Activision’s head of publishing Eric Hirshberg says that the disappointing critical response of the recently released Call of Duty Ghosts hasn’t diminished fan appreciation. Hirshberg shrugged off the mediocre reviews of the title and basically said that if the fans enjoy it, then that’s all that matters.
“Well no, obviously not – and obviously I don’t agree with the critics there. I know that Call of Duty’s a polarising franchise with some of the critics, and it’s clear to me that not all the critics like our strategy of making a game every year, but thankfully our fans do.”
“It’s also clear to me that the critical response doesn’t always mirror the fans’ appreciation of a game. We actually do read the critics’ comments and take them into consideration during our creative process, but we just can’t measure ourselves by that yardstick alone.”
Activision CEO Bobby Kotick confirmed during the publisher’s Q3 2013 that a new Call of Duty title and Skylanders title will be coming next year. It’s unknown at this point who is developing the next instalment of the immensely popular Call of Duty franchise. Rumours have been going round that suggest Sledgehammer is working on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4.
“Despite short-term uncertainties, as we look forward to 2014, we have a very strong product pipeline. We expect multiple new releases across our major franchises, including the first Diablo III expansion, Reaper of Souls, along with the PS4 version of Diablo III and significant and exciting new content for World of Warcraft. We also expect to launch new Call of Duty and Skylanders titles and a major new potential franchise with Bungie’s Destiny.”
Activision Publishing announced today that the company sold more than $1 billion of Call of Duty: Ghosts into retail stores worldwide as of day one.
“Call of Duty is by far the largest console franchise of this generation,” said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard. “More people have played Call of Duty this year than ever before, logging four billion hours of gameplay. And in the last 12 months, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, including its digital content, generated more revenues than any other console game ever has in a single year. Although it is too early to assess sell-through for Call of Duty: Ghosts, it’s launching at a time when the franchise has never been more popular.”
Millions of people are already playing Call of Duty: Ghosts online. Since its release yesterday, Call of Duty: Ghosts has moved to the #1 spot as the most played game on Xbox Live, according to Microsoft. Additionally, Activision confirmed that on the Xbox 360 videogames and entertainment system from Microsoft, average player sessions for Ghosts have been longer than either Black Ops II or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, during the same time period.
Call of Duty: Ghosts launched at 15,000 midnight openings around the world. Fans around the world shared their excitement in social media, with Call of Duty-related terms trending an astounding 20 times globally on Twitter in the last 24 hours.
“Ghosts is an amazing game which ushers in the next generation of Call of Duty. The team at Infinity Ward has delivered yet another epic thrill ride in the campaign, and what I think is our best multiplayer game yet,” said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing. “This is the must have launch title for the next generation of consoles, and we expect Call of Duty: Ghosts to be the most successful launch title for the Xbox One and PS4 by a wide margin. In fact, according to GameStop, Call of Duty: Ghosts is their most pre-reserved next gen title.”
Former Infinity Ward artist Justin Thomas, who also worked on Medal of Honour: Allied Assault, has told MCV that the popular first person shooter was originally called Medal of Honour killer. Thomas said that the Call of Duty team were devoted to making a better experience than EA’s Medal of Honour offered to consumers. Clearly it would appear that they surpassed their goal, as Call of Duty is now one of gaming’s biggest franchises.
“The project was actually named ‘MOH killer’ until an official name could be found. We were focused more on fun than success, with the idea that if it was fun, it would be successful. We were just going to make a great game, and do the things better than we did on previous projects. The great thing is that a team learns from previous projects.”
The release of Call of Duty: Ghosts, the latest title in the mega popular Call of Duty series, marks the first inclusion of female soldiers in the series. To commemorate the event, Activision has gotten superstar Megan Fox to appear in their latest launch trailer for the game, entitled “Epic Night Out.” The tongue-in-cheek trailer features Megan Fox schooling a foursome of male soldiers with her tough persona, striking good looks, and remarkable knack for firing a pistol, all while Frank Sinatra plays in the background. Call of Duty fans will be able to see if the game itself is as fun as the trailer when it releases worldwide in just a couple days, on November 5th.
Activision has revealed that its new and improved clan system in Call of Duty: Ghosts which allows you to play cross-platform with your team mates won’t be available in the Wii U version of the game. The new clan system only appears to work with Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PC. This will no doubt come as a blow to Wii U owners that were considering purchasing the game and joins many other gimped third-party titles for Nintendo’s latest home console, Wii U.
Clans in Call of Duty: Ghosts will include deeper in-game integration and more features, from in-game Clan Management and Clan–specific playlists to the all-new Call of Duty Clan Wars game mode available in the new Call of Duty app. This year also introduces cross-platform Clans, allowing players to create and/or join a single Call of Duty: Ghosts Clan across the following platforms: including Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC.
The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 1/2D action game has gotten a new launch trailer. The new game made by Activision is based on the popular Nickolodeon TV show and is reminiscent of old Turtles arcade-style games like Turtles In Time. Unfortunately, TMNT is not releasing on Wii U, but instead will see the light of day on Wii and 3DS only. Today is the official release date for the game. Will you be picking up a copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on one of Nintendo’s consoles?
In the latest Nintendo Minute, Kit and Krysta give gamers an up-close preview of the new Skylanders Swapforce game on Wii U. The duo demonstrate players’ ability to swap halves of various Skylanders, and they have a large assortment of the characters on display. Activision is thoroughly supporting Nintendo consoles with the game. In addition to the Wii U edition, the company has released an exclusive pack of three unique characters available only for 3DS. Yesterday’s launch of the game was celebrated by Toys ‘R’ Us, which held a special launch event at select stores during which gamers were able to obtain Limited Edition versions of some of the Skylanders figures.
Toy and game retailer Toys ‘R’ Us has announced that it will host a launch event on Day One of the Skylanders Swap Force release. The special event will feature Limited Edition Swap Force including Legendary versions of Night Shift, Grip Creeper, and Zoo Lou, among other figures, and it will take place on Sunday, October 13th. Toys ‘R’ Us stores will have modified hours to accommodate the game’s launch, as some locations will go all out with a midnight sale, while others will simply open an hour or two early.
Gamers who purchase the 3DS version of the game will have an even greater chance of getting some exclusive Skylanders figures, as Activision recently announced a starter pack for 3DS that features characters not found in any other starter pack. An Activision exec also recently spoke about the originality of the Skylanders concept. Skylanders Swap Force is a multi-platform release with versions launching across the three major Nintendo consoles: Wii U, Wii, and 3DS.
In a new interview, Erich Hirshberg, Activision’s Publishing CEO, addresses a great deal of the online criticism that has been waged against his company. In response to accusations that Activision is a “heartless” big company with too much focus on Call of Duty, Hirshberg says he thinks that “all of the reputational perceptions out there…are incorrect.”
He also acknowledged that the company is often criticized for being “risk-averse” — putting too much of their weight behind sure-thing franchises like Call of Duty, rather than supporting indies and new IP’s. Hirshberg fired back by citing Skylanders as a new IP that “didn’t exist 18 months ago,” and that it is an example of “not only a new IP, but a new genre of play that was totally unproven.” The CEO, who recently stated that Activision would continue to support Wii U despite declining sales, even credited his company with making some of the most well liked games out there.
Do you think Activision deserves the criticism leveled against them, or are they making all the right moves? Here are some full comments made by Hirshberg in the interview:
“I think that we’ve been a little bit more experimental where it comes to mobile games thus far, but I also think that we are who we are as a company — and we’re a very focused company. Look, this is a company of passionate people who make games and love making games. I’m certainly aware of all of the reputational perceptions out there, but I think they’re incorrect and this is a company that has consistently made some of the most well liked and most played gaming experiences. And that hasn’t happened by accident.”
“Our strategy is to do a few things and do them exceptionally well. I think that sometimes people misperceive that as somehow being risk-averse, and yet we’re taking some of the biggest risks in new genres and new business models and new IPs than anybody….Skylanders is a brand that didn’t exist eighteen months ago — people forget that already because it’s been so successful. It was not only a new IP, but a new genre of play that was totally unproven.”