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Has Call of Duty Reached its Zenith? |

Fired Infinity Ward Execs sue Activision

Nobody ever heard of the original Call of Duty. Sure, it was a game and people played it, but it wasn’t anything special. Call of Duty 2, on the other hand, really stole some of the spotlight. It was a smash hit on the 360, and I played it a LOT on the PC. Call of Duty 3 was a game I purchased for the PS3, but Treyarch’s first effort in the Call of Duty franchise left a lot to be desired. (They say they had very little time to prepare, which is fine.)

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare sold 1.3 million copies (right?), despite the fact that Activision didn’t even want Infinity Ward to modernize the franchise. The covers were blown off, and the Call of Duty franchise really came into its own as a popular hit and as a money tree for the ever-hungry Activision. Then Call of Duty: World at War was Treyarch’s attempt at putting themselves on the same footing as Infinity Ward. But the lackluster single player campaign, the nothing-new multiplayer, and the stupid addition of zombies just to score some nonsensical points clearly showed that Infinity Ward wears the pants in the Activision family.

Finally Modern Warfare 2 arrived last fall and it’s already sold more copies than the original Modern Warfare. Even with its faults, the game is a ton of fun, and sales certainly reflect that. Infinity Ward has hit it out of the ballpark – heck, out of the county – with this game. I play it several times a week, and several of my friends do too. I’ve never been able to talk about a single game with so many different friends before. Some play it on PC’s, some on 360’s, and the lucky ones can play it on the PS3 with me. 🙂 Everyone has a copy of this fun game.

But I think the joyride is over.

Infinity Ward will never be the same after the lawsuit. My guess is that Jason West and Vince Zampella will start a new game company, and that several of the Infinity Ward faithful will follow them. No matter how much Activision protests that a game is not made by an individual, Mr. West and Mr. Zampella were the driving force behind Infinity Ward, and now there’s a vacuum in the company that Activision can’t fill. Infinity Ward is now missing two of its key creative forces. And Activision’s heavy handed tactics will totally demoralize the remaining Infinity Ward employees. Is this how a company should treat the two people that made it five billion dollars? I’ve been at companies when there were layoffs. Everyone walked around like those zombies that should never have been in WaW. But having your own company treat two of the best people like they were shoe scum must be just that much more worse. Infinity Ward will not be the same for a long time, if ever.

And do you think that any other studio Activision owns can really take the Call of Duty franchise to the next level? Treyarch has shown that they can make a decent copy-cat game. But they can’t innovate like Infinity Ward. There just is nobody else.

So I expect to see Activision pump out more mediocre Call of Duty games over the next couple years, but I don’t expect anything special. I’ll have to look elsewhere for that. And do you know where I’m going to look? Three places. They’re all the obvious ones, and you won’t be surprised, but I’ll list them anyway.

  1. The obvious one to mention first is the studio Jason West and Vince Zampella will create. I think they still hunger for more, and they’re going to go out and create it.
  2. Bungie. I don’t own own a 360, and have owned a PS3 since launch, but even I have to admit that the Halo games are good fun. After this fall’s Halo game is done, Bungie will be free to work on what they want, and I think it’ll be something new, and I’m hoping it’ll be on the PS3.
  3. Guerilla. Killzone 2 was underrated, and I think it should have done a lot better than it did. I’m still trying to get my friends to buy used copies so that we can get together and play it. (No luck so far.) I think that Guerilla’s next PS3 game will really be a kicker now that they know the platform. (I just hope they do splitscreen!)

So who will create the next big shooter? West/Zampella? Bungie? Guerilla? Or somebody else? I have a strong feeling it won’t be Activision.

  • Activision fell hard with this one.

    There was also a leaked Activision Memo about West/Zampella communicating with other publishers, including EA. hmmmm

  • Trieloth

    WTF dood Nazi Zombies Rocks! I still have my copy of CoD:WaW because of that reason and I know several people that still play it.
    Modern Warfare 3 will have to add more of a war like feel before I spend anymore money on them.

  • Smegmazor

    Blackstaffer, when you ask who will create the nest big shooter, do you mean who will create the next blockbuster hit, or who will create the next good shooter? These games are a dime a dozen these days and, as I’ve always stated before, COD MW games are really just commercial hits to satisfy the masses (Popshooter). Sure, I had fun on MW -MW2, but boredom sets in too quickly after a month or less of gameplay, for me at least.

    In my opinion, games like Rainbow 6V1, MAG, and hopefully Socom 4 are games that had/have substance and kept the player stuck to the TV for months at a time. They may not be up there selling as many copies as the mega hits, but games of this kind I consider worth the $60 purchase.

  • JimmyMagnum

    I thought the first one was great! I’d love to see Vietnam, though. Totally underused theater and it screams CoD. Given Treyarch’s CoD3 to WaW improvement, I think they could do a decent job of it.

  • Darrin

    “Nobody ever heard of the original Call of Duty. Sure, it was a game and people played it, but it wasn’t anything special.”

    You couldn’t be more wrong on that.

    CoD1 was genuinely innovative on the single player front, it won tons of awards, and was a pioneer in delivering that type of ambient warfare while you played.

    CoD2, CoD3, CoD4:MW, and CoD:WaW, really didn’t innovate at all as far as single player goes and were completely stagnant next to the rest of the industry.

    Multiplayer is another story. Almost no one played CoD1 for the multiplayer, but by the time of CoD4, WaW, and MW2, it’s the reverse: everyone plays the multiplayer and most people don’t even touch the single player.

    Also, sales-wise, you are probably right. CoD1 was PC only. CoD2 was the premeire Xbox 360 launch title and got tons of attention due to that.

    Also, regarding the conflict between West/Zampella and Activision, how are you so sure that West/Zampella are so innocent and pure while Activision is the bad guy? How do you know that it wasn’t the reverse in this particular issue?

  • JimmyMagnum

    tons of folks played CoD1 online, I was one of them lol. Plus, tons of awesome dedicated servers, too. At the time, it was still no BF42, though,

  • SicSemperTyranis

    @Darrin I see what you are saying about maybe Activision being the good guy. Didn’t the Infinity Ward guys say that any Call of Duty not made by them is not a “real” Call of Duty? I always thought that it was kind of a douche baggy thing to say. Anyway,
    maybe these 2 guys were told about Activisions plans for the COD franchise and they flipped out or it could really be about their unpaid bonuses. Either way I have a feeling that this is going to get really dirty…

  • Gamer

    “the stupid addition of zombies just to score some nonsensical points”

    This (and several other) comment reveals a lot of ignorance in this article. Not only was Nazi Zombies a smash hit but it lead Treyarch’s DLC to record sales.