Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Games

Leaked Activision Memos Compare CoD, Guitar Hero 101

Posted by Soulskill
from the rehashing-innovation dept.
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.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Leaked Activision Memos Compare CoD, Guitar Hero

Comments Filter:
  • They stopped milking everything they own dry. Makes you wonder how long they can stay in business like that!
    • by Nocturna81 (1427457) on Friday April 22, 2011 @06:46AM (#35904900) Homepage
      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)
    • by somersault (912633) on Friday April 22, 2011 @06:58AM (#35904936) Homepage Journal

      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.

      • by x*yy*x (2058140)
        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.
        • by Moryath (553296) on Friday April 22, 2011 @07:52AM (#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.

          • 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 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 (Score:5, Interesting)

              by keytoe (91531) on Friday April 22, 2011 @02:26PM (#35908550) Homepage

              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.

              • by Dutch Gun (899105)

                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 accep

                • by keytoe (91531)

                  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 doe

          • by Stregano (1285764)
            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
        • 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).

          • 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 gam

            • by MogNuts (97512)

              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 noth

              • 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.

                • by MogNuts (97512)

                  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 Homef

                  • 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.

            • 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.
          • (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 ha

            • 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 witho

      • 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
      • by Beardydog (716221)
        Also...

        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
        SUITES
        OF
        FUCKING
        SERVICES.
    • by russotto (537200)

      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? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Friday April 22, 2011 @06:51AM (#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?

    • by Mindcontrolled (1388007) on Friday April 22, 2011 @06:57AM (#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.
    • by Sibko (1036168) on Friday April 22, 2011 @07:07AM (#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!"

      • 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,

      • 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.

      • by Kelbear (870538) on Friday April 22, 2011 @10:32AM (#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.

        • by Kattspya (994189)

          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.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      Wow, they sure think highly of themselves

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

    • by MogNuts (97512)

      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 p

  • by Gadget_Guy (627405) * on Friday April 22, 2011 @06:55AM (#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.

    • by DrXym (126579)

      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 s

      • by N0Man74 (1620447)

        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)..

        • by mordred99 (895063)
          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 arti
        • by hey! (33014)

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

        • by DrXym (126579)
          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 su
          • 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.
    • by Junta (36770)

      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' game

      • by N0Man74 (1620447)

        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.

    • 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 especiall

  • I dont think the franchise will last too much longer if this comes to fruition.
  • 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.
    • 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 Battlef

    • by MogNuts (97512)

      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

      • 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.
        • by MogNuts (97512)

          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:

          Cheaters.

          Cheating is so rampant on the PC MP scene it's pat

      • 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.
        • by MogNuts (97512)

          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 conso

  • Seriously, it sounds like PR material.
  • 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?
    • by moriya (195881)

      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

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        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.

  • ...or were they... set loose?

  • 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

  • by Onuma (947856) on Friday April 22, 2011 @07:55AM (#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.
    • 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 ser

      • by Onuma (947856)
        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
  • by lyinhart (1352173) on Friday April 22, 2011 @08:01AM (#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....
  • by Tei (520358) on Friday April 22, 2011 @08:09AM (#35905252) Journal

    "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.

    • by MogNuts (97512)

      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 i

  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • "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.
  • 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.
  • 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, bu

  • 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.

Real programmers don't write in BASIC. Actually, no programmers write in BASIC after reaching puberty.

Working...