With the declining numbers of Call of Duty players and less than spectacular reviews for annual release franchises, it’s easy to see that the average gamer is fed up with the clearly money grabbing tactics of developers and publishers.
Milking the cash cow
Activision Blizzard has always been known for squeezing every penny out of the consumer and until now it has worked. At any one time they have 3 studios working on a Call of Duty title to ensure an annual release goes ahead. During the early days of COD this was a highlight of the gaming calendar but releasing a game year after year seems to be taking its toll and the player base is dropping. With a game releasing every year, there’s not a lot of innovation going on and the games are leaning far too heavily on microtransactions rather than delivering quality that’ll sell. It’s not only the gamers that have suffered due to the increased pressure of the workload, you only need to google “Activision Blizzard” and you’ll be hit with many articles and news pieces on the working culture within the business. Corporate greed and discrimination have been at the heart of many accusations thrown at the company and many have called for the resignation of Bobby Kotick their current head. Rumour has it with Xbox taking over people’s wishes may just be about to come true.
Delaying releases can help
You only have to take a good look at the reviews of the last three Assassin’s Creed games and compare them to the three that came before to show just how well taking a break can work. Valhalla, Odyssey and Origins scored 84, 87 and 85 respectively on Metacritic, while Syndicate, Unity and Rogue only managed 76,70 and 71. Not only does it help improve the quality of the game produced but allows for more content to be released for the games that gamers clearly want to play. Sometimes a breather is just what the doctor ordered. Ubisoft has now reported that AC Valhalla has topped more than $1 billion dollars in revenue, so it’s easy to see the benefits that a staggered release can bring.
Will Microsoft cure the fatigue?
Whether you’re an Xbox fan or not, it’s hard to argue that Microsoft has done wonders for the gaming industry as a whole in the last few years. With Phil Spencer at the helm Xbox has steamed forward with the hugely popular Gamepass giving gamers one of the best deals around, add on top of that a focus on backwards compatibility and gamers are spoilt for choice. Their recent announcement to acquire Activision Blizzard has a lot of people worried but is that worry misplaced? In a recently released Wall Street Journal statement Call of Duty is “suffering under its own weight and schedule” and then went on to add that “Microsoft has other major shooter franchises like Halo and Gears of War that are successful without annual releases”. Microsoft could be the perfect company to usher Activision Blizzard and the COD franchise into the future and breathe fresh life into a stagnating series.
More than just a break.
Breaking the annual release of games not only gives the gamers a much-needed respite but the developers too. It gives them more time to polish the releases and deliver higher quality games (still looking at you COD). Recent releases show why rushing a game to release isn’t always a good thing, Cyberpunk 2077 and GTA remastered are perfect examples of what can happen when the developers are pushed for a release. As well as giving our favourite series’ new life it may actually free up developers to produce whole new IP’s and who knows what marvels the future will then hold.
With developers now taking heed of gamers’ criticisms. We could be in for an interesting few years