Activision is Wrong: A Greedy Corporation’s Story
To Sum Up Activision: They Hate You!
Activision have been in the business of video-game publishing for the longest of time. Since the 80’s, to be precise.
Doom, released in 1993, was one of Activision’s first real success stories. The game innovated on first-person-shooting, and served as being one of the first video-games to successfully transition into this genre of gaming. This was one of those games that the teens of the early 90’s will have had countless hours of enjoyment playing alongside friends.
It wasn’t until 2003 when Activision bought the rights to Call of Duty from the Infinity Ward developer that they would truly be drawn into the minds of their gaming community. Infinity Ward had already built a reputation within the first-person-shooting gaming atmosphere, as it was their previous developing studio title that was responsible for the earlier creation of the Medal of Honour series.
Call of Duty, set during the world war 2 era, started a new series that would become one of gaming histories most successful franchises of all time. Call of Duty (COD: Finest Hour - as it is known-by on the PlayStation 2) was a very similar game to that of Medal of Honour, except Finest Hour brought players to the viewpoints staged in British, American, and Soviet theatres of World War II. This garnered the game a reputation for being one of the most realistic, and best portrayed story campaigns for the world war II era.
Activision were quick to capitalise on the success of the first Call of Duty game, as they were quick to release a Call of Duty 2: The Big Red One in 2005, and the story campaign for this game was even better received than the first, and is likely due to the epic scenery and tank missions.
Call of Duty 3, released in 2006, was the first Call of Duty title to gain a cult following for its multiplayer mode, and the campaign was everything that fans were hoping for, and more. This was also the first Call of Duty title to release on the PlayStation 3 (the next-generation console, at this time), and the larger reason for the multiplayer modes success is due to the improvements made to server control on the PS3 from the PS2 consoles limited online capabilities.
Then came a defining point for the Activision publisher, and this came in 2007 with the release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the first COD title to move away from the world war II era. Infinity Ward, once again at the helm of the ship, created a next-generation Call of Duty title that could make use of all of the technological advances that came with the next-generation console platforms, on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare sold more than 10 million copies, an amount that is roughly ten times more than the previous title, Call of Duty 3, which sold approximately 1 million copies globally.
Activision had already contracted Treyarch Studios to create a follow-up to Modern Warfare that would take the franchise back to the world war II era, having signed the development deal a year before the launch of Call of Duty 4, after fears that the player base would still be more appealed to the world war II time era. This deal would pay off as World at War (released in 2008) would go on to become a critical and commercial success. But, at the time the fifth instalment for the COD franchise, World at War, was still selling less copies than the fourth instalment, Call of Duty 4.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 released next in 2009, and this was their most successful instalment so far, and was the title that received the most support via the online space, with many YouTube channels growing off the back of Modern Warfare 2 content.
The edge that Infinity Ward had gained immediately prompted more forward thinking from Treyarch, as their next COD instalment would be set around the Vietnam war, and was released in 2010, titled Black Ops.
The competition was officially on between Infinity Ward and Treyarch, and the next development project from Infinity Ward involved teaming up with Sledgehammer Games (due to a loss in developers within the Infinity Ward studio at the time). This game was titled Modern Warfare 3, and released in 2011.
Activision have still remained efficient in focusing a lot of their resources and time into the Call of Duty franchise, being that it is their flagship franchise. Continuing to be the number 1 bestseller on the video-games marketplace, Treyarch would release Black Ops 2 in 2012. This title would bring back the iconic zombies mode, and this time around the mode would lead more like a story than a headless chicken mode where zombies storm in from a limited sized map. This was also a bold move from Treyarch, as the franchise was finally pushing into the future, but still retained the franchises iconic gaming mechanics.
Then, Ghosts launched in 2013, Infinity Ward’s first solo project since Modern Warfare 2, and the player base was torn in two, with those enjoying the changes for the new solo series, and then those simply finding the entire game to be a step in the wrong direction. However players feel about this instalments, the facts speak for themselves, and this game was the first to drop in sales from the previous year. Still a complete success in its own right, but there were clearly unsettled waters among avid fans of the franchise.
In 2014, Sledgehammer Games, would receive their first opportunity to shine as a solo developer working on a Call of Duty title, and so released Advanced Warfare. This was a critical and commercial success, but the new gaming mechanics proved too much for many traditionalist fans of the franchise who grew up playing all of the original COD titles. And so, a further did in sales from the previous year.
Treyarch was coming back, and in 2015 they released Black Ops III, and many fans of the franchise, especially those committed to the works of Treyarch, made a swift return to the latest instalment. But, the proof stands that the sales were once again dipping from the year previous, and many have been calling Activision money grabbing corporate stooges ever since. This was in large due to the introduction of micro-transactions that gave the tempting offer to purchase supply drops to better chances of unlocking new loot. In truth, the micro-transactions were launched in the Advanced Warfare game, but Treyarch had a committed fan-base, and many believe that the micro-transactions were set up in such a way that made Black Ops III a pay to win multiplayer game.
Infinite Warfare, Infinity Ward’s next release in 2016, had a business model change as there was a deluxe edition optioned for the game that would give a digital code unlock for the Modern Warfare Remastered game that would be given in addition. Not a problem, only if all you wanted was the MWR game then tough luck because the game would not be released as a standalone until 9 months after its initial release alongside Infinite Warfare (Deluxe Edition, only). Many have stated that this was down to the dips in sales in previous years, as this way Activision could ensure greater sales and revenue from the franchise in a single year. Ever since, Activision has been hinting at a shift in business model for the launch of future Call of Duty instalments.
All you’ve mentioned is the Call of Duty franchise (… and Doom), so what I’m saying exactly, is why? Yep, Call of Duty has been the ground breaking work behind Activision’s lasting success and corporate values for over a decade now. Activision has been spending a lot of their disposable income on re-investing in the Call of Duty franchise, as it has one of the most dedicated gamer followings that the video-game industry has ever had. Activision don’t miss deadlines when it comes to the Call of Duty launches, they release in November, every November (without fail!).
What else had Activision been up to during the Call of Duty franchises massive life-cycle?
Activision are well known for their movie to video-game adaptations, and are responsible for a number of Spider-Man, Transformers, and even a Ghostbusters game.
Crash Bandicoot and Spyro are brands that Activision owns, and they have quite honestly set a path of destruction ruining everything that made these games so great on the PlayStation 1 and 2. You may have heard of Skylanders, and there have been various releases for these games over the years, and contains a whole bunch of cool family-friendly video-games characters, including Spyro the dragon. These games are basically capitalising off the success of the individual video-game series for these characters, and it should reach every consumer by some point or another that these games are simply trampling on the reputation that these game characters each individually had.
Activision also famously acquired Guitar Hero, and this has not truly been a great game since the PlayStation 2 days, and the fact that they are still making these games is a little worrying. The more recent of Guitar Hero games once again tramples on the success of the originals by cheekily encouraging gamers to spend on micro transactions to own songs within the game. Back on the PS2, they would have basically given all of the music free to play within the game. This is yet another gaming series that has been broken by Activision.
What about the Destiny series, haven’t you heard - Activision has spent more than $500 million on investments into future releases for the Destiny series? Yep, this is one of those gaming series that took everyone by surprise, and is one of the top played game on the next generation console platforms (PS4 and Xbox One).
The first Destiny released in 2014, and was developed by Bungie, the developing studio behind the Halo franchise. Microsoft Studios had built a strong relationship with Bungie for years in making the Halo franchise, a gaming series that truly peaked back on the Xbox 360 with Halo 3.
Bungie since, have formed a new relationship with Activision to make the Destiny series, and this has quickly become a franchise, right out of nowhere. This came as little surprise to Activision, and they have plans that stretch possibly 5 years ahead of time as they continue working on the Destiny franchise. If Activision has proven anything over their time in business it is that they like to squeeze every bit of juice out of their franchises as humanly possible.
Hey, isn’t Overwatch the best selling game for 2016, and uh yeah, published by Activision? Yep, but technically it is Blizzard Entertainment which published the Overwatch title, a game that has been played by more than 30 million players. And, in 2008 Activision and Blizzard Entertainment merged, forming Activision Blizzard Studios.
Another big Blizzard Entertainment is Diablo III, and in 2012 when the game was released it sold 12 million copies. And, since its release surpassed 2012 it has sold a total of 30 million copies across all platforms.
For those with little knowledge of Blizzard Entertainment, they gained the majority of their success in 2004 when they launched the World of Warcraft game for PC in 2004. And since, they have launched various expansion packs, and since the game is a massively popular multiplayer focused role-playing game a part of the Warcraft series the game still makes money today in 2017.
Does Activision Consider Variety in their Games? Nope, Activision invests purely in the safe bet games, and the days of innovation have died with the blind sight of the Call of Duty franchise. Back in 2007, Call of Duty 4 innovated the franchise through the multiplayer mode which finally provided a realistic and immersive war experience.
This was the first of the Call of Duty titles, and on consoles in general, to bring in an online infrastructure that rewarded players for their skill sets, as XP (experience points) would be earned every time you scored a kill, captured an objective, and all in hopes of winning matches.
Activision have been milking the gaming mechanics, online infrastructure originally formed by Infinity Ward for Call of Duty 4, the game engine originally formed by Infinity Ward for Call of Duty 4, and everything else that worked the formula so well for Call of Duty 4, in order to pump out game after game of the same formula. Disruption with the formula…? And, we get a futuristic era mess that had no insight whatsoever from the original developers at Infinity Ward (that jumped ship in 2009), and it failed to grow the gaming community.
So, Activision confirmed micro-transactions that relate directly to their online loot, so wanna get loot without playing well, all you need to do is buy that tasty looking loot. Activision disclaimer: The loot can be earned online organically by playing the game for long hours, and quicker done through gaining skills at playing the online mode. And, no, skills in the single player mode do not carry over to multiplayer modes.
Activision is like every other technology company, and the name of the game is flagship products. Apple has the iPhone, Samsung have the Galaxy S, and Activision has Call of Duty.
At first, the Apple’s iPhone innovation is clear, as nothing else on the market even comes close to the joy and satisfaction that comes with owning the iPhone. Even in 2017, the original iPhone from 2007 looks stunning, and even though its iOS is limited to todays standards, and the camera is trash, the loading times are microchip infested with bugs and issues, it still stands as the most innovative product (yep, even when compared to all of the advancements made to future iPhones). Why is this? Well, they all start with the device title of iPhone, so only the original can count as innovation.
Ignoring the Samsung Galaxy S, arguably copied the innovation made to the original iPhone, just packaged differently and rebranded. Activision holds in the palm of the hands the innovation that started with 2003’s Call of Duty, and although the multiplayer had not begun the games engine and mechanics far exceeded its closest rivals. Something about 2003’s Call of Duty felt new and fresh, and this my fine people is what innovation feels like. Yep, Call of Duty 4 also counts as innovation given that they transformed the games engine to fit better with the next-generation console, and this was truly inspired by the Xbox 360 and its online capabilities. One piece of tech innovation, Microsoft’s push on tech advancements that could have an online space rivalling their very own PC Windows, and wow did this pay off.
The game engine for Call of Duty has been tweaked and played around with over the years, but the only true in-part innovation for this came with Modern Warfare 2, the final original team of developers Call of Duty development by Infinity Ward. The engine clearly changed entirely, and this is what spiralled a whole new fanbase for the game. Since 2009, every new game engine change has caused promo-to dissatisfaction and newly felt hate for the franchise, so the innovation is going backwards. But, what about the graphics… everything is animation-like and nice? The game engines are bright, with zero grit and bloody violence, and is this not the nature of war. Since 2008’s World at War (a game that adopted the same game engine for its multiplayer mode from Call of Duty 4) had bloody violence and grit. The successors do not. Hmmm, maybe we all now know where the franchise has gone wrong. Activision thought that replacing larger map sceneries and player counts per match, along with the obvious bloody violence and grit needs, could clearly be replaced with bright (family-friendly) scenery, pop in some loot, and no one would cry. Well, they were wrong, some people are clearly thinking of blood and gore, then they think of Call of Duty 2018, and later that evening they cry themselves to sleep.
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