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7Dec 12Following the news that Michael Pachter, the Wedbush Securities industry analyst, says Activision has made a mistake by not charging for the multiplayer element; I decided to look at what Activision could do with the franchise in the future. The last three games, Black Ops, Modern Warfare 3 and Black Ops 2, have all broken records for number of sales and money made (each game made around $1bn just weeks after their release dates), but its never enough for a big business like Activision, especially with news that their latest release, Black Ops 2, is beginning to slow in sales, despite it still being the best-selling game of November 2012. Below, I look at three things they could do to keep the money coming in for the new games in the Call of Duty series.
1. Subscription model
This is what Pachter suggested they should have done by now; charge gamers a monthly fee to play the multiplayer mode of CoD games. At the Digital Games Monetization Summit in San Francisco, California, Pachter was quoted as saying, "That's just like the people who play World of Warcraft and never stop, yet the World of Warcraft guys are paying $180 a year, and the Call of Duty guys are paying $60. So who's got a better model?"
So Activision could potential double their money if everyone who buys a CoD game opts to subscribe for the multiplayer, but would people be happy to do this? It seems many would, as the Call of Duty Elite scheme, which acted as a hub for all of your CoD games, letting you compare stats and get access to DLC map packs faster, had around 4 million subscribers before it switched to a free model. That means 4 million people were happy to pay an extra $50 a year for their CoD experience, so surely those people would be more than happy to pay a fee for the multiplayer.
However, there are many people who would be opposed to such a move, as a lot of gamers have become increasing vocal about the sheer amount of DLC content that is launched for every CoD game, which doesnt come free (Modern Warfare 3s four major map packs in total cost about the game price as the original game). If gamers had to pay to extra to play online, on top of the $60, £40 for the actual game and the additional costs of the DLC, many of them could feel priced out of the Call of Duty experience.
2. Multiplayer game only
This could be another option for Activision, be it a controversial. The average CoD campaign (the single player mode) is around six or seven hours long, with Modern Warfare 3 coming in at just over five hours long on average. The main appeal of CoD games has always been the multiplayer, with many seeing the campaign simply as a training exercise to get you ready for the hours of online gaming you will have (many people Ive played against on Xbox Live have clearly not even touched the single player mode, having viewed their profile and seeing no single player achievements). So could Activision do this? Could they really sell the next CoD as multiplayer only?
It would save them a lot of money, as production costs of the game would be slashed by millions of dollars if the opted against a single player mode. They wouldnt have to pay actors to voice major characters, as they could just get anyone off the street to shout Frag out! for the multiplayer voices. And seeing as many people dont really care about the single player to begin with, it seems like a lot of gamers wouldnt miss it.
But would real gamers seriously pay full price for a game that doesnt even have an actual campaign? Especially if they would still have to pay for the additional map packs that would be subsequently released? I doubt it. Despite being short and at times very clichéd, the single player of CoD games is still an important part of the franchise. Removing that would remove great characters such as Captain Price and Soap, as well as the dramatic, jaw-dropping moments, such as the nuclear explosion of Call of Duty 4. Removing the single player would remove the soul of the franchise.
3. Choose your own maps
This is something Ive just come up with off the top of my head, but you never know. Instead of the standard maps included with the game, and then the additional ones released as DLC, why not give the gamer the option to choose what maps he wants. Have say 10 basic maps included with the game, then let the player buy additional maps in whatever order they want. If someone wants to play the Airport map from MW2, Jungle from Black Ops and even Battery from World at War on their new CoD game then let them. Instead of just giving them the new maps to buy in a certain order, let them buy a Map Choice pack, which will give them the choice of say four or five maps from the entire CoD back-catalogue to choose from. This would get in the way of Activisions DLC model, but it could work. CoD gamers all have their favourite maps from certain games, so if they had the chance to play any map from any game on their new one, I think many would jump at the opportunity.
So there are a few things Activision could do with the Call of Duty franchise. However, I hope that they never do any of them. Gaming seems to be costing more and more as the years go by, especially with the advent of DLC and online passes stopping many from playing second hand games. Charging a subscription for online gaming, on top of an Xbox Live Gold account, would price many people out of playing their favourite series. And if they implemented the subscription model, whilst also dropping the single player, gamers would have no other option but to pay the monthly fee.
Except, of course, walking away from CoD and playing something else entirely.
3Dec 12Video game reviews have always been seen by many as pivotal to their decision to buy a certain game. If it gets a rave review, theyll be all over it. But if its a dud, theyll avoid putting £40 (or $60) down for it. However, with the demise of gaming magazines and the rise of online, user-generated reviews, it seems that many people dont really care what official reviews have to say anymore.
If you read a review of a game on sites like Gamespot and IGN and scroll through the comments you will most likely see a mass debate with people criticising the critic. When a generally-disliked game like CoD: Black Ops gets a good score the review gets slated, and when an anticipated, interesting game gets a lower score than expected, the review again gets slated. It seems most people have an idea of how good a game will be and just read reviews to confirm this view. But if that is the case, then why comment judging the writer when the review isnt what you wanted? Opinions on what makes a good game are so varied that its not possible for everyone to like a particular game. Even with something like San Andreas, there are probably a handful of people who didnt like it. Hell, even reviewers cant agree on how good a game is! IGN gave the newly-released Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse a 6 out of 10, whereas Metro gave it a dismal 2 out of 10. Thats quite a difference in scores, which surely proves what probably seems obvious; reviews are just opinions.
If a game youve been looking forward to only gets a 6 or 7, it doesnt mean you shouldnt get it. Black Ops got an 8 but Ive no intention of buying it, but I cant wait for the apparently terrible Family Guy game. Its all about personal preference. A game that might have gotten a good score if reviewed by someone else might get slammed just because the guy doing it hates the genre. There are even sometimes claims that a game gets generous reviews from certain sites because of advertising revenues from the publishers.
So, theres no need to get worked up over video game reviews. If you dont agree with them, just ignore them. They dont have to be taken as fact. As Ive seen many people say online, Its just a number.
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