Last year, Activision finally managed to get Call of Duty out of its slump when they released Treyarch’s Black Ops 3, which ended up being the biggest, most successful Call of Duty game since Treyarch’s own Black Ops 2 in 2012. As a result, there is a fair bit of goodwill and excitement around this year’s game- how will Activision follow up?
Of course, this excitement needs to be tempered, too, because while Black Ops 3 was by Treyarch, who are now widely considered to be the best studio working on Call of Duty, this year’s game is by Infinity Ward, who are widely considered to be the worst. It is also unclear what Infinity Ward may be working on, this year- according to analyst Michael Pachter, however, Infinity Ward’s new game is either a new Modern Warfare or a brand new IP.
“I think that the risk is that they make a bad game again- [but] the likelihood is that with Dave Stohl running the studio – he’s the former co-founder, so he’s worked on great games – they’ll probably do a good job,” Pachter said of the studio. “But the last Infinity Ward game was Ghosts, and it was bad. So there’s always that risk. The upside is competition is far less severe this holiday- Battlefield is a bigger game that Battlefront, but you don’t have Halo, Fallout, or Assassin’s Creed this year. You very likely have Watch Dogs. And probably Mafia 3, but I don’t think that will be a huge game. So less competition, which means Call of Duty will probably do very well this holiday. But who knows?
“Somebody- some rumor said it was set in World War 1? Which would shock me. They may go back to World War 2, but I think people like the whole concept of ‘modern warfare,’ and you can’t set it in World War 2 and call it Modern Warfare 4. I’d also be really surprised if they called it Ghosts 2. So we’ll see how it is. Probably not Advanced Warfare, and definitely not Black Ops, so what’s left? Either a new IP like Ghosts, or go back to Modern Warfare, which I think they know how to do. So that would be my bet.”
Of course, Infinity Ward could just stubbornly double down on Ghosts and try to salvage it with a sequel – there have been other poorly received games that have done well with their sequels, such as the original Assassin’s Creed, as an example – but ultimately, what Pachter says sounds extremely likely. Given that Activsion is extremely profit seeking, and Ghosts was ultimately the lowest selling Call of Duty game in a very long time (not to mention damaging to the franchise’s long term prospects), Activision will probably have Infinity Ward avoid a new Ghosts game like a minefield.
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