Don’t you adore it when a franchise you love is not only put on hiatus, but also reduced to nothing more than a cautionary tale for that same company’s blockbuster first person shooter franchise? Well that appears to be what has happened with Activision.
In two recently acquired internal memo, Giant Bomb reveals that Activision is concerned about how popular Call of Duty is and is taking a close look at how the Hero franchise collapsed after experiencing similar mainstream success. The memo poses the eerie question of “isn’t Call of Duty today just like Guitar Hero was a few years back?”
Activision publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg responded to that question in February with “This is a great question and one we have thought about a lot, but there are several key differences between the two franchises worth considering. Guitar Hero quickly reached incredible heights, but then began a steady decline. Call of Duty, on the other hand, has steadily grown every single year of its seven-year existence.”
Hirshberg continued on the topic of Guitar Hero and Call of Duty differences. “Guitar Hero was a new genre which had incredible appeal, but which had not stood the test of time. Call of Duty exists in a genre–first person shooters–that has shown remarkable staying power and wide appeal over a period of decades. Plus, Call of Duty has inspired a massive, persistent, online community of players, making it perhaps the ‘stickiest’ game of all time.”
While Hirshberg makes a strong point in how the first person shooter genre’s popularity has been omnipresent since it’s inception, he has to be able to see how the company directly contributed to the series’ downfall. One way to make a trend vanish is to over-expose it to the fans of that trend. With so many games being released in 2008 to 2009, there is no doubt in most people’s minds as to why the franchise seemed to fizzle out after such roaring popularity.
The final excerpt published by Giant Bomb has even more eerie implications, as it sounds very familiar to us. Try replacing “Call of Duty” with “Guitar Hero” and see if it sounds familiar to you as well. “Call of Duty is one of the biggest entertainment franchises in the world. We have assembled an unprecedented team of some of the finest development and business talent in the world to keep this game ahead of the curve.”
What are your thoughts on this? Is Activision destined to drive Call of Duty into the ground, or will they stick to their plan of attack and earn record profits with Modern Warfare 3? Is this thought process a viable business plan, or will fans grow tired of the franchise and move onto something like Battlefield 3? Only time will tell, but for now, we’re just pointing out that this sounds all too familiar to us longtime Guitar Hero fans.