The Future of Call of Duty
Josiah Motley | On 21, Mar 2013
Players cannot argue the fact that the Call of Duty franchise is one of, if not the most, successful video game series of all time. Currently in it’s ninth iteration with Call of Duty: Black Ops II, sales have continued to rise with each new release; but for how long can Activision continue this trend?
While there is no denying the growth in popularity and sales of the <em”>Call of Duty series, you will rarely find long time fans saying their favorite game of the series is the latest. More often than not, fans will reminisce about previous versions being their favorite. You could argue this is simply people longing for the past and having a bad case of nostalgia but it still needs to be taken into account.
One thing’s for certain: If Activision — and developers Infinity Ward and Treyarch — plan on continuing this series for the foreseeable future, they should keep some things in mind:
Be innovative: Activision has to continue to push the genre if they are to remain on top and continue to drive sales farther and higher than the previous release.
They cannot limit innovation to simply adding more features. Everything will need to constantly be updated and improved on. Whether it’s ground level coding, social integrations or the latest box art, Call of Duty will have to continue to build upon their groundbreaking series. Players do not want simple rehashes of past successes.
Stick to your roots: This can also be referred to as “Do not try to be Battlefield.” This is Call of Duty afterall, the number one selling shooter series of all time. The developers cannot forget what got them there; a solid first person shooter that relies on a strong, exciting campaign mode and intense player-to-player combat. These things will have to remain the focus if Activision plans to continue its domination on the market.
Do not rely on bells and whistles to entice new and old players. As the series has progressed, one can start to see that in certain aspects of the game. A noticeable example is in Call of Duty’s kill streak features. The first Modern Warfare offered three basic kills streaks and with each new iteration more and more killstreaks have been added. Options are nice and killstreaks are a staple of the series, but everything in moderation. Black Ops II has done a good job with managing this, giving players multiple options but not making matches rely on them. Hopefully, Infinity Ward and all future iterations, will continue this trend.
Solid Online Gameplay: Whether developers of the series care to admit it or not, online multiplayer is Call of Duty’s biggest selling point. Millions of gamers hop online each week to try and oust their competition on the virtual battlefield. As the series progresses, you can see more and more emphasis on online competition, from both the Modern Warfare series and Black Ops series. If Activision plans to continue this franchise, heavy emphasis will still need to be put on competitive online multiplayer. Black Ops II is helping pave the way for this with things like League Play and the enhanced spectator mode for local and national tournaments. Activision should not however, rest on their laurels. Drive people to want to compete. Give the players incentives to compete in things like League Play.
Another important aspect of a solid online gameplay experience are issues like lag compensation and people that hack the games. An online shooter is only as good as its programming and if players continue to feel “cheated” from kills or killed by a “modder” (someone that hacks the game for personal advantage) you will see hardcore players looking for other outlets to show off their online competitive prowess. Players would argue earlier games in the series, while more vanilla without all the bells and whistles, were a more pure experience. Yes, there were lag issues, you can’t wipe them out completely, but you did not see the same issues as you do now. Granted, the game’s popularity is rising exponentially and this obviously has to be taken into account. Solid online gameplay should continue to be priority number one.
Engrossing Story Mode: Do not forget about the story. Yes, believe it or not there are still people out there that care about the campaign mode when dealing with the Call of Duty franchise.
Until Modern Warfare 3 it still seemed that the main selling point of Call of Duty was the campaign mode. Large numbers of players waited patiently each year for the next part of their favorite stories to be revealed. While there is still a campaign mode available, there is no arguing that the emphasis has now been put on multiplayer and story has taken a backseat. Do not present your campaign mode and only give players a six-hour story. That will not cut it for much longer.
While a couple of these points might come across as contradictory, maintaining the number one series of all time will be no easy feat. Every little factor will play a role in that success and every gamer will need to feel catered to. Call of Duty has managed to capture the imagination of players through its engrossing story and will have to continue that trend. The series has also captured the spirit of online competitive multiplayer and has become a staple of the series. A strong multiplayer foundation and an emphasis on eSports will have to continue to be pushed and innovated if the series is to survive into the next generation of consoles.
What do you think? Is the Call of Duty series on the way out? Or is it going to continue to thrive based on its namesake alone? We want to hear your opinions!