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Infinity Ward Guys Vs. Activision... Fight! Ian's avatar
I almost used Bobby Koticks face here instead of the logo. Consider yourself lucky.
Following the events from weird Monday have been a fun activity this week. Portal received yet another update which altered the ending, watch it here if you can't be bothered to play through Portal again. The biggest news though is around Activision, who announced what their plans were for the future of the Call of Duty franchise. I guess Infinity Ward's attempt to re-brand it as the "Modern Warfare" are probably over now as Actvision have brought in a third studio to work on Call of Duty games.

Here is a summary of what they announced via press release (see source):
  • Treyarch are working on 2010's Call of Duty games as expected, to be release "this fall" which is secret code for November.
  • Infinity Ward are working on the "first two" downloadable map packs for Modern Warfare 2. This seems like there will be more than two, but Infinity Ward might not be working on any packs past the second.
  • Activision are starting a Call of Duty specific business unit to manage the series with the same focus as seen in the Blizzard Entertainment business unit. They'll focus on high-margin digital content, bringing the series to new genres and using new business models. This sounds like the subscription based Call of Duty that has been rumored for the past few months.
  • Sledgehammer Games, which is headed by people who previously worked for EA on Dead Space, will be working on some sort of "Action-Adventure" Call of Duty game.
Now confirmed fired Infinity Ward guys Jason West and Vince Zampella are wasting no time fighting back against Activision with lawyers. They claim that Activision chose to fire them instead of paying them substantial royalty payments for the success of Modern Warfare 2. They go on to claim that Activision hired lawyers to conduct an investigation of them, and eventually fired them for insubordination, but failed to inform them what they have insubordinatious about. However this ends up getting resolved, you can bet it'll be as public as possible as West and Zampella will likely want Activision to look like the bad guys throughout all of this, something which is definitely needed when attempting to take on giant companies.

Editor Opinions
Ian's avatar

I can't help but feel that Activision is getting a bit greedy here. Not content with releasing the biggest entertainment product in history, they are determined to milk the franchise dry as speedily as possible.The plan as laid out for the franchise is eerily similar to the plan that led to the current state of the Tony Hawk and Whatever Hero franchises. I personally think that alternating between Treyarch and Infinity Ward developed games would have been sustainable left as it was, with having an extremely high quality game hitting every two years, and a decent one in the off years to capitalise on it.

With a third team releasing CoD games, it seems unlikely that they'll switch to three year dev cycles, so just going on that alone it'll mean we'll be getting more than one CoD game a year. On top of that, it seems they'll be trying to make us pay subscriptions, and continuously buy map packs to keep up. I'm not sure as many people as they think would be willing to pay a subscription fee for the current multiplayer service. It can't even cost them all that much to run currently, as all the game hosting is done using peer to peer, so all you are really getting is a player matching service which is certainly not worth a fee.

If the games were hosted on real servers then maybe they might be slightly easier to justify a price, not that other games like Mag charge for their servers. I think the game would have to be a changed significantly before a fee could be justified, as it's not like it doesn't work as it is. With server hosted games you could potentially increase the player count, but I don't tend to like the higher player count matches as it just sort of descends into chaos and causes more random unavoidable death with each additional player on the field.

I'm not sure what an action-adventure Call of Duty game would even be . The term action-adventure is incredibly vague but usually associated with games like the 3d Zelda games or the God of War series. At a pinch it could be used to describe Uncharted but that's really more of a third person shooter with traversal elements if you ask me. Some sort of Uncharted-like game does seem most likely, especially considering that there was that bad third person mode in MW2.

I think the next big piece of news for me will be the nature of Treyarch's 2010 game. It'll be the first Treyarch developed game that started development after CoD4 was a huge success, so will likely in my opinion not to be a world war 2 themed game this time. People have been suggesting Vietnam as a potential setting, but that doesn't sound too appealing to me. Part of the fun of the Modern Warfare series so far is that it's fictional so you have no idea what's going to happen. A Vietnam game wouldn't leave much scope for all the craziness and twists that the series has come to be known for. That was part of the problem with World at War, you know how it ends. Hey spoilers, you storm the Reichstag building and win the war at the end of that game...