Activision and the One Trick Pony | Musings of an Angry Gamer
It's without argument and valid doubt that Activision has created a franchise that's most likely one of if not the most renowned and argued-about franchises in the gaming industry. With such, there's always going to be a civil war between gamers; those who blindly praise the game and refuse to, and possibly cannot whatsoever realize the facts about the franchise and those who oppose it entirely. We mustn't forget the stragglers scattered about who make up either the neutral party or represent the gamers that just don't give a damn and play what they want to, for any and every reason.
Activision first introduced us to the Call of Duty games back in 2003, almost a decade ago, where gamers virtually embodied American soldier, Private Joey Martin; British soldier, Sergeant Jack Evans; and Soviet soldier, Private Alexei Ivanovich Voronin. The game was generally well received by critics, with ratings ranging from average to superb. The game received several Game of the Year awards and was nominated for Best Game at the 2004 Game Developer Choice awards. IGN reviewer Dan Adams spoke positively about the game, saying "You have to love a game that glues you to your seat and keeps you interested... A thrilling piece of software that action fans should grab a hold of and love fiercely."
As years passed, we were introduced to several subsequent sequels that offered "different" experiences in the same war (World War II) which was honestly just rehashes of the predecessor with an altered spin on the setting. Four years later, after the WW2 horse was beaten to death, Activision released Modern Warfare, the first game in the franchise to not revolve around the World War 2 setting, and instead feature an original experience involving a Russian ultra-nationalist with plans to profit from nuclear proliferation and mask his motives through a distraction in the Middle East by way of a coup d'état on the president of the unnamed Middle Eastern country.
However, it wasn't the story or the campaign gameplay that made Modern Warfare the success it was...or is, rather, as records show that about 20k+ people still actively play the game; it was the online multiplayer (the component that waves in the 20k+ active gamers giving it attention to this day.)
Modern Warfare features team-based and deathmatch-based multiplayer modes on various maps/locations. Each mode has an objective that claims to require unique strategies to complete. Players can call in UAV reconnaissance scans, air strikes, and attack helicopters, when they achieve three-, five-, and seven-enemy kill streaks respectively. A game ends when either a team or player has reached a predefined number of points, or the allotted time expires in which case the team or player with the most points wins. If the points are even when the time expires, Sudden Death mode is activated in which there is no re-spawning and the team who either has the last man standing, or achieves the objective first are the winners. If the player is in either of the two matches, then there is an Overtime match, in which the next team to win is rewarded the victory.
The player's performance in the multiplayer mode is tracked with experience points, which can be earned by killing opposing players, completing challenges, completing objectives, or by completing a round or match. As the player gains experience, they advance in level, unlocking new weapons, perks, challenges, and gameplay modes. The highest obtainable level is 55, but on the console versions of the game, the player has the option to enter "Prestige" mode, which returns their level to one and removes all accumulated unlockables. This process can be repeated up to 10 times with a different insignia being given each time.
It was the success and positive feedback of the online multiplayer that set in motion the redundant recycling by Activision to keep their subsequent Call of Duty games on the billboards. It's this redundancy that grinds my gears; Activision doesn't do a single thing noticeably differently in any new instalment to the franchise, yet gamers line up outside of game stores to throw money at the company at the time of release. It's obvious that in today's light, there is a slim to almost non-existent number of gamers who purchase any Call of Duty game for anything other than the online multiplayer feature, which isn't what gaming should be about.
What Activision needs to do is take notes from what the Valve Corporation does with their Counter-Strike games and turn Call of Duty into a single game with a single purpose: online multiplayer. It would, without a doubt, be one of the, if the only wise move they've ever made when it came to marketing and create a single game that revolves around the aspect of competitive online gameplay, and occasionally update the game to include new features, including killstreaks and their rewards, insignias, weapons, attachments, and what-have-you. Logically, it would without a doubt be a commercial success. On the note of consumerism, gamers can finally be prevented from being sucked onto the bandwagon and can also, refrain from spending exorbitant amounts of money on rehashed versions of the same game, released in yearly increments and labeled and priced as a "new" game. Activision's argument would most likely be, "Well how could we make money with future endeavors if we create a singular game and update it to include new things?" Simple. Stick a price tag on the updates. Include them in the Xbox Live Marketplace and the Playstation Store as downloadable content instead of game or system updates, and set a price for it. There's your profit. In addition, feel free to release subsequent Call of Duty titles that focus entirely on single-player and even online cooperative gameplay campaigns, and if you could arise from your comfort zone of recycling content, make an effort to put hard work into the game(s) and rightfully charge gamers the full $59.99 for the title.
I'll rightfully go ahead and label myself as a gaming guru for coming up with a logical and ideal course of action that puts an end to Activision's jerking us around and their excessive milking of a cow drier than the Sahara. It would undoubtedly force them to get off their lazy asses and actually get to work on crafting a quality product - it would also prevent them from trying to breed separate games from the same cesspool as that of the Call of Duty franchise. Yes, I'm referring to the James Bond games.
Since Quantum of Solace, Activision has done nothing other than ruin the 007 franchise worse than EA had (which in retrospect, EA hadn't really done anything bad [or as bad, rather] like Activision has.) With Quantum of Solace, Blood Stone, GoldenEye 007 and GoldenEye Reloaded, Activision has transformed what used to be games of pure spy action and adventure, espionage and stealth, into a James Bond rendition of the Call of Duty franchise, and I find it disgusting. I understand Activision's desire to stay true to the one thing they know how to do nowadays, but please. Multiplayer similar to Call of Duty? Sure, whatever. It worked well in GoldenEye Reloaded. But please, for the sake of my mental health, do not ruin the campaign by making it like that of your one-trick-pony.
Call me a hater, an entitled whiner, or what-have-you, but there is no denying the fact that Activision and their pet, Call of Duty has been a proverbial thorn in the side of the gaming industry, and it's starting to take a toll on my patience.