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.