Internal Activision memo asks: “Isn’t Call of Duty today just like Guitar Hero was a few years back?”

Wednesday, 20th April 2011 21:19 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

An internal Activison memo obtained by Giant Bomb has the company questioning whether Call of Duty may suffer the same fate as Guitar Hero.

The memo titled “Isn’t Call of Duty today just like Guitar Hero was a few years back?”, one of two obtained by Giant Bomb, was written by the Actvision’s CEO Eric Hirshberg in an effort to reassure the firm that the franchise was still a safe bet.

“This is a great question and one we have thought about a lot,” wrote Hirshberg in the February memo, “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.

“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.

“If you really step back and dispassionately look at any measurement—sales, player engagement, hours of online play, performance of DLC—you can absolutely conclude that the potential for this franchise has never been greater. In order to achieve this potential, we need to focus: on making games that constantly raise the quality bar; on staying ahead of the innovation curve; on surrounding the brand with a suite of services and an online community that makes our fans never want to leave.

“Entertainment franchises with staying power are rare. But Call of Duty shows all of the signs of being able to be one of them. It’s up to us.”

Hirshberg goes on say that Activision can remain competitive in the marketplace with or without Call of duty if need be, as other projects such as Bungie’s the Beachead online service it touches on in its last financial call, and the micro-transaction-based CoD launching in China. Hirshberg also mentioned extensions for Call of Duty that “are more complex and have more potential on their own than most stand alone console games.”

“Activision doesn’t always seem to get the credit it deserves in terms of innovation in my opinion, but there is no short supply of it, even in our narrower slate,” added Hirchberg. “As I said, when you look at this list of projects and the innovations embedded within them, it is a pipeline any company would kill for.

“Call of Duty is one of the biggest entertainment franchises in the world,” said Hirshberg. “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.”

It looks as though Call of Duty fans are safe for now, then.



  1. Cangriman

    Yeah, I wonder how long Call of Duty will last…

    #1 4 years ago
  2. Bikki

    Activision are whores. The best fps game iv’e ever played was CoD 4 but now they’re just pushing their luck. The next cod will suck badly if they don’t work on it carefully and release it after extensive development like in 2012 or even 2013. You DONT have to shit out a new cod every year ffs.

    #2 4 years ago
  3. The_Deleted

    If rumours are true, you’ll be getting one every 6 months.

    I won’t, cus I think they’re utter balls. The Eastenders of gaming.

    #3 4 years ago
  4. chriswhaaat

    They’re going to have to create a new engine in order to keep up with Battlefield. The new trailer for BF3 put next to a COD trailer just makes COD look pitiful.

    #4 4 years ago
  5. OrbitMonkey

    Well the next one will be the make or break I think. That battlefield 3 is turning a lot of heads.

    #5 4 years ago
  6. DSB

    I think the next one is going to clock in under Black Ops, and that will probably lead to the next generation CoD. Possibly that’s when they’ll start talking up Sledgehammers CoD-hybrid to take over in the interim.

    That would make sense to me, at least. I don’t see a four studio effort ever coming together, especially with studios that are so different in pretty much every way.

    #6 4 years ago
  7. The1stMJC

    It’s funny Activision acknowledges that Call of Duty can end up like Guitar Hero, but have no back up plan really for when that time arrives. At least when Guitar Hero was going to hell they could have said at least we have Tony hawk and Call of Duty to fall back on. Now they are down to Call of Duty with nothing else after that.

    I know they have a Bungie game, but Bungie will own that game and Activision is just a publishing partner.

    So what’s going to happen to them in 2-3 years will they just rely on Blizzard?

    #7 4 years ago
  8. Dr.Ghettoblaster

    I wanna know how the public is reading internal Activision memos…

    #8 4 years ago
  9. Stardog

    People are dumb. CoD will continue to sell well for years to come.

    #9 4 years ago
  10. hitnrun

    Confirmed: the author of the memo was summoned to a meeting with Bobby Kotick. Gunshots were heard, and he hasn’t been seen since. (Edit: Oops, I didn’t read down to the tongue bath further down. I think #11\/ has it right.)

    Seriously, CoD represents a footnote in the long annals of the FPS genre. It’s just a Doom clone with set pieces. Its success is a reflection of the industry – the exponential growth of videogames and the development of integrated internet multiplayer over the last decade makes the reigning leader a social must-buy.

    The fact that nothing has replaced it – like all the other Kings of the FPS Mountain before it – in the last 3.5 years is testament to how hesitant publishers have become with so much money at stake. It’s actually kind of ridiculous that the best competitors can muster is the MoH remake.

    #10 4 years ago
  11. marijnlems

    Hmmm… a memo that makes the CEO and the company look good. We don’t call that a leak, we call that stealth PR.

    #11 4 years ago
  12. YoungZer0

    @7: Backup Plan: Cancel more games. Close more studios.

    #12 4 years ago
  13. AHA-Lambda

    the fact they have to send this out (to their own firm no less!) speaks volumes really =/

    #13 4 years ago
  14. Ireland Michael


    #14 4 years ago
  15. Iliad

    “on making games that constantly raise the quality bar; on staying ahead of the innovation curve”.

    Is this supposed to be an ironic statement? CoD games haven’t done either of these for years, and Activision has already stated this year that they see no need to create a new engine for the game, so the next CoD will look 6 years out of date, as opposed to last year’s Black Ops, which was 5 years out of date tech.

    Personally, I don’t give a shit what they do. They’ll probably just repackage MW2, like they did with MW before it, slap new cover art on the box and the millions of teenagers that make this brand the success it is will just lap it up because they prefer generic arcade twitch shooters that require no skill to be good at it, no tactics to succeed, and who are just out for themselves oblivious of the term “teamwork”.

    On the plus side, the continuing success of CoD means that at least these deathmatch drones aren’t fucking up the more tactical shooters for the adults. CoD for kids, Battlefield for adults. Works for me.

    #15 4 years ago
  16. DSB

    Since when was teamwork a part of online gaming? And I’m pretty sure you can’t win a game, in pretty much any multiplayer shooter, without actually playing better than someone else.

    I’m not above kidnapping a severely handicapped person to prove it.

    Realistic tactics have been pretty much wiped out in modern gaming, and that’s obviously sad, but you still need your personal tactics to fit the game you’re playing.

    Bad Company 2 felt pretty relaxing after playing MW2. Of course the guns don’t actually hit where you aim, and that’s certainly pretty retarded, given that guns are designed to do just that, but it didn’t exactly ramp up the pace on any kind of level, so if by adult you mean geriatric, then we’re in the right neighbourhood.

    In terms of genre and fundamental mechanics, they’re just two different approaches to the very same thing. Point shoot, revel at score, go “GG” or “HAHA, cunt”, depending on when you last got laid.

    #16 4 years ago
  17. UuBuU

    Activision are renowned for milking their successful franchises to death. Tony Hawks… Guitar Hero… and soon to be Call of Duty.

    @16 – Clan gameplay used to be the main aspect of online FPS games. Now it’s all about running around completing individual goals like ranks and unlocks. Battlefield is just as bad as COD for promoting this style of gameplay over teamwork.

    #17 4 years ago
  18. DSB

    @17 Yeah, that’s definitely a caveat.

    I spent a lot of time back in the 90′s in a comfy local cybercafe playing with and against the same group of guys, and that was pretty awesome.

    It wasn’t just CoD or BF that set the standard either, it was UT and Quake as well. I blame the designers as a whole. It feels to me like the FPS hasn’t really left an infantsy where the game is designed around one individual playing another individual.

    There’s no real incentive or design making people care, beyond what a group of social guys can make for themselves in a clan.

    I enjoy “duelling” individuals on an opposing team, but it’s definitely sad that there’s little in the way of an alternative. I’m hoping that Brink can expand on the whole “all as one” concept and maybe open peoples eyes to what you can do with a multiplayer FPS.

    #18 4 years ago
  19. DaMan

    that’s the point of the ‘Add friend’ function, you know..

    #19 4 years ago
  20. Dralen

    I actually read an interesting article about Activision recently. It’s titled “What went wrong with Activision’s franchises?” and it basically outlines all of Activision’s IPs and what they’ve done wrong with them, it also talks about some of their most recent attempts to create new IP’s that totally flopped (Singularity; Did anyone actually realise this came out?, and Blur). It also briefly went on to talk about how in Contrast EA seem to just keep pumping out all the new IP’s, and they are mostly very successful. It also recognised that EA didn’t have anything like COD in their arsenal, but they know how to keep their franchises alive and not milk them like Activision has with Guitar Hero.

    #20 4 years ago
  21. Iliad

    #16 “Of course the guns don’t actually hit where you aim, and that’s certainly pretty retarded”.

    Dude, you have heard of gravity, right? Maybe bullet drop, especially over long distances? CoD is an arcade shooter, hence the bullets hit where you aim, regardless of the type of weapon (LMG, assault rifle, sniper rifle, SMG, pistol etc) or distance. Battlefield games (along with Operation Flashpoint) take bullet drop/gravity into account, hence it takes greater skill to kill from distance.

    And a skilled squad operating as a team in BC2 will defeat a skilled squad of lone wolves 9 times out of 10. The reason why you see CoD-style run-and-gun tactics in BC2 at times is because those players are CoD players, or noobs the franchise who know no better because of twitch shooters. Honestly, some of the retarted things I’ve heard come out of their mouths is hilarious.

    #21 4 years ago
  22. Dimacorgan

    I don’t know whether it’ll keep up with the previous versions’ sales, I won’t buy that, this time… that’s for sure.

    #22 4 years ago
  23. DSB

    @21 Okay, let’s get specific.

    No one’s talking about actual ballistics. The weapons in BC2 are coded with dispersion, which is one of the most reality-defying things you can ever put into a weapon, since it’s essentially an infinitely small factor in very few weapons around today.

    Most assault rifles from the 1950′s and onwards are designed to be predictable at ranges between 300 to 500 metres, meaning that soldiers can zero their weapon sights and/or scopes to fit the conditions they’re fighting in. Doesn’t mean that it will always be perfectly zeroed, but the soldier will be competent enough to make his rounds count in spite of that.

    In BC2, that’s simply not the case. Instead of engineering reality, like you do through ballistics and basic recoil, they just throw a spanner in the works, and as a result, you can potentially be killed purely by chance. That’s lousy design, in my book.

    I’ve put a lot of hours into MW2, and that’s improved my reflexes, and taught me how to preempt peoples behaviour on a map, giving me the best possible position for a kill. Using those reflexes, I had a field day jumping into early BC2. Not that I wasn’t matched at any point, but it felt a lot slower, and as such it just felt a lot less demanding.

    Obviously, the challenge is always going to be mostly on the guy you’re fighting, but the design is what dictates the basic requirements.

    The notion that BC2 is somehow more realistic can only really be based on a total ignorance of actual combat. Full auto is basically a non-starter for any tactically coherent unit, unless you’re doing a suppression drill, which is something that isn’t a factor in most online shooters, where dying doesn’t matter to anyone (and as such, bullets aren’t very scary). We’ve been applying the doctrine of consistent and accurate fire for the better part of a century now – Translated, that means slower, but deadlier fire. If BC2 was ever meant to be realistic, that’s certainly not very good research on the part of the developer. As much as you’d like to kid yourself that you’re somehow more refined for picking one standard FPS over another, you’re still left playing a standard online shooter, based on the very same principles, and the very same goal as all the others – Namely the attempt to make it fun to run around and shoot guys on the internet.

    Clans will always have an obvious advantage, but most people aren’t in one, and I certainly don’t see more than two or three clanned individuals on independent BC2 servers at any one time, so I don’t see how the actions of a select few somehow becomes representative of an entire game, like you’re suggesting.

    A clan in MW2 will also do better than a random squad, as will one in Counter-Strike. That doesn’t elevate those games from being simple multiplayer shooters, to anything more profound than that, you know?

    #23 4 years ago
  24. IL DUCE

    It would suffer the same fate as Guitar Hero but unfortunately they may have noticed in time to actually innovate and maybe start releasing them every two years instead of releasing a shitty lower quality Treyarch CoD in between IW CoDs…but CoD sucks anyway, no matter what studio makes it, it’s been the same game since 2007, and CoD4 was probably the best one of all of them that have released since then

    #24 4 years ago

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