To allow the series the chance to flourish in a new era, it’s time for Call of Duty to abandon the annual release cycle.
It has been a while since a Call of Duty game has impressed me. Starting with Ghosts, every new entry has been either a work of mediocrity or a botched trend chaser. Some tried to stand out but fell short of anything spectacular. Everything changed for the better when Activsion took the series back to its roots. This started with the Modern Warfare reboot and was followed by Black Ops Cold War. This is a good direction for the series but it still needs to embrace one last radical change. That is abandoning series the annual release cycle.
It’s hard to change a habit that has worked for so long. The annual release of a Call of Duty game was once a proud tradition of the gaming community. The release of a new title was less of a launch day and more of an event. Independent game shops and major GameStop’s would make the midnight release into a festive occasion. Fans would socialize over food and drinks while demoing the multiplayer (as they wait for the clock to hit midnight).
Those days are long gone and the launch of a new title has become just another game release. It’s also a sign that Activision needs to rethink the need for an annual release cycle.
The Times are Changing
Nobody wants to tamper with a winning system while “complaining” about it has also become a tradition in its own right. But this is no longer the good ole days. Ask any business leader or consultant and they will tell you that “this is how we always do it” is one of the most dangerous expressions in the workplace. Times change and what was a successful formula five years ago may not be applicable today.
So many other franchise went through a slump only to bounce back again. Ubisoft abandoned the annual release cycle for Assassin’s Creed to allow it to grow. The end result has been some of the best entries in the series since the Enzio Trilogy. Capcom was once hesitant to remake Resident Evil 2 but the success of the HD version of Resident Evil demonstrated a demand to return the series to its horror roots. Activision has done a solid job by taking Call of Duty back to its roots, but it needs to take it easy with the launches. Instead of flooding the market, they need to allow their community to enjoy the games.
Abandoning the annual release cycle would be a win for both Activision and the fans. From Activsions view; without a yearly release will allow more time can to work on the new titles. By this I mean flesh out better stories and try experimenting with new gameplay mechanics. It will also give them some breathing room to then work on other IP’s or give something original the chance to grow.
From a fans perspective, we are set for the next few years. Besides Modern Warfare and Black Ops Cold War, gamers have Warzone (for those who only prefer multiplayer) and Call of Duty Mobile. As of the time of writing this, I’m still playing Cold War and Mobile, I have friends who are either still playing Modern Warfare or are only enjoying Warzone. Also all four of these games are still popular on streaming sites. The point is that, we the fans are happy and feel like the development team needs to take it easy.
The More Things Change
Modern Warfare and Black Ops Cold War were among my favorite games. However the side effects of trying to meet that yearly deadline is showing. To allow the series the chance to flourish a new era, it’s time for Call of Duty to abandon the annual release cycle. It will not be easy to break tradition but it will be worth it for both Activsion and and the fans.
8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides an insight into the video game community and industry of the San Francisco Bay Area.