Last week, we started to take an in-depth look at Call of Duty as a franchise and what we think they need to do to ensure that they are dominant over the next few years. Towards the end of 2012, analysts started talking about the fact that sales figures for the iconic franchise may actually be trending down from what they had previously been over the last few years.
More than likely, this is not a cause for concern but it's really the first time that legitimate analysts have discussed the fact that Call of Duty might have finally peaked. If this is the case, Activision will ultimately have to make some smart decisions to ensure that Call of Duty doesn't suffer the same tragic fate that befell EA's Medal of Honor series. That franchise was once a leading player in the first-person shooter market but after the attempted series reboot didn't pan out, the publisher was forced to put Medal of Honor on the back shelf for the time being because it just wasn't successful anymore.
In the first installment of this series, we focused on innovation and how Call of Duty developers need to be encouraged to get more creative in their games. We would even go as far as to say that the board should be erased and Call of Duty built again from scratch; new engine, new features, new mechanics but with the same core fundamentals that make Call of Duty such a fun series to play.
Today, I'm going to look at another major pillar that I think Call of Duty needs to be rebuilt upon and that is community generated content.
Community Generated Content
To see how successful community-developed content can be, one doesn't have look any further than Valve's Counter-Strike franchise. Hands down one of the most iconic first-person shooter franchises of them all, Counter-Strike has passed the test of time and with good reason. Valve has mastered longevity in their games and that can be almost entirely attributed to smart development, engaging gameplay and community generated content.
Valve has always been open to releasing modification tools for their games, whether it be level creators, map design tools or anything in between. Not only have they allowed mod support but they've encouraged it, especially with the Steam Workshop where you have players who are making actual money creating in-game maps, items, cosmetic gear and game modes.
With this support comes years and years of additional life for their game. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive served as the follow-up to Counter-Strike: Source, a game that was released eight years before it. Yet Source was still a popular game with both casual and competitive players, nearly a decade after it's release. To us, that popularity can be firmly credited to the game being solid and enjoyable as well as the fact that dozens upon dozens of community-generated maps, game modes and modifications were being released after the game launched in 2004.
And let's face it, community-generated content is often just as good, if not better than the stuff that ships with the game.
Activision has a built-in content-generating machine at their disposal, and yet they refuse to acknowledge or support that community. Instead, the only post-launch content that players receive comes in the form of a handful of (let's face it, overpriced) DLC expansion packs. Players have the potential to have access to hundreds of community-designed maps that would enable them to have fresh Call of Duty content on virtually a daily basis, propelling a single game to years of enjoyment without having to fork over another $100 every year.
Let's take a look at this in a practical example. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive were released around the same time and both offer downloadable maps in some fashion. Here is how they stack up against each other:
That graphic pretty much speaks for itself.
Long story short, here, folks, Call of Duty could have a world of content available to it if Activision chose to open the doors.
It's not as if they can't do it, just look at the first generation of Call of Duty titles. Hell, look no further than the Galactic Warfare mod for Call of Duty 4. Community members got together and flat out recreated Star Wars environments, themes and weapons in Call of Duty and all thanks to the fact that Activision, at that time, was more lenient when it came to mod support and the independent designers in the community responded with this kind of enthusiasm.
I don't know about you guys, but I'd sure love to tear it up on Hijacked with a Bowcaster.
Let's get on that, Activision.