of maps available to play for free that can be downloaded from servers if you don't have them... the whole DLC thing is just a massive step backwards for the consumer.

I hate "episodic content" and DLC - if I know in advance that a game is planned in "episodes" I'll tend to wait until all of them come out before playing (for example Monkey Island 5 - great game, no real point being sold in "episodes"). As for DLC I tend to just avoid it unless it's very cheap, or very good.

Re:That'd be the day (1)

x*yy*x (2058140) | about 3 years ago | (#35905072)

Uh, there's still lots of players in all CoD games - MW1, World at War, MW2 and Black Ops. Don't blame the other players if you first spend the time on the internet bitching how you wont buy a new game at it's full price but buy it at $20 a few years later and they've moved to new games already.

Personally I like MW2 the best, the whole noobtube + one man army + danger close thing kind of makes it fun, for me at least. Not so sure about others.

Re:That'd be the day (4, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | about 3 years ago | (#35905176)

Crapptivision said the same thing about the other franchises they killed.

Tony Hawk.
Guitar Hero.
Crash Bandicoot
Spyro the Dragon
The repeated - and getting worse and worse - Spider-Man games
The repeated - and getting worse and worse - X-Men games (ugh, X-men fighting series from developers who didn't know crap about fighting games instead of more MvC... sigh)
Yet Another James Bond Ripoff

Someone needs to take all the Crapptivision execs, line them up, and fly down the line on rollerblades just slapping them all repeatedly till they grow some common sense.

Re:That'd be the day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35905494)

Yo dude.

You don't know how many fanbois crappyvision still has running around. Welcome to mod-down city. The truth hurts, fanbois will hate and they play the modpoint lottery with tons of fake accounts just for days like today.

I advise not posting again. No point wasting your karma just telling the truth about crappyvision.

Re:That'd be the day (2)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | about 3 years ago | (#35906246)

I think CoD is the exception in that they haven't run that franchise into the ground. They keep making compelling games.

What I hate - and this is not limited to Craptivision or to COD - is that everyone wants to make a game into a community right now. The game has to be online-focused, you end up level-grinding just to use better than garbage starting weapons (MW2)...

You know, this is a 1st person shooter. Strip away all the graphics and weapons, and I'm playing Doom again because the basic concept is fun. I don't want to be forced into an online experience with the difficulty set at insane (with human opponents), playing the same 10 maps over and over. I want a story. I want a campaign, character development, storytelling. I want to do story-based missions and otherwise play a console game.

It's such a shame to waste a good game on deathmatches. We could tell a compelling human drama about war, but instead, you get a campaign you finish in 3 hours and then you end up playing capture the flag for a week before you're bored again.

Re:That'd be the day (1)

flibbidyfloo (451053) | about 3 years ago | (#35906518)

I want a story. I want a campaign, character development, storytelling. I want to do story-based missions and otherwise play a console game.

It's such a shame to waste a good game on deathmatches. We could tell a compelling human drama about war, but instead, you get a campaign you finish in 3 hours and then you end up playing capture the flag for a week before you're bored again.

Try Crysis 2 if you haven't. I'm about to finish it, unlike the latest CoD, which I stopped playing about halfway through from boredom.

Re:That'd be the day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35907712)

Okay, yeah, we are still playing Doom ... but no way is it even close to COD games. Nor, is each game just another episode. In terms of campaign, the first had the best story line, and has gone down with each it. Still fun ... but nothing like the first. In terms of the online game play, every itereration has been innovative changing the dynamics of the game with more fun trade-offs between development paths. Each itteration has added better candy to leveling ... making the game addictive. Each game has introduced new toys for kill streak rewards ... which change the game both offensively and defensively.

It is by no means just 4 releases of the same game with different maps. You can't say the same for some of it's biggest competitors. Halo, which has some of the most compelling campaigns, was nothing but new maps for the online play. Yes, learning the tricks of a map is fun ... but still ... I didn't need to buy a new game for that. COD ultimately put pressure on Halo and finally in reach you could choose from various starting classes. Woopty doo. :\ A little late in the game.

In terms of playing against a computer ... that is fun for a short time until you ultimately beat it on all levels. Then what? New maps? Online play definately offers a dynamic to never really knowing what you are playing against ... the opponent is constantly evolving. To me, that is what the game is all about.

Re:That'd be the day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35907814)

Here's a non-exhaustive list of words you should avoid if you want to have your argument taken seriously:

Crap of Warcrap




Re:That'd be the day (4, Interesting)

keytoe (91531) | about 3 years ago | (#35908550)

I don't want to be forced into an online experience with the difficulty set at insane (with human opponents), playing the same 10 maps over and over. I want a story. I want a campaign, character development, storytelling. I want to do story-based missions and otherwise play a console game.

My wife likes to play shooters, but she likes to play with me. This is incredibly awesome, but more and more games are making this impossible.

We picked up CoD: Black Ops specifically because it claimed to support cooperative multiplayer. Turns out that the co-op feature only works online. As in, not in your house. I even did research before I bought the game, but every review just drooled all over it and said 'cooperative multiplayer' without further specification.

So we got a single player game that neither of us want to play or we can get murdered in death matches by squealing 12 year olds. Or I could play co-op with some stranger I don't care about. So we just played zombies, which got old pretty quick. I'd say we got about $20 worth of fun for a game that cost $60.

This whole 'build an online community at the expense of all else' bullshit needs to stop. I want to play games with people in my house. It seems the only company who remembers this is Nintendo. So my options are 'games for adults who aren't in your house' or 'games for kids who are in your house' - but that skips an entire group of people who want to play 'games for adults with other adults in the house'. There are a large number of us in this demographic, and we have money to spend.

Re:That'd be the day (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about 3 years ago | (#35909680)

In particular, a first-person game has a particularly difficult problem to solve if it wants to support local co-op. To start, it means split-screen rendering, in which the local scene is rendered to multiple cameras instead of just one (it's an oversimplication, but close enough that it suffices). Rendering multiple scenes costs significantly more, meaning the frame rate could be halved in the worst cases, as well as increasing memory requirements for a given scene's complexity. In order to attain acceptable frame rates in split screen mode, the world's geometric and texture complexity must be reduced to allow for this worst-case scenario, which obviously sacrifices the single-player-per-machine experience. There are other, more complex problems as well. I'm not a graphics programmer (I do AI, audio, cinematics, etc) , but my understanding is that post-processing effects are typically designed to work on the entire screen at once - a split-screen scenario probably complicates this as well. The audio engine must take into account multiple listener positions. All this, not to mention game design implications, which are significant as well for co-op games... Frankly, it's no surprise that so few first-person games support local-multiplayer modes.

At least now you know to look for games that specifically call this feature out (typically called *local* co-op play, or something like that).

Re:That'd be the day (1)

keytoe (91531) | about 3 years ago | (#35911354)

In particular, a first-person game has a particularly difficult problem to solve if it wants to support local co-op.

Interesting to hear all the technical hurdles expressed. I knew some existed, but I love details.

That said, I recall playing 4-up split screen Golden Eye in the late 90s. It is, without doubt, my favorite shooter of all time. I know that wasn't exactly doing full physics modeling, particle effects and all the other render magic that makes modern games look so good and play so well, but why does that always have to be the goal?

I'd just like to see more effort put into the local end of games. Gamers aren't just young kids any more - Nintendo has proven that with the Wii. But just because we're old doesn't mean we're not interested in chasing our loved ones around an abandoned missile silo with a sniper rifle once in a while. This market exists, this market has money, and none of the big players seem interested in targeting it.

Re:That'd be the day (2)

Stregano (1285764) | about 3 years ago | (#35908362)

As a Tony Hawk fan, and a fan of Tony Hawk Ride, I do see what they were going for with the ultimately failed Tony Hawk Shred. It is just one of those a little too late type of deals with that game (and Tony Hawk Shred is a much better improvement over Ride). It is just too bad that they did not make Tony Hawk Shred the first game and just take that extra time with it instead of pushing out Ride.

The problem with execs running a game company is that I am willing to put money down saying that these execs are not big gamers. That is a huge issue. They are in it for the money and as long as their games continue to sell even if they are milking a franchise, they assume they are making good games. A really good game, like the case with Tony Hawk Shred, if it sells poorly, the company assumes it is a bad game and completely wipe away that entire development studio (yes, RoboModo is no more and a huge factor was the sales of Tony Hawk Shred).

I could throw out countless examples, but the truth of the matter is that as long as there are execs in these companies that are more about the "bottom line" and less about the games themselves, this type of trend will continue. These execs do not play these games. They only go based off of numbers. Justin Bieber sells albums like crazy, but that does not mean his music is good. Bieber sucks balls.

With Guitar Hero, that is just too bad. They just milked it too much. Had they stepped back and not pushed out so many, it would still be around. Think of the anticipation for Guitar Hero 2. Even Guitar Hero 3 had this anticipation for release (not as big as 2, but it was there). Then they tried to compete with Rock Band with Guitar Hero World Tour and then eventually Band Hero. They should have just stuck to what worked as they were making good sales.

One of the issues is not all just the execs though, it is the way these games get purchased. Good franchises are now based on sales, so that means that even if it is a bad franchise that still sells, somebody is still buying it. The solution to this is very simple, but most people will not do it. What people do is during the next iteration of the game, purposefully don't buy it. If the game gets horrible sales, it will be seen that it was a bad game. Knowing Activision, they will try to release a "redemption" game for the franchise after that which will be significantly better (i.e. Tony Hawk Shred). So then we buy that one because it will be much better than the milked thing they pushed to us before.

That will never work because people are dumb enough to purchase Madden every single year and buy every single CoD game that comes out. As long as people continue to purchase milked franchises, they will make them.

Re:That'd be the day (1)

somersault (912633) | about 3 years ago | (#35905188)

I bought MW2 for PS3 not long after it came out, and I still find it enjoyable (love knife rushing with commando pro, that's when I started getting decent scores). There are still players of course, though one of my friends kept trying to get me to get Black Ops despite it basically being the same game with some different maps (I haven't actually tried it, but I played one of the WWII CoD games in the past and if felt exactly the same as MW2).

Re:That'd be the day (1)

kevinmenzel (1403457) | about 3 years ago | (#35905426)

Honestly - I'm not really in to CoD. Despite owning the entire series, I've really not put THAT much in - because when ever I played MW or MW2 at my friends' houses, I didn't really enjoy it. Black Ops to me feels very different. I'm not sure about the single player campaigns - I'm still working through CoD 1.. but in terms of multiplayer, I really do enjoy Black Ops more for some reason. Probably because the maps are just... I dunno - I find them better designed. Easier to sort of throw yourself into a game and actually have some idea of where you are and how different parts of the map relate to each other, even on large maps, in much less time. More color in the maps helps a lot in that regard.

Plus, I like playing Zork on my XBox.

Re:That'd be the day (1)

MogNuts (97512) | about 3 years ago | (#35906030)

Yea, I have to say, I give Treyarch credit for this. The maps are amazing. And not a single spot you can really camp, which is good. *Every* spot has multiple entry points so you can outmaneuver and kill an enemy. They did a great job.

I'm starting to think in hindsight that Treyarch was the better developer. Yes, IW created MW 1. But Treyarch was really the one to refine it, and also truly support it. Look at WaW. 3 or 4 map packs! MW2 had only 2. And in MW2 with noob-toobers, it just killed it. IW did nothing. It was like IW said I don't care after a certain time. Yet Treyarch still is working--witness the gimping of the AK-74U.

Re:That'd be the day (1)

RalphTheWonderLlama (927434) | about 3 years ago | (#35906346)

I have to agree. I thought the maps on World At War were by far the best, better than Modern Warfare 2 and 1. I haven't tried Black Ops.

Re:That'd be the day (1)

MogNuts (97512) | about 3 years ago | (#35909004)

Check it out. Now's a good time actually. It's at $50 now. At least you don't totally feel ripped off like MW1 when it was a year later and it still was $60.

Also too, now there are 2 map packs out. So you won't get bored and put the game away after 3 months immediately. Now you can play, then when you get bored, extend the life once and then again.

Although, for what they charge for 2 packs you could get a whole game. But then again the MP is pretty darn amazing. You could do Homefront or Crysis 2--but Homefront MP is atrocious. Decisions, decisions. :)

Re:That'd be the day (1)

RalphTheWonderLlama (927434) | more than 2 years ago | (#35928866)

I don't want to buy any map packs. Buying a $60 game every year is more than enough for me. I hope they didn't shortchange the maps in the base version to save them for $$ map packs. World at War map packs came free with the patches. I may try it.

Re:That'd be the day (1)

internerdj (1319281) | about 3 years ago | (#35908160)

The pacing is different between IW and Treyarch games. Not Counterstrike vs Team Fortress different, but definitely different. CoD:BO has some action delays that make it a slower multiplayer experience than MW or MW2.

Re:That'd be the day (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | about 3 years ago | (#35905622)

(love knife rushing with commando pro, that's when I started getting decent scores).

I was about to start posting a long series of the most heinous insults I could conjure, but then I saw your sig. Figures. I personally a good round of noob tubing once in a while just to hear people whine.

In all seriousness though, I never bought Black Ops either. I had a chance to play it recently, and it was nothing special. Just some new maps and crappier guns. I still play MW2 and never have trouble finding games.

I also played the shit out of all the WWII COD games from the very beginning. They have a history of being awesome. I was a little confused about the article/summary's implication that COD was not yet an entrenched franchise. I think it's already there.

Re:That'd be the day (1)

somersault (912633) | about 3 years ago | (#35906406)

Hehe :) actually I generally try not to troll, I just love that Boxxy song, and having it as my sig has stopped so many people posting outraged responses to my opinions ;)

I just got fed up of people constantly knifing me as soon as they appeared, so forced myself to use knife only for a while until I got used to the button (I was used to a different key with the Battlefield controls and I don't think the CoD ones were customisable to match it). I just ran around in a free for all in a very compact map without many open areas, and was surprised when I started getting scores that were consistently in the top 3. My normal play style is generally to be cautious (too much CS), whereas modern games don't really penalise deaths, they only reward kills and completing objectives. So doing the knife thing helped me to become a better player in these more modern games, and actually ended up helping my kill to death ratio too. I'd never heard of noob tubing until today, but it sounds like you tend to blow up yourself a lot with that too. Anyway, I don't see the problem with either knifing or using the grenade launcher. If a tactic can make you consistently better, why not use it? Camping is generally useless in respawn games like CoD, and using knifes (especially with Commando where you can basically knife instantly from a good 3 metres away.. it's crazy) and grenades seems like a smart tactic if everyone's rushing around.

Re:That'd be the day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35905576)

I remember when "MW2" stood for MechWarrior 2. A great series that Activision of the time wouldn't put the time in to maintain, so FASA took it elsewhere.

And the Mechwarrior games were FUN, unlike Turd of Dookie where all you do is run around, shooting, and hearing 14-year-olds swear and call people "nigger" and "gay" over the headset.

Don't blame the other players if you first spend the time on the internet bitching how you wont buy a new game at it's full price but buy it at $20 a few years later

A few years later?

Try six months later.

Buy World at War. Three months later you can't play with anyone unless you shell out for the map packs. Another $40 blown.

Then out comes Modern Warfare 2. Just about everyone dumps WaW, the servers go quiet. So you switch too. Three months later, you can't play with anyone unless you shell out another $30 for "map packs" that were ready in time for game release but that Asstivision deliberately held back to milk the cash cow.

Then three more months later, Crap Ops comes out. And 90% of the players move to that. So your $100+ blown on Modern Warfare 2, after you blew $100+ on WaW, is now worthless too.

And of course, the DLC train of "map packs" and "weapon packs" has to continue, so now if you want to play you're buying Crap Ops at $60, and spending another $10/month on an MMORPG-that-isn't-an-MMORPG on the DLC crap, just in time for them to release ANOTHER one and start the fucking cycle all over again.

And what really gets me is that at one time, you got a SINGLE PLAYER GAME that was still fun to play even if the multiplayer servers go quiet. But starting with MW1 and WaW, and definitely working its way through Crap Ops, what you have instead is a "single player campaign" that's a glorified fucking tutorial and dumps you into the "ok well that's all now go online and play because we were too fucking lazy to program a real game" screen.

Re:That'd be the day (1)

RalphTheWonderLlama (927434) | about 3 years ago | (#35906392)

I saw a lot of people still playing World at War. Also a lot of new maps came in the (free) patches - up to 1.7. I didn't buy any map packs and didn't even know they existed. I think the WaW maps are fantastic personally.

It beats playing the same maps over and over on Modern Warfare 2 but that's what I play now mostly. There are plenty of people playing that. If it weren't for friends upgrading to the newer game each time I might not have gotten MW2. I haven't gone to Black Ops yet. I don't play all that much so I don't want to buy a $60 game every year, especially if it's not that much different.

Re:That'd be the day (1)

starfire83 (923483) | about 3 years ago | (#35913068)

The Call of Duty franchise is the Madden of the FPS world. The games aren't good but you have all these dumbasses that just buy them up every year including all the bullshit DLC. I bought Bad Company 2 thinking it would be a good game. Campaign lasted about 4-5 hours, if that, and ended on a cliffhanger. Did they release a DLC for the campaign mode? Nope, just map packs for online multiplayer and an unrelated expansion pack. Screw these companies that are pumping out what can barely be called a game and relying on the online multiplayer to sell the titles.

Re:That'd be the day (1)

slackbheep (1420367) | about 3 years ago | (#35905232)

I have to agree. I love the idea of DLC, especially in the case of franchises that I enjoy a lot, such as Bioware's RPGs, Half-Life2, and so on. The problem is that there are very very few examples of a company getting it right. the HL2 episodes have both been excellent, but spread out to the point its long been a joke. Bioware has started to find a better medium with its later packs, Lair of the Shadow Broker was simply excellent and Arrival was interesting if pretty light on character development. On the other hand most of the DLC for Dragon Age Origins wasn't really anything I'd worry about missing even as a self described superfan :P

Also worth noting were the DLC packs for Borderlands, which seemed pretty well received by the community as well.

Re:That'd be the day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35905500)

I've bought one CoD game so far. Another came out a few months later and everyone seemed to want to play that instead, despite it being pretty much the same game, just with some different maps.

Mmm. Sounds nearly as bad as sports games.


"Isn't...isn't it the same game with slightly different stats on each team? And wouldn't just...playing as a different team make up for that anyhow?"


"Yeah, but...I mean what's exactly different? They've only been developing this for...less than a year I'd assume. Even the game engine, the graphics, all of that is only incrementally different if that at least."



Re:That'd be the day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35906298)

Black-Ops sucked compared to World at War and the Modern Warfares'. I played it all the way to finish and I'd have to say it's a great game but really annoyed me somehow compared to the others I mentioned. The extra gore was welcome but I'm looking forward to another Modern Warfare game.

Re:That'd be the day (1)

somersault (912633) | about 3 years ago | (#35906444)

MW2 is the only one I've played, but the Single player was IMO pretty awful compared to other action games I've played recently. The ice climbing was a fun little addition, but the rest of it was rather uninspired. Battlefield: Bad Company 1 single player was my favourite out of all these modern FPSes (not that I've played that many recent ones) because it had a great sense of humour. Bad Company 2 wasn't as good as BC1 (the script seemed awful.. like they'd not bothered with making it funny, but instead interjected random swearing to try to make up for it somehow), but still way better than MW2.

Re:That'd be the day (1)

Beardydog (716221) | about 3 years ago | (#35908584)


I have to be running Steam, Games for Windows LIVE, and Rockstar Games Social Club if I want to play GTA4 online.

If there is one thing I DO NOT NEED MORE OF it is

Re:That'd be the day (1)

russotto (537200) | about 3 years ago | (#35906158)

They stopped milking everything they own dry. Makes you wonder how long they can stay in business like that!

It's as with any mine; as long as the value of the material is greater than the cost of extraction, you can stay in business indefinitely like that. The only reason not to proceed to that point is if they have something which will pay off better for the same cost.

Sounds 'Too' Good? (3, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | about 3 years ago | (#35904916)

If you really step back and dispassionately look at any measurement—sales, player engagement, hours of online play, performance of DLC—you can absolutely conclude that the potential for this franchise has never been greater.

Wow, they sure think highly of themselves. Do they actually use this type of self promotion & recognition internally?

In order to achieve this potential, we need to focus: on making games that constantly raise the quality bar; on staying ahead of the innovation curve; on surrounding the brand with a suite of services and an online community that makes our fans never want to leave.

Marketing speak too? This sounds *too* much like a pat on the back to me. I wonder of they leaked this on purpose?

Re:Sounds 'Too' Good? (5, Insightful)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 3 years ago | (#35904932)

Nah, I don't see any nefarious purpose here. This is just the usual corporate circlejerk - some underling telling the overlord what he wants to hear.

Re:Sounds 'Too' Good? (5, Insightful)

Sibko (1036168) | about 3 years ago | (#35904986)

Sounds more to me like you're jumping on a bandwagon and hating what they do regardless of what they do. For example, this quote:

If you really step back and dispassionately look at any measurement—sales, player engagement, hours of online play, performance of DLC—you can absolutely conclude that the potential for this franchise has never been greater.

and you say:

Wow, they sure think highly of themselves. Do they actually use this type of self promotion & recognition internally?

Well you know what bub, was anything they said there actually incorrect? No! It wasn't! The series has a huge playerbase, sells well, engages people for hundreds of hours in multplayer. By every metric they use, the game excels and has the potential to be even better. So how about you set aside your elitist bias and preconceived notion and look at reality when it bites you in the ass. Call of Duty is popular, millions of people like this game, and the execs know that, and judging by this memo they seem to know that they need to improve their product for it to continue selling.

Your entire post can be summarized as: "Stop liking the things I don't like!"

Re:Sounds 'Too' Good? (1)

somersault (912633) | about 3 years ago | (#35905056)

Their ways of exploring its "potential to be even better" is by pumping out more and more frequent updates though. The real way to make it better for the consumer is to release less often so that there are more people that can afford to be playing the latest version with everyone else. Also releasing map updates for free, or allowing custom maps, etc. Really if I was desperate for a good FPS experience I'd go back to the PC and Source based mods..

Guitar Hero and Rock Band "had a huge playerbase, sold well, engaged people for hundreds of hours in multplayer. By every metric possible, the game excels and has the potential to be even better". I'm sure I read hat they made more money than any other genre of game, probably mostly thanks to overpriced peripherals. They killed off interest by pumping out wayyyyyyyy too many versions in a short space of time and far too many fancy new peripherals. Once a year updates would have been fine. Leaving people wanting slightly is better than pandering to their instant gratification nature, otherwise they just get bored.

Re:Sounds 'Too' Good? (1)

repapetilto (1219852) | about 3 years ago | (#35905066)

Yea, but what does any of that have to do with the merits of the game itself. It is equivalent to saying the brand name is successful now so therefore it will continue to be successful in the future. Sounds like basing business decisions on a fad to me.

Re:Sounds 'Too' Good? (4, Insightful)

Kelbear (870538) | about 3 years ago | (#35906352)

The problem with the statement is that they are metrics of success rather than potential.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/extra-credits/3006-Metrics [escapistmagazine.com]

Metrics are backward looking, not forward looking. They examine what worked, and help the developers polish existing mechanics to the hilt. That's exactly what happened with CoD. It's an incredibly polished franchise that's enjoying tremendous success as a result of iterative improvement since CoD4's innovative improvement.(And yes, CoD4 was an innovative and difficult first steps, putting persistent leveling into an asymmetrically balanced FPS was breaking new ground, and required clever design decisions that were not done in other games/genres that used leveling, such as BF2)

But metrics have limitations. They provide no information on ideas that are truly unique because if it really is a unique idea, there is no existing data. They cant have new ideas based on metrics. The most damning problem is that it fosters a risk-averse mindset, when they base all changes on metrics, and are suddenly confronted with the challenge of a new idea, they'll balk at the sudden lack of data because they're so used to having it.

So even though CoD is doing great, and they have metrics that continue to polish it, the metrics don't give them any assistance in keeping it /fresh/.

Sooner or later, the minor improvements won't be enough to hold onto an audience that's grown tired of the core game mechanics, and they'll need to do something groundbreaking again. It's been 3 games after CoD4, they should be worrying now while they're selling well, rather than wait for a future game to bomb and wonder what happened. Worse, what if they decide the future game shows that the franchise is burned out and discard it? They may never realize that it could have been revitalized for years to come if they just take a few risks with it...but the metrics of a failed sale will tell them to just ditch the franchise.

Re:Sounds 'Too' Good? (1)

Kattspya (994189) | about 3 years ago | (#35920376)

Ever heard of battlefield 2? I believe that was one of if not the first game with "persistent levelling". Not to the same degree as COD or the later Bad Company but there were a few years between the titles.

Re:Sounds 'Too' Good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35925188)

You might want to read the GP's post more carefully.

Re:Sounds 'Too' Good? (1)

Kattspya (994189) | more than 2 years ago | (#35927524)

That's the second reading fail I made in a single day. I need to stop reading things.

But I still don't get how you can call what COD did first steps if you're aware of BF2.

Re:Sounds 'Too' Good? (1)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 2 years ago | (#35938132)

The difference turns on a very fine point. BF2 had persistent gun unlocks first, but what CoD4 did was create a carrot stream with them.

BF2 was the first retail game to incorporate it (It was already around in earlier FPS games through server-specific mods, like the Warcraft mod for Counterstrike). However it wasn't part of the core gameplay, the game would largely remain the same if they were removed and only stock weapons were provided. BF2's big advancement was an excellent implementation of in-game stat tracking and comparison to your friends. Stats help stroke epeen and keep players playing longer.Unlocks were restricted to add-on purchases which meant that they had to be extraneous. Unlocks were also restricted only to the dedicated audience that played long enough to obtain them (a trivial task for hardcore gamers, but an eternity for the majority of consumers who only play casually for short periods of time).

CoD4 learned the value of epeen stroking through stat-tracking, but the big change in the CoD4 implementation was a primary focus on a carrot stream. They never want the player to be far from getting a new carrot. So rather taking weeks to make progress to the next reward, they could get a new reward within hours. Obviously big rewards can't be given constantly, so they're spaced out with sufficient interim rewards to keep the player from losing incentive in the long gap between the big rewards. The granularity of CoD4's reward system helped turn a decent multiplayer into the dominating force that it is now. Also, player feedback was increased by giving direct feedback on how their performance was feeding into their progress. Also, with the stream of rewards being expanded so dramatically, how do you balance the rewards so that they're meaningful without being overpowered? They applied the rewards with loadout swaps so that the player is growing in versatility rather than relative effectiveness. This allows for players at all levels to remain competitive with each other since the relative effectiveness level remains close. This balance wasn't handled quite as well in sequels due to heartbeat sensors reducing the lifespan of low level players, and ninja pro increasing the lifespan of higher level players, resulting in a much greater survival gap between low and high level players. The success of the loadout limitation shines through once again, because even though they didn't balance the sequels as well as CoD4, the loadout limitation keeps the survival gap from growing any larger than this, and the gap disappears over time as low level players unlock the core perks. These were the important decisions that CoD4 made in bringing persistent leveling to FPS multiplayer gaming.

That addictive carrot stream is now being adopted in many other modern games that feature multiplayer unlocks . They were the ones who not only understood how great it feels for a gamer to unlock a new "power", but also how to tie that feeling into the gameplay structure.

Re:Sounds 'Too' Good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35907522)

Back to 4chan friend

Re:Sounds 'Too' Good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35908208)

It's a fallacy to associate popular with good, especially when the only metrics provided are population statistics

Re:Sounds 'Too' Good? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#35906020)

Wow, they sure think highly of themselves

Well, to their credit, they did make the best games for the Atari 2600.

Re:Sounds 'Too' Good? (1)

MogNuts (97512) | about 3 years ago | (#35906084)

Read the memo again. It basically said "let's continue to make this franchise better, because that's why people buy it and what makes us money."

I think that's a great thing. They actually care! Shocker, I know (rolls eyes).

But it's true. BO MP was pretty damn fun and Treyarch did an outstanding job. I mean, I keep getting reminded of this. Have you actually played any other FPS MP's lately? See my other comment about how awful Crytek handles cheating and Homefront's terrible MP design. The others are just pretty crappy in comparison.

Is there a story here? (4, Insightful)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | about 3 years ago | (#35904924)

There really does not seem to be much that is newsworthy about this. Someone rightly asks the question whether this franchise could die off like their other one, but they are assured that it is still performing well but that they need to ensure that they keep improving the games.

Wow. Captain Obvious does it again!

Guitar Hero had a single, limited idea. There is just only so far that you can push the genre before getting ridiculous. The attempts to add things like a story mode to music games always fails, and since they offer additional songs as DLC then there is very little reason to upgrade to the next game.

There is much greater potential for COD, so it will have a much greater lifespan. And if they stop "milking the franchise" then what would they do instead? Another shooter, but with a different name? Let's face it, the gaming public don't seem to have lost their endless facination with shooting people in games. Sometimes publishers can be faulted for having little imagination by producing sequels, but this is one genre where it is the gaming public who are to blame.

Re:Is there a story here? (1)

DrXym (126579) | about 3 years ago | (#35905170)

Guitar Hero had a single, limited idea. There is just only so far that you can push the genre before getting ridiculous. The attempts to add things like a story mode to music games always fails, and since they offer additional songs as DLC then there is very little reason to upgrade to the next game.

The biggest limiter with GH (and Rock Band) is there are only so many good songs and bands. Once you exhaust the good songs and bands you really don't have anywhere else to go. Yeah they might tweak the game mechanics or toss in a story / quest mode, maybe throw out a "pro" controller, but basically at that point the game is up. And all the time the content providers get more greedy and demand more and more money for licensing their songs.

I expect almost by definition that COD has a better future. That said, I think it's as stuck in its own rut as Guitar Hero ever was. The game AI is laughably poor and it's just a glorified corridor shooter with lots of triggers, scripts and effects to distract you. Such things would be forgivable when the franchise launched but the core game is looking increasingly mouldy these days. It's also clear that the franchise is just a conveyor belt with DLC and monetization becoming more insidious with each subsequent release. So I wouldn't shed a tear if COD died or lost its crown to a more modern shooter.

Re:Is there a story here? (1)

N0Man74 (1620447) | about 3 years ago | (#35905546)

The biggest limiter with GH (and Rock Band) is there are only so many good songs and bands. Once you exhaust the good songs and bands you really don't have anywhere else to go.

Wow... if your musical exposure has been so small that you think that these games run the risk of running out of good songs and music, then I pity you.

With even with more than 2,000 songs in Rock Band franchise's library now, I think there are many players out there that would agree that there are vasts numbers of songs and artists that have been completely untapped. Only a small fraction of my favorite artists have even had a single song featured (and they have more than one good song)..

Re:Is there a story here? (2)

mordred99 (895063) | about 3 years ago | (#35905942)

While I would agree whole heartedly with you about the vast majority of songs which are out there being only a fraction of what could possibly be out there. There were multiple barriers to entry into the guitar player games. 1) The songs had to have no swearing, or the artist had to be willing to bleep out those obscenities (which lots wont). 2) the record label and artist have to agree to put their song in the game. 3) artists have to spend sometime with the programmers or at least their "resident artist" to get the guitar parts down so they can make it close to real. 4) the artists chosen had to be "rock" enough to be a good song, and had to have enough appeal to be almost pop. Notice how many "metal" tracks there are outside of guitar hero: metallica.

Again - this is not saying you are wrong - just adding to it.

Re:Is there a story here? (1)

hey! (33014) | about 3 years ago | (#35906380)

So true. I kept waiting for the "Django Reinhardt/Duke Ellington US Tour Edition".

Re:Is there a story here? (1)

DrXym (126579) | about 3 years ago | (#35907078)

Sure there are millions of songs and many of them are "good" but the ones with the most mainstream appeal have been released already. Those are the songs that people recognize and make them want to buy the game and play along to. The problem with Guitar Hero especially is it's mined out the mainstream and gone off pursuing a hardcore market which doesn't exist to the extent they hoped. Hence the poor sales, hence the reason the series got axed. Rock Band is a little more mainstream but still in danger of suffering the same fate. The reality is that most of the songs that would sell these games are done already.

Re:Is there a story here? (1)

churchtech (2028444) | about 3 years ago | (#35907796)

I completely disagree. There are whole genres that are pretty much untouched. Even in the realm of mainstream pop music, they really only have a small fraction of what's out there. While the game mechanics do limit what songs work in-game (without being stupid), I doubt they have even achieved 10% of the usable material. That being said, GH did go to the hardcore territory, and certain death.

Re:Is there a story here? (1)

Junta (36770) | about 3 years ago | (#35905230)

I would dare say a good rule of thumb is if you have a special large or complex controller that needs time to be dragged out or otherwise constantly impose on your living space, it's doomed to be a fad at best. Rock Band/Guitar Hero/Dance Dance Revolution/PowerPad/PowerGlove/Activator.... all of these either enjoyed a limited life or failed on the launchpad because they are just a big hassle to use even when they work exactly as promised. I would say *this* is the main risk factor, not the 'limited' gameplay. Truth be told, any game series can feel repetitive and like there is no where to go. It's just that the threshold for getting bored with something is considerably lower when you have to dig out crap every time you play or have to kick it out of the way for the next special thing.

Re:Is there a story here? (1)

N0Man74 (1620447) | about 3 years ago | (#35905608)

Well, I'd agree that it would be doomed to be a mainstream fad... however, these types of games still have the potential to be enjoyed by a niche market, just like there is a small avid community of gamers who are really into fighting games, and don't mind spending significant amounts of money on fairly bulky arcade sticks.

I still really enjoy the music games, especially the pro-modes offered in Rock Band 3, though the franchise certainly seems to have run out of steam in the mainstream.

Re:Is there a story here? (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | about 3 years ago | (#35906334)

Let's face it, the gaming public don't seem to have lost their endless facination with shooting people in games. Sometimes publishers can be faulted for having little imagination by producing sequels, but this is one genre where it is the gaming public who are to blame.

Protesting with your money can only go so far in the game industry where your choices are limited. Gamers generally will choose the better games, but so far their options are limited in the FPS genre, especially multiplayer. Don't forget, Call of Duty isn't popular anymore for its singleplayer story. Hell, I know people who don't even bother to play it. The multiplayer mode is what attracts so many people. As long as they keep introducing new features into each installment people will buy it. It's especially true when your friends also buy the games. You don't want to be playing a different game than your friends, and this is what drives sales.

I have to agree that I can't blame Activision. Not because I don't agree with them, but because I haven't expected anything else. Their MO seems to be buying out smaller successful franchises and milking them, i.e. Guitar Hero and COD. So until the next Infinity Ward releases a sleeper hit, people are stuck with what suits their needs: COD.

Shock as large corporation seeks to make profit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35904964)

How dare these people try and make money by providing a product consumers want to buy.

Marketing "Leak" (1)

satcomjimmy (1228562) | about 3 years ago | (#35905030)

This looks as much like a rebuttal of every CoD fan's outrage over Activision running Infinity Ward into the ground as I could have come up with. They "leaked" what appears to be answers to an interview that will never happen because the public already knows the answers. Activision has squandered their ability to pump out a quality CoD cash cow annually and they want fans to feel that is not the case. I'm not sold. Battlefield 3 trailers are out now that make it look like the new front runner.

Re:Marketing "Leak" (1)

penguinchris (1020961) | about 3 years ago | (#35905250)

Battlefield Bad Company 2 is already a much more interesting game for serious FPS players and is very popular, and I fully expect Battlefield 3 to be great. Not sure it will be the front-runner exactly, though - the two series attract slightly different crowds; COD games are less serious and attract a lot of teenagers. You don't get as many whiny 13-year-olds in Battlefield games.

I have fun with every COD game - I've been playing them since the original, which was revolutionary at the time - but the Battlefield series engages me more in multiplayer (I've also been playing those since the original, from Battlefield 1942 onward). There's only so much COD multiplayer one can take, but Battlefield remains interesting. Plus they've released map packs for free; I hate paid DLC. I paid for DLC maps once, for COD World At War, and felt ripped off - the new maps weren't that great - and decided to never do it again.

Re:Marketing "Leak" (1)

MogNuts (97512) | about 3 years ago | (#35906142)

BF3 probably will be awesome. BF:BC2 is incredible. But don't keep spreading that rhetoric. I'm getting sick of seeing it everywhere in comments. EA has gotten on everyone's good side for BF3 by saying things. But until I see the game, and see the things actually implemented, don't hold your breath. They could be making stuff up/lying just for PR purposes.

People, make your decision the month *after* BF3 is released, once the game is released and bugs are patched. And keep it mind from those trailers, that's the PC version. Playing on a i7 2600K with 8 GB RAM with dual-GPU's at 2500x1440 at 16X CSAA, and then even modified by whatever photo/video editor to look better.

If you get the console version, your game will look exactly the same as BF:BC2 on the console. End of story. There's no way it'll look any better.

Re:Marketing "Leak" (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 3 years ago | (#35906878)

EVERY battlefield game has been great and BF3 gets PC as the lead platform. I'm MORE then willing to give DICE the benefit of the doubt on BF3. The Frostbite engine in BFBC2 is sick so i can only imagine it getting better in BF3. O you were talking about consoles? Who cares, they are once again relegated to toy status. Consoles are a joke now, 720P OR LESS at 30 FPS just isnt going to cut it anymore.

Re:Marketing "Leak" (1)

MogNuts (97512) | about 3 years ago | (#35908626)

I can't comment on the rest of the games. I came late to the party not having played any prior BF games. BF:BC2 was awesome. However, BC1 did not have much of what BC2 put in, so I've researched. It was put in as competition to MW2 deficiencies most likely (e.g. dedicated servers). So BC2 was a proper release; BC1 wasn't.

And I'm totally with you on the PC debate. PC's deliver superior everything. However, consoles MUST be considered. And here's why:


Cheating is so rampant on the PC MP scene it's pathetic. Every time I fire up ANY game, it's just atrocious. I played MoH reboot the other day. I kept getting instantly killed in an open area that is atop a lower area but with wide open vistas. Kept getting killed. Nevermind you that I couldn't see anyone from higher points or equal points, and no one from below could shoot/see me. One would say a sniper got you, correct? Wrong. I kept getting killed by a guy with a carbine. A short range SMG. Please.

A console provides this: cheating protection. It doesn't eliminate them forever. Because that's impossible. But the fact that say XBL or PSN has a team of people dedicated to monitoring cheating is a godsend. Yes with the PC you have server admins. But some server admins suck. Some are just ok. Some don't have the time. Cheating enforcement is spotty at best. Some are good, some are bad. It's done as a hobby. Consoles OTOH provide a dedicated staff paid to do it 24x7. Ever hear that interview recently at one of the conferences from the guy that runs XBL cheat protection dept.? Fascinating.

Also, it's a blessing and a curse. MP on BF:BC2 looks amazing on my PC on full details. But a) my CPU is aging and I'm noticing it can't handle full 32 player servers (nothing noticeable for casual play, but for serious play it is a problem sometimes. But I can't justify buying a new CPU for just 1 game. And b) to see anything I need to turn off shadows and effects to be competitive. Ever do a mortar strike with full effects turned on? You can't see shit. Turn down details and you're fine. On a console, while it may be inferior, I do get more of the experience from the effects, and *everyone* has to use them. So even me, a pro-PC player, would for just online MP play on consoles, is a valid concern.

So in the end, you can't discount console MP play.

Re:Marketing "Leak" (1)

satcomjimmy (1228562) | about 3 years ago | (#35922872)

I'm basing it on my enjoyment of BC2, hopefully the same basic engine and new maps. It's the only Battlefield I've played and I still switch to it when CoD gets on my nerves. I hope they tweak it, but I am fully aware that a PC is the only way to get those graphics. The graphics are as good as I need, I'd rather them free up more system resources to get more chumps on the screen to shoot at anyway.

Re:Marketing "Leak" (1)

MogNuts (97512) | more than 2 years ago | (#35929640)

Oh don't get my wrong. BF:BC2 IMHO is the best FPS MP game out right now. It's an amazing game. I agree wholeheartedly about BC2.

I'm just saying is that it's blatantly obvious that EA and DICE know exactly what to say to turn on the internet PR, and are just saying stuff and making crap up. It's been done by many companies before--it's just this time it's so obvious and people are actually falling for it.

Though all this said, I think after the next few shooters, I'm not buying anymore MP FPS's for the consoles. I'm tired of the graphics on the consoles. You can't play them on PC (massive cheaters), but seeing, BC2 for example, on the PC at 1920x1080 at 8x MSAA with full particle effects, then going back to either BO or BC2 just ruins it. BO looks like I'm playing a fisher price game in comparison.

Activision and Innovation? (2)

drej (1663541) | about 3 years ago | (#35905070)

Where's the innovation? First they copy Guitar Freaks and milk this new franchise dry, then they keep releasing Call of Duty games that basically only differ in their titles. Where does Activision deserve credit for anything besides overstaying their welcome?

Re:Activision and Innovation? (1)

moriya (195881) | about 3 years ago | (#35905298)

You can give 'em credit for driving away several Infinity Ward members out of the company.

But innovation is far from what Activision or anything that they have in their iron grip has. Call of Duty has done nothing more than turn itself into yet another year game churned out by the likes of EA. It's basically Madden NFL but for shooters. Innovate? Pffft!

Anyone who has been playing FPS long enough would know that CoD has gone downhill since 4 and World at War. MW2 was an overhyped gorilla that had hordes of morons blindly lining up for a game that added only a couple of things to the underlying engine. Treyarch, now famous for hand-me-downs, took that and added a couple of more things to it, but still did nothing to differentiate itself. There's no innovation involved for anyone tinkering with the CoD franchise now. It's the same shit over and over again, with only a few things changed since the last one.

EA is no different either. How many stinking Need for Speed games do they have under their belt? Each one minorly different from the last one. And that Hot Pursuit reboot by Criterion, the same developers behind Burnout? Utter console port crap with hardly anything worthwhile to truly differentiate itself from the crowd.

Everything that could have made a major impact in differentiating itself from the crowd has been put on the back burner. There's no innovation involved when sequels churned out end up being 90% like the previous game. And FYI, I speak as a PC player.

Re:Activision and Innovation? (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 3 years ago | (#35907086)

You want a perfect description of what is wrong with the modern COD just watch Yahtzee's take [escapistmagazine.com] on Black ops. Yes I know he is a smartass Brit, but sometimes a smartass Brit is what you need. I have to agree that "hooked to an IV of pop rocks" is a good description. You have to build tension, and having shit blowing up every 2.6 seconds doesn't really do that, at least for me.

But then again I'm probably not in the marketing demographic, as I have NO desire to run around like a loonie in MP knifing people.

"Music Genre" nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35905128)

Imagine what would happen if the Valve shat out a dozen mediocre portal-based puzzle games in the span of a few years. Oh no! The Portal genre has collapsed!

Re:"Music Genre" nonsense (1)

Obyron (615547) | about 3 years ago | (#35907270)

Then the execs would claim it was "a new genre that didn't stand the test of time," rather than saying, "it was a fragile new idea that we raped over and over until it could only sit in a corner; clutching its knees in catatonic horror and soiling itself. Next please." The fans didn't abandon music games. Companies like Activision took the fans for fools and pumped out overpriced garbage.

How To Read the Memos to Get Something Out Of Them (1)

Crash Culligan (227354) | about 3 years ago | (#35905184)

All right, let's see. "Entrenched", "sales", "player engagement" those line up well, we're off to a good start. "Hours of _____" isn't even on the board, while "online play" is, and that looks promising. "DLC" doesn't help any. "Quality" and its variations isn't on the grid, but perhaps it should be. Oh, good, "innovation" and "curve" are both there in good places. "Services" isn't on the grid either, but "community" is, and —ooh, hang on!

"Sales", "player engagement", "online play", "innovation", and "staying power!" Yes! BINGO! What do I win?

"...makes our fans never want to leave..." (3, Interesting)

Onuma (947856) | about 3 years ago | (#35905190)

CounterStrike (and CS:S) is still one of the most popular shooters in the world. It also has, to this day, a large competitive scene.

What did the original developers of CS, and eventually Valve, do to make it such a long standing success? It was a FREE mod to anyone who owned Half-Life, and even when it went gold you could still download freely. Despite it being free, it sold 4+ million copies! Likewise with CS:S to anyone who owned HL2, this still sold 2+ million copies. You can still hop on either game and find tens of thousands of people playing on thousands of servers. While the later releases of the CoD series (COD4 and beyond, we'll say for our purposes) may have more users consistently playing, they're also not over 11 years old!

Personally, I'm hoping that http://www.firefallthegame.com/ [firefallthegame.com] , which will be FREE as well, also has the competitive nature and staying power of CS. Got to play it against the developers at PAX East '11 (they kicked the crap out of our group, btw -- all very solid players), and it's a nicely paced shooter which flows very well. Scott Youngblood (of Starsiege: Tribes) is the lead designer, and many of the devs come from the competitive shooter world; Quake, CS, Tribes, etc. They're all down to earth guys, but they also have the desire and drive to make a game for gamers, by gamers. Not this "Rehashing the same old bullshit", Activision-style.

Making money should be the byproduct of a great game, not the reverse. COD4 had the right formula, but Activision milked it so hard and alienated the PC gaming community. That's a LOT of business they've lost out on.

Re:"...makes our fans never want to leave..." (1)

penguinchris (1020961) | about 3 years ago | (#35905292)

I think you managed to slashdot the firefall server with your comment, which is impressive; considering no one read TFA it's amazing anyone clicks links in comments.

Just as a note, though, Counter Strike Source was never free to HL2 owners. Also, finding good counter strike servers is not as easy as you claim. If you want a server that only runs the dust2 map and all kinds of ridiculous server mods, sure, you'll find one. If you want a well-run server with lots of maps like in the old days, with lots of server regulars, you'll be looking for quite a while.

Re:"...makes our fans never want to leave..." (1)

Onuma (947856) | about 3 years ago | (#35907474)

For some people, CS:S was free. I distinctly recall not paying for it, but always having full access to it (since around 2004-ish, when it was released).

Agreed about finding your target servers. You can still find a ton of CS GunGame servers, which is a fun change of pace.

I think the FireFall servers may have been experiencing an issue anyway - I wasn't able to get onto the forums yesterday afternoon. They're undergoing major overhauls and updates, so you never know when the servers will need to be taken offline for a patch, etc.

Re:"...makes our fans never want to leave..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35905346)

There are those who make games based on "target group studies" and "profit-maximized market penetration".
And there are those who make a game based on passions they have and impressions they want to convey.

The first ones will make games that everybody finds "OK", but nobody actually thinks are really good. To get people to buy them anyway, the marketing hype lasts just long enough to make the planned profit. If you have bought them, the motto is essentially to go fuck yourself. (They correctly assume from elections, that people will not care for former evilness when hyped for the next round.)

The second ones will make games that resonate with and move people. Not all of them, but those that have a similar character or life in the aspects conveyed in the game. So some will love it, some will hate it, and with some it will not resonate at all.
Those game developers are cultural leaders. Their games are art. (In fact the mother of all art, education and sports. [I didn't say they were couch potato games. :]) And they will last a looong time.

While the former... aren't anything, and hence won't last.

Bad comparison (2)

lyinhart (1352173) | about 3 years ago | (#35905214)

Sigh. GamePro. Why the heck are they comparing TV shows and movies to video game sequels? You'd be better off comparing them to sports. Year after year, we get the same sport, same rules, just shuffling the faces around and maybe changing the rules now and then. But that doesn't stop people from watching or playing them nor does it stop the games from being interesting. No, what's important in sports, like in video games is that you get some good competition and entertainment out of playing/watching them. You go in expecting a unique, fun experience when you play a sport or a video game, and from that you derive the entertainment value.

I don't care if they release tons of Call of Duty games, as long as they're good. The problem with Guitar Hero wasn't the fact that they oversaturated the market, but because people got tired of it. Like Dance Dance Revolution before it. Like the Wii a few years after it was released. They cater to the "casual" gamer, who won't necessarily buy every new interation of a game and who will only play once in a while. Call of Duty is definitely different in that it ropes in the so-called "hardcore" crowd, the folks who will buy a game on launch day and are long time, repeat customers who play regularly. The only question is whether Activision can keep the quality level up and satisfy these gamers who have so many other games to play (Gears 3 is coming out, so is Rage and Duke 4) . And of that, I'm not entirely certain....

Bullshit talk (2)

Tei (520358) | about 3 years ago | (#35905252)

"raise the quality bar; on staying ahead of the innovation curve;"

Call of Duty is a movielike experience in singleplayer, followed by a few maps and a quake3 like FPS. Theres nothing innovative in that, is a "blockbuster" formula, just that, a formula. Theres almost zero innovation in the game, other than the basic mechanics that are already done. Really this talk has not much to do with CoD at all. Is bullshit. But a executive talking bullshit is not new. These people are leechers that get the benefict from the work from the people under him withouth adding nothing.

Re:Bullshit talk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35905734)

Quake 3 like FPS? You have no idea how much of an insult that is to quake players - do you?

Re:Bullshit talk (1)

MogNuts (97512) | about 3 years ago | (#35905946)

I completely disagree. And I think you're wrong. In the end though, it doesn't matter what we say. CoD:BO made over $1 *billion* dollars. Just because you or someone else doesn't made it bad. But I want to move on to my point.

To precede, ALL videogames are just slight modifications to a formula. For example, I just don't find 3D platformers interesting anymore. Been there, done that. Played Donkey Kong Country 64, ad nauseum. Everyone said Psychonauts was an amazing game. Yes, it had great story. But when it got down to it, the main crux of the game was boring. Why? Because save for the story, it was the exact same thing that I was bored of because it was done a million times before with DKC64, Crash Bandicoot, Mario 64, etc. CoD:BO introduced an entirely new "leveling" mechanic in the form of CoD points. They finally stopped noob-toobers. They finally stopped ridiculous quick scoping and overpowered sniping. What other shooter do you know did that?

In addition, everyone seems to rag on the game. In the past 6 months I got into MP FPS. I'm hooked. I got BO. You know what? THE GAME WAS FUN. Isn't that all that matters. Bitch and moan, all you people do. The game was actually fun. NOT only that, but have you played any other shooter lately? They're terrible. The reason CoD is selling like crazy because they *do a good job.* I played Homefront the other day. They make spawn points in the same exact spot for the same person. Brilliant! So I had a guy just camp by the spawn area and *every* time I respawned I was instantly killed. Yea, CoD is so much worse (read:sarcasm). Or the cheating. I can't get over how much cheating is in Crysis 2. Again, the reason CoD is so much fun and is on top is because they actually *continue to support MP.* Crytek says they'll make a patch that will stop cheating forever (I forget the exact quote). But Treyarch actually supports MP continuously. Look at the fact that 5 months later they refined it again so the AK-74U was balanced. At this point any other developer besides Treyarch or DICE would have dumped support. THIS is why CoD is successful.

I think you are very wrong. And yes we're gonna see a ton of comments because /. is pretty much all semi-informed commenters playing armchair quarterback. But the main thing is, take a step back, think, and realize that the game for me, and the other people who gave the game $1 billion, is just play fun to play. End of story.

Re:Bullshit talk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35906248)

You just proved the OP's point.

You busted your online cherry within the past 6 months and it is exciting, wonderful! Enjoy the glitter while it lasts. However, I can tell you as someone that has been playing online games since DWANGO that there has been nothing innovative about CoD since the first two games and even then it was hardly innovative it wa still just a WWII shooter like the many others that were on the market at the time. Since then it has been nothing more of ideas taken from other games, some free, some paid and milking it for all that it is worth. The company adds incremental changes to the game (stuff that would be a FREE patch or FREE community created content in the old days), and calls it a new game.

The OP is speaking about COD just like you are speaking about your 3D platformer experience.

Though CoD games made use of the Quake3 engine, CoD is nothing like Quake 3... Quake 3 is much, much faster.

Re:Bullshit talk (1)

MogNuts (97512) | about 3 years ago | (#35909144)

Interesting point. But it's inaccurate--because I've been doing FPS MP since you were. Dwango on Doom1. Rockin the 2400 baud modem. Then Quake 1 and 2 LAN parties. Great stuff btw. :) I just took a long hiatus. But the point stands. I'm not new to MP or even FPS MP, and the game is still plain fun as hell.

Also, Treyarch just released mod tools for COD BO. So you can't count knock that either in your argument btw.

And I did not know that the recent COD used the Quake 3 engine? Are you sure? Because I can run Q3 fine but I can't run MW1 on my PC at max settings.

Re:Bullshit talk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35906546)

MogNutz, you're actually wrong, and possibly right at the same time.

Tei is looking at it purely from a single player perspective. You appear to be describing it largely from a multi-player perspective. There is a world of difference for many players.

I don't know about his ending statements, but Tei appears to be correct.I haven't played the latest COD games, the ones I did play were relatively simple in terms of technical innovation and had more focus on putting the player in a story and set of situations than providing any real new gaming concepts. You're also mistaking fine tuning for innovation. They are not really the same thing.

As far as it goes for multi-player quality, I can't comment. I lost most interest in multi-player FPS half a decade ago.

Re:Bullshit talk (1)

MogNuts (97512) | about 3 years ago | (#35908964)

Good post. I found what you said very interesting.

I can't comment on COD SP. I thought MW1 SP was terrible, despite every reviewer saying is was amazing. So I never bought the rest for SP.

The thing is, I don't think you can argue COD without MP. COD *is* MP. To separate SP from MP in COD is impossible.

I do disagree with you, however, on the fine tuning part. See my other post on Psychonauts elsewhere in this post. I can't imagine much else to put into FPS MP. If anything, COD points was very novel. It totally changed the shooter mechanics and made it easier for newer players to play vs. better ones and affected how you advance your character and everything else. It's like adding co-op to a SP game. It changes the entire dynamic. Not only that, but for the first time snipers and campers were severely toned down from the usual unfair advantage. I've never seen another shooter manage that. Also don't forget that BF BC2 uses the leveling and attachment mechanic. 50% of its core mechanic is the same as COD. But no one harps on BC2 for being unoriginal and rehashed.

Just some things to think about.

The Best Franchises Are Always Overlooked... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 3 years ago | (#35905308)

Activision, like so many others, is milking the hell out of subpar franchises while the best and most promising end up neglected with minimal attention and generally no sequels.

Personally, I'm still waiting for a sequel to ET. I want to fall into wells in high def.

Yes, CoD is GH (1)

Rotag_FU (2039670) | about 3 years ago | (#35905334)

My take is that exec A (the CoD is approx. Guitar Hero exec) has valid concerns. My reasoning is that Activision is doing the similar things with it that they did with GH: 1) They are milking the franchise for all its worth by doing annualized releases, whether or not they are really ready or called for. Admittedly towards the end the milking of GH was even worse with an annual major release and then multiple mini releases (GH: Metallica, GH: Barbershop, GH: My kid's 5th grade chorus). Although, I think some of that may already be beginning for CoD. Even if they stick to annual releases, I'm not convinced that people will continue to want CoD that frequently. 2) The highly touted "innovation" is coming at decreasing pace. I'm not going to knock that CoD:BO had some innovation nor deny that they have been more responsive about "fixing" multiplayer. Just that if you think about the biggest recent innovation, that came out with CoD4:MW and most things have been incremental improvements at best since then. That isn't to say that incremental improvements won't sell (see Madden), just that eventually people will have to take a long hard look as to whether the next shiny is really that much different than the current shiny. At some point, people will start deciding it isn't and then things will go to hell for their sales. Right now I think CoD is coasting on its own inertia. Everyone "has" to buy the next CoD because that is the game that "everyone" will be playing. Once, people decide that Game Z (Battlefield 3?) is much more shiny and interesting, I think there will be a rapid exodus that will take Activision by surprise.

Seating Change? (1)

kiehlster (844523) | about 3 years ago | (#35905348)

This sounds like "I don't want to lose my cushy job" glitterspeak. The only potential I could gather out of this franchise is if every other player stops making war games, which will never happen. Maybe they have a competitive game engine, but unless CoD is orgasmic, its potential will still be limited. Unlike Activision's dairy farming, companies like Valve shine like a vineyard harvested at its peak. I just hope they don't turn their Diablo and Starcraft franchises into dairy farms like WoW.

Boring.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35905466)

CoD is not innovative at all, been there done that 10 years ago. It's just become the defacto first-person shooter game. But those are a dime a dozen.

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Battlefield 3 on the horizon (1)

PPalmgren (1009823) | about 3 years ago | (#35907020)

Sounds to me like they're getting a little concerned about Battlefield 3. It really does have the potential to tank CoD if done right.

Wow... (2)

FFOMelchior (979131) | about 3 years ago | (#35907028)

"Activision doesn’t always seem to get the credit it deserves in terms of innovation in my opinion"

We're talking about the same Activision that bought the Guitar Hero franchise, released an exceptionally crappy Guitar Hero 3, then added the full band concept into part 4 after Harmonix (the original creators of Guitar Hero) released Rock Band and made it popular? Oh, and then Band Hero, lol.

But they already did run it into the ground. (1)

phirewind (531662) | about 3 years ago | (#35907050)

Too bad for Activision that they already lost the talent involved in making CoD a great franchise. After Activition withheld millions and millions of dollars of royalties, then fired Zampanella and West for trying to do something about it, Infinity Ward was reduced to basically an empty shell. Many of its former employees now work for Zampanella and West again at Respawn Entertainment building a new franchise, and I can't wait to see what they make for us.

Since when is the music genre dead? (1)

Princeofcups (150855) | about 3 years ago | (#35907512)

Guitar Hero is on hold, sure, but Activision is planning a new game in 2012/13. RockBand by Harmonix is still going strong, albeit not as strong as 3 years ago. They continue to release DLC, and they are selling compatible Fender guitars (yes, real guitars with strings and everything) faster than they can make them to use in the game. Not only that, there are two new guitar training games that just came out and are selling pretty well.

So this dead music genre is news to me. No longer the biggest fad, but far from dead.

They need writers (1)

nilbog (732352) | about 3 years ago | (#35908066)

I think they need a big name behind the game. Grab writers and a director from Hollywood to do the story. The gameplay they've already pretty much got nailed down, but imagine if they had some big name writers and directors behind the next COD. That's where they can innovate and continue to blur the lines between video game and movie.

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