Home | Why Activision only cares about what is in your wallet.

Why Activision only cares about what is in your wallet.

Posted by: Cooper | Filed Under Opinions, Weekly Articles | No comments 
2012
Nov 21

For those of you who don’t know or can’t keep count, we have just received the ninth Call of Duty game this year. Why? Because Activision cares so much and wants to keep shelling out content for the fans? Nope. They do it because of the money you are willing to spend every year for the same game. “How do you know?” you ask. From previous experience that’s how. For too long Activision has been the one company to take a beloved franchise and ring all of the life out of it until there is nothing left.

Remember Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater? Under the development of Neversoft, that game was a big surprise hit when it first came out in the late 90’s. Activision went off of the first games success by releasing annual sequels (a practice they will later adopt for all of their franchises) and improving on each game just enough to actually call them “sequels”. With every franchise, there is a peak, and then a steady or quick decline. The peak for the Tony Hawk games (in my opinion) was Tony Hawk’s Underground. This game came out at a perfect time when every teenage kid wanted to become a professional skater, and it made you feel like it was actually possible. After Underground’s huge success, Activision was quick to make a subpar sequel. After that, things just got worse. American Wasteland tried to blur the lines between skateboarding and BMX, and failed miserably. Project 8 tried to move the franchise in a more “realistic” direction, but just couldn’t pull it off. And then it happened, Skate was released as EA’s knockout punch to the Tony Hawk series, and it forever changed skateboarding games. Now the Tony Hawk franchise is just a sad reminder of a once great series of games.

Old School

What about a franchise that is a little more recent? Guitar Hero is another series near and dear to me. Guitar Hero 1 I never played because it was this big new thing and buying it was a risk because it might be a waste of money. Then Guitar Hero II came out, and its popularity skyrocketed. Doubly so after it release for Xbox 360. I finally got my hands on the game and I just fell in love. This is where the peak for Guitar Hero was for me. I discovered the game and fell in love with its addictive gameplay. At the time, the game was being developed by Harmonix, a renowned developer of music games. After a dispute with Activision, though, the developing rights went to Neversoft (notice anything?) to develop theĀ  sequel. Harmonix was dropped and later went on to create the Rock Band franchise under the wing of EA (oh the irony). Now with Neversoft at the helm, Guitar Hero 3 came out a year later. Some fans still consider this a “true” Guitar Hero, and some even consider it to be the best. I personally didn’t like the games sharp difficulty spike, and the fact that my controller didn’t work out of the box.

Anyone else remember the long haired, bearded guy on Bass? The good ol’ days.

Rock Band then changed everything. The game featured not only guitar gameplay, but drums and singing as well, all in one game. You could actually form virtual bands with your friends in your living room. It was revolutionary for music games. Activision had to respond somehow. The next Guitar Hero game blatantly copied Rock Band in a desperate attempt to steal back its fanbase. The quality of the game just wasn’t good, and it almost felt like Neversoft was caught with their pants down half-way through development of Guitar Hero IV when Rock Band was released and Activision forced them to compete. The game was called Guitar Hero, but featured drums and singing? This confused most people, and thus the music game throne was stolen from Activision right in front of their eyes. Years went on, more Guitar Heroes came out because of annual releases (!!!), and the music game craze went away as fast as it came. Once again, Guitar is just a faint memory, overshadowed by a much superior competitor, much like Tony Hawk.

In the end, neither game really won.

And now we come all the way back to Call of Duty. The only difference between the previous two franchises and Call of Duty is we are watching the decay of a franchise before our very eyes. It is happening right now. I don’t care about sales numbers, it’s about quality. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was my peak for the Call of Duty Franchise, and Activision knows it. Since the release of that game, Activision has used the annual release model to give consumers the same product year after year. Those who are ignorant of the past are doomed to repeat it. I suppose I’m so upset because it doesn’t have to be this way. Franchises like Halo have years between each release and it shows. If Activision just put their annual release model on the back-burner once, I know it would equal a great game. If they gave either Treyarch or Infinity Ward just a few more years to develop their games, the products would be great and vastly different and actually improve on each other.

Is Call of Duty doomed to become the next Madden?

Games that fallow an annual release schedule NEVER mean anything good for the consumer. We are going to continually and blindly buy every game every year, until the quality is so low that we might finally become bored and demand something new. Call of Duty doesn’t deserve this. In their glory days, these games were about huge battles and making you feel insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Now, you are just some super soldier who can shrug off bullets like snowballs. Maybe I’m alone in this, but I believe that Activision views their products like cattle. Get as much out of them as they can, until they are pointless and they kill them off. It happened to Tony Hawk, and it happened to Guitar Hero. The question is if, or rather when, will it happen to Call of Duty?

 

And for those of you who noticed a connection with Neversoft, they are slowly creeping their way into getting their hands on the franchise, which is probably when the games will die out. Read this Game Informer article for more:

http://www.gameinformer.com/b/news/archive/2012/06/14/neversoft-signs-up-for-call-of-duty.aspx

 


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