Activision has defended the practice of releasing a new Call of Duty title every year. Speaking to Eurogamer, Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg explained that the annual releases are simply to meet consumer demand.
“The cadence of the releases seems to have found a nice equilibrium with people’s appetite,” Hirshberg said. “There’s demand and excitement each and every time out. Then people are playing throughout the year. We have our biggest community of players today. Right now there are more people playing Call of Duty today than ever, which is remarkable for a franchise that’s been around as long as Call of Duty has. But, we don’t take anything for granted.”
He further explained that by alternating developers — namely, switching between Infinity Ward and Treyarch — the franchise has branched in different directions rather than becoming stale.
“Having alternating studios is one of the secrets to the franchise’s success,” Hirshberg explained. “You have different creative people who are strong willed and have minds of their own. Everyone gets what makes a great Call of Duty game. Treyarch and IW are the masters, and have built this thing. So, there’s a lot of common DNA from year to year. But then people come in and want to top each other. There’s some healthy competition. There’s a desire within the creative team to not do the same thing and not be stagnant, the same way there is in the player community. Overall it seems to be a good system.”
Hirshberg concluded by predicting that Call of Duty will continue to grow as long as each new installment still feels like an event.
“We’re already operating at a scale that’s fairly unprecedented in the industry,” he said. “Obviously we would love to grow further, but that depends on a lot of variables that are beyond our control. That depends on a successful console transition.”
One of the things we’ve done well is take what is a pretty core video game, a first-person shooter, and turn it into this big pop culture event,” he continued. “Even if you’re a casual participant in pop culture you feel like you’ve got to be a part of this. A lot of non-hardcore sci-fi fans saw Avatar because it was an event. You felt you had to be a part of it. We’ve reached the status with Call of Duty of this sort of pop-cultural inevitability, where the game itself, the critical mass of the player base, the marketing tonality and the bigness of the presentation all combine to turn it into an event that I think is unique within the industry.”
Call of Duty: Ghosts will hit Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC and Wii U on November 5th, with Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions to follow. For much more, check out our hands-on impressions from Gamescom, and be sure to read more from Hirshberg about Call of Duty in our interview from July.