Call of Duty has been the king this generation. Like it or not, Activision’s incredibly lucrative franchise has been the definitive first-person shooter for the masses. The series has sold over 140 million copies during this console generation alone, but Call of Duty’s future in the next generation is a different story. While Call of Duty has dominated in the market in recent years, will the domination continue against the likes of Titanfall, Battlefield 4, and Killzone: Shadow Fall?
Even though the series has stuck largely to the same formula for the near entirety of the generation, the new Call of Duty has continued to be the top-selling game of the year throughout this generation. Now innovation is coming from other franchises. Titanfall is changing the way first-person shooters are played through story-driven multiplayer, in-game physics, and, of course, titans. Battlefield 4 adds even more destructible environments that will change the way strategy is used in matches. Killzone: Shadow Fall has a newfound focus on opening up the traditional single player campaign. Meanwhile, Call of Duty: Ghosts is adding dogs and creating fish that move out of the way when you swim into them. While Ghosts is admittedly changing the game more than what was sarcastically mentioned, Ghosts boasts minor tweaks while the other next-gen shooters boast innovation. It’s going to be hard to convince even the most gullible of players to buy another Call of Duty game for their new system when it’s going up against such a great assortment of quality games.
The usual buzz that goes into the new Call of Duty has been divided this year. Between Grand Theft Auto V and the new consoles, much of the focus of this holiday season has shifted away from the norm. Call of Duty: Ghosts simply does not have the same level of presence that previous Call of Duty games had. Ghosts feels like an afterthought. It has been covered up by all of the hype and excitement for the future. Meanwhile, Titanfall, Battlefield 4, and Killzone: Shadow Fall had great showings at Gamescom and PAX and are continuing to increase the number of potential consumers for each game. Events like these are followed by more people now than ever. They are giving other games way more coverage than Ghosts because Activision does not feel the need to heavily market its darling franchise. While Activison’s confidence is certainly understandable, the company’s overconfidence could lead to Call of Duty’s decline.
Activision has had some powerful franchises fall over the years. Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero were two of the most popular franchises several years ago, but neither series carries much weight today. Both franchises declined because each was excessively milked by Activision. Call of Duty faces the same problem. As Call of Duty games continue to come out every year featuring little to no innovation and improvement, Activision is slowly killing yet another franchise. Activision will have to make a serious change in the next few years in order for Call of Duty to stay relevant among newer and more innovative titles.
Call of Duty has become a staple of the video game industry and will always be in the conversation, but it won’t always be the leader. As a new generation approaches, new ways to play, new ways to connect, and new ways to have fun are quickly approaching. Unless Activision starts making changes, Call of Duty will likely fall from grace along with the other hinderers of innovation.