If Activision were a pro-wrestler, it would be the greatest heel of all time. Better than Ted DiBiase, better than Hollywood Hogan—it would even be better than Anderson Silva and his fantastic manager, Ed Soares. (Not that UFC is pro-wrestling, but some of the same dynamics are at work there.) The amount of heat this company generates over the most insignificant, throwaway comments—it’s simply unreal. Nuclear, if you will. Take this latest remark: “We haven’t yet announced the content of [Sledgehammer, a new developer it swallowed]’s game, but it’s going to be an innovative take that will further broaden the audience for Call of Duty.” Yes, because a game that makes you one billion dollars isn’t “broad” enough.
I should probably put that comment in content. The company’s chief operating officer, Thomas Tippl, was asked by the Los Angeles Times his thoughts on, well, pretty much everything Activision has gone through in the past few months. (Recap: Activision fired Jason West and Vince Zampella, of Infinity Ward, who pretty much the creators of Call of Duty, over what it claims was “insubordination.” West and Zampella say they were treated like hot garbage and weren’t paid the royalties they were due. Then they founded a new studio, Respawn Entertainment, which will work with EA. Then a whole bunch more people left Infinity Ward, with one “insider” calling the development studio “dead.” It’s bat-shit crazy, all of it.) Let’s just copy-paste the relevant question and answer:
Q: How many studios do you have working on Call of Duty games now?
A: Today, we have three studios working on Call of Duty. We have Infinity Ward, which made Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Then we have Treyarch, which will be releasing a Call of Duty game in the fall of 2010. Treyarch also developed Call of Duty: World at War and Call of Duty 3. And, most recently, we’ve added Sledgehammer in the Bay Area. We haven’t yet announced the content of their game, but it’s going to be an innovative take that will further broaden the audience for Call of Duty.
Too bad the Treyarch-developed games were nothing in comparison to the Infinity Ward-developed ones. It’d be like ordering a fine piece of dark chocolate in a small Brussels bakery, but then getting handed a Hersey bar instead—why even bother getting your hands dirty? It’s not even worth the effort.
The absurdity of “broadening” a billion dollar game needs little explanation. First off, how? Second off, why?
What’s Activision’s track record with “broadening” video game franchises? (And yes, the word “franchise” does annoy me, but it’s all I could think of.) Tony Hawk? Do you know anyone who still plays that? Guitar Hero? 2007 called: it wants its fad back.
So congratulations to Activision for enraging an entire generation of video game site-reading gamers. You’re the best.