Time for another edition of Random Encounters, where I share my thoughts on a variety of subjects that are currently on my mind:
1. I have no proof and only baseless Internet speculation, but I can’t help but wonder if Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag was originally a side-story like the Ezio trilogy and was rebranded as a numbered sequel in order to take people’s mind off the bitter disappointment that was Assassin’s Creed 3. It just seems odd that the AC 4 is in roughly the same time period and is a prequel, which means it might not even forward the Desmond story set in the future. We will have to wait and see, but if that is the case, it’s kind of disgusting, akin to Square Enix allegedly releasing Final Fantasy Versus XIII as Final Fantasy XV.
An unintended side-effect of the long-standing legal battle between former Infinity Ward head honchos Jason West and Vincent Zampella and Activision is the reveal of the specifics behind Bungie’s contract with the publisher. Brought to light as part of the court-case, the 27 page agreement between the Bellevue, Washington studio and Activision details the plans for the studios’ new shooter, code-named Destiny.
There’s plenty of legalese in the document but the basic gist of it is that Bungie has signed on for a four game deal, the first of which is set to drop in 2013 for the Xbox 360. Subsequent games will be released on the next generation systems (aggravatingly, the agreement calls the 360 successor the “Xbox 720″) including the PS3 follow up and PCs. The games will be spaced to come out every other year with additional content packs called “Comet” filling in the gaps. Destiny is not strictly a “sci-fi” game but rather a “sci-fantasy” shooter. What that means exactly isn’t clear, so we’ll have to wait for a more specific reveal on that. The contract also stipulates that Bungie is working to revive their classic Marathon franchise.
Bungie’s official response, entitled “Well, that just happened” all but confirms this as fact, promising that the official reveal is coming soon and we’ll be seeing them starside in 2013.
What do you guys think about this? Is it unfair to Bungie to have their secret work revealed without much fanfare? Is this a low blow by West and Zampella’s lawyers to expose another developer? What do you think of the working conditions Bungie is under in the contract? Thoughts on what “sci-fantasy” means?
After the well-publicized falling out of Infinity Ward and Activision, the Modern Warfare franchise returns with (presumably) the final chapter in the world-devastating saga. There is no question that this game would sell a ton of copies, but the real question is can the remnants of Infinity Ward, along with a little help from their friends at Sledgehammer, maintain the quality that the fans demand?
When playing video games, all manner of thoughts usually pop into my head. Some are far too graphic to share here and are off-topic besides, but I’ve decided to post my thoughts in a quick-thought format about a variety of topics. Sometimes things don’t warrant a full post by themselves, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still talk about them right?
In a move that’s sure to raise eyebrows, Activision Blizzard (via the Wall Street Journal) have announced that they will finally try to add the long-rumored monthly subscription to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 when the game launches this fall. While the exact services and price are still being discussed some portions are suspected to be things like in-depth stats-tracking and a Facebook-like webpage.
Call of Duty Elite will not be mandatory, at least not at this juncture, as Activision confirmed that non-subscribers will still be able to play online, but the company is being very hush-hush about what capabilities the hold-outs will have. Call of Duty Elite purchasers will get access to post-launch map packs as part of their subscription.
Call of Duty is one of the only video game franchises that can pull this off, having an enormous player base that seems content to drop sixty plus dollars on the titles every year. Call of Duty Elite is said to be an enormous investment for Activision, despite the fact that similar services are provided by Bungie for the Halo franchise for free.
Other than releasing several teaser trailers confirming what we already knew, Activision has been strangely silent, like a slumbering giant, regarding the leak of tons of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 info. But that giant is now awake and…is surprisingly docile about the whole thing.
“We woke up with a marketing crisis and wanted to go to bed with a marketing win. “So what we did was we kind of took that exact conversation we were having in our conference room outside and had it publicly in social media. Through our various channels, through Robert Bowling at IW, through Facebook and through our YouTube channel, we reached out to our fans and we said, ‘Look, we didn’t schedule this. This wasn’t something we had planned. But everyone seems excited, so we’re just going to roll with it. So here they are, a couple of assets that weren’t scheduled to be out for another couple of weeks, we’re going to release ‘em to you today.’”
The interview goes on and he says obviously they aren’t happy with it and are investigating the leak, but until then, he doesn’t want to comment on it. He also didn’t mention Kotaku or any possible consequences the website may be facing from Activision for their role in the leak.
We all know what I think about this, but I am pleased to see that Activision didn’t let it bother them and decided to roll with the punches and make the most of a forced opportunity. What do you think? Are they being too soft or just right? GO!
Without a doubt, the biggest story of the past week has been the extensive leaking of highly spoiler-ish and relevant story and level details from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 by the popular gaming site Kotaku. Modern Warfare 3 is easily the most anticipated game of the year, in terms of popularity and, of course, financially, so a story like this would naturally attract tons of attention. It’s easy to see why: Modern Warfare 2 was the biggest game of all time at its launch, now surpassed only by Call of Duty: Black Ops and likely to be surpassed again by Modern Warfare 3. It’s not exactly a mystery why this leak generated such a huge response.
But something bothers me a great deal about this. I think this is a huge story, but not for the reasons that most others do. I think Kotaku erred in leaking these details. In fact, I would go as far as to say that Kotaku commited a very great wrong, one that not only damages Activision and the Call of Duty brand, but also the entire video game industry and its myriad partners, including the world of video game journalism. And the fact that only a select few have even noticed this bothers me even more.
You see, maybe I’m old fashioned, but I truly believe that journalism, even video game and entertainment journalism, is a noble profession with a set of ethics that all who practice it should adhere to. Journalism is there to protect people by exposing lies and keeping the powers that be honest. Reporters take the time to check the facts because we the people don’t have the time and resources to do so ourselves. They are a vital part of this world and one that should be embraced instead of marginalized.
We all know two things are certain every year: A Call of Duty game will come out in November and it will be the biggest game of the year. Well, you can rest easy because it looks like all is right with the world, as the L.A. Times is reporting that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 will be released this November, as expected. Please be aware this isn’t confirmed by Activision yet.
What’s interesting about this is that the article states that Sledgehammer is working closely with Infinity Ward to get the title ready and Raven Software is helping out with the online multiplayer aspect. If true, this would destroy all the predictions that were made about Sledgehammer and Raven working on a separate Call of Duty title. I am rather glad to hear this, actually. I want Modern Warfare 3 before any other kind of Call of Duty series starts up.
What do you think? Would Activision go to such lengths to protect their cash cow? I think so. Are you excited about this or has the backlash still tainted you? Speak!
Call of Duty is something of a phenomenon, a strange black hole that gamers throw their money into year after year. No matter how tired we get of the previous entry, there’s something that keeps us coming back to the franchise even when we swear that we’re done. It used to be the tight, focused single player mode, but that’s given way to the addictive multiplayer component. Now that Modern Warfare 2 has bruised our fragile psyche in that respect, it’s fallen to the underdog, Treyarch Studios, to breath life back into the franchise.
Even though Treyarch is pegged as the B-team for Call of Duty, churning out sequels in the off years, they’ve never really had a chance to strike out on their own. Seemingly forced to make games based on World War 2 after their audience had moved on, every Call of Duty that didn’t have the Modern Warfare moniker was almost destined to fail. Something different happened this time, though, and this new Call of Duty is set on the sidelines, focusing on the deadly Black Ops special forces soldiers who went behind enemy lines and did the dirty deeds no one would know about. With a new era and a new focus, does Call of Duty: Black Ops deliver the goods?
If you weren’t watching ESPN tonight for whatever reason, then you may have missed the full length trailer for Call of Duty: Black Ops. The teaser went up a few days ago, but good things come to those who wait, right? Because you’ve been patient, we have the trailer embeded right below for you. Go ahead and get a quick look at the single player campaign of Call of Duty: Black Ops:
Say what you will about Treyarch and their previous efforts, I kind of like the behind-the-scenes, cloak-and-dagger setting that the game is building, which is different from what Call of Duty usually gives us. While I’m sure the game will involve all the bombastic action that we’re used to, having an opportunity to fight through the Cold War is a new one for us gamers. Now that we’ve seen a bit more on the single player for Black Ops, any thoughts? Do you have doubts after Modern Warfare 2, or do you think Treyarch will succeed in single player?
If you’re into online First Person Shooters, you’ve probably come to accept that all of them incorporate some sort of XP progression/unlock system at this point. This fad started gaining steam with Call of Duty 4, and it has been carried over to almost every other shooter since then. Fittingly, Black Ops takes this into the ridiculous territory with the customizations that will be allowed in game. Call of Duty usually avoided having the player customize their in-game avatar, but Black Ops will allow you to give your persona everything from face paint to armor and customized sights for your guns. Seriously, this video borders on ludicrous once the developers start detailing the different kinds of emblems you can emblazon your firearm with. Take a look:
While this is really cool, I think they lost me around the custom red-dot sight part. At some point you’re just adding too much to the investment system, and constantly dangling carrots in front of people gets annoying more often than not. As much as I love Halo: Reach, the poor design of the rank/armor system has really been rankling me (it takes forever to make it past Warrant Officer). Hopefully Black Ops will not suffer the same fate by making more options available faster. So, see anything that catches your fancy? Are you getting sick of shooter with a huge focus on ranks and unlocks?
One of the surprise features in Treyarch’s 2008 Call of Duty entry World at War was the inclusion of the four-player co-op mode Nazi Zombies. Fans of CoD were originally dismissive of this offering, but those of us who played it quickly fell in love with the shambling hordes of Third Reich undead. Nazi Zombies featured a scaling difficulty that meant later rounds necessitated a good team working together, otherwise your soft flesh would quickly provide sustenance for the ravening swarm.
Nazi Zombies quickly gained in popularity throughout World at War’s life-span, with Treyarch adding new maps and even a mythology behind the game. Now that the Call of Duty off-team is up to bat again, they’re putting Nazi Zombies into Black Ops, but tuning it up for the upcoming release. Studio head Mark Lamia gave this little snippet in regards to the return of the walking dead:
“Zombies have been such a hit with our community that we were committed to bringing brand new zombie experiences to Call of Duty: Black Ops. We’ve taken extra special care to retain the essential ingredients of our Zombie game, and have also crafted a nice surprise for the fans.”
There’s nothing else beyond that, but one can only imagine what Nazi Zombies (or Communist Zombies?) is going to look like after two years in development. There have been a lot of changes to Call of Duty since then, so one can only suppose that the mode will change to compensate. I know that my purchase of Black Ops hinged on a Zombie mode, but what about you guys? Ready to kill some whiskey deltas? When more details unfold, we will be sure to include them. If you’re the kind of person who likes a good teasing, Call of Duty: Black Ops site GKNOVA6 has what you’re looking for.
Now that the release of Halo: Reach is behind us, did you think that we were at the end of the Halo related posts? We’re not out of the woods yet, kiddies, because Microsoft has a bit of news for us. Hot on the heels of Bungie’s super-awesome swan song, Microsoft and 343 Industries (the folks taking over the Halo franchise) have announced that they have a few plans for Master Chief and pals, and the first step is to ramp up the number of Halo releases we’re going to see. Typically, it’s a fairly long length of time between Halo games, about three years, but the success Activsion has had with yearly Call of Duty releases has been a source of inspiration for MS and 343.
Corporate Vice President for Microsoft Game Studios Phil Spencer recently had a little talk with IGN about the future of Halo post-Bungie and what we can look forward to for the next few years. While Mr. Spencer did say that a yearly schedule wasn’t the rule, he did also state the the long delay between releases is detrimental for fans of the series. Out of sight, out of mind, that sort of thing (ignoring the fact that Halo 3 is still charting on the top ten played XBL games to this day, but anyways). Phil went on the explain exactly how their new business model got its roots from Activision and Call of Duty:
I think Spider-Man may rank in first place for having the most alternate dimension spin-offs. You have Spider-Man 2099, Ultimate, Manga, India, 1602, Reign; the list goes on and on. Despite the fact that there’s dozens of Spider-Men to draw inspiration from for a game, we’ve generally stuck to the same old Peter Parker with a few exceptions (such as last gen’s Ultimate Spider-Man). Franchise new-comer Beenox decided to tap into the rich tapestry of Spidey’s history and bring together four different version of the web-slinger-Amazing, Noir, 2099 and Ultimate-for a cross-dimensions web-fest. With four different play styles and multiple possibilities, how well does Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions do in delivering the definitive Spider-Man game?
EA recently launched a new initiative a while back in which a unique code (such as Bad Company 2′s VIP or Mass Effect 2′s Cerberus Network) would incentivize purchasers not to trade their games back in by offering exclusive access to downloadable content (used game buyers would have to pay a fifteen dollar fee to access such a service). EA Sports also branched out with their own version of this program with the Online Pass, a one-time use token that would allow gamers to play the online portions of upcoming sports titles like Tiger Woods and Madden. Naturally, there was a bit of a backlash, but EA is just trying to protect itself from the ravenous jaws of the used game industry. So far, this is the only solution put forward by a publisher to actively combat trade ins, but is it the best one?
Enter Mark Lamia of Treyarch Studios, currently the developer of the upcoming Black Ops and potential savior of the Call of Duty series’ image amongst gamers. He maintains that a strong multiplayer segment and good post-launch support is the key to keep people playing your game long past the point of considering a trade-in. Teryarch still has a section of their studio working on keeping World at War fun, and they expect to dish out a lot of content for Black Ops. Instead of moving on immediately to the next project, they will be focusing on keeping fans engaged in the hopes that they’ll continue playing without gimmicks like VIP passes and online access codes, even if you bought the game used. With the new additions to multiplayer features like Wager Matches, replays and bringing back dedicated servers on the PC, Black Ops looks like it’s shaping up to be a proper title.
What do you guys think about his statement? What incentives would keep you from trading a game in? Online codes for first time purchasers, or a lot of DLC regardless of how you came by the title?
On the internet, everything must be taken with a grain of salt, which is why Wikipedia is no longer a valid source for information when writing a paper for school. Simply put, there are too many untrustworthy people who are much, much smarter than the vast majority of us, and they use their talents to disguise erroneous facts as the truth. This video, though, seems to be pretty legitimate to me. Apparently an X-Box LIVE user attempted to connect to a friend’s game, only to be bounced to a Marketplace page that announced that a Membership plan was necessary, but not available yet. Take a look at the video and decide for yourself.
The top of the screen clearly has the beginning of “membership” before it is cut off by the size limitation. What do you guys think? Will Modern Warfare 2 follow a WoW-based route, or is this for something different? Treat this as a rumor for now until we have official word from Activision. It wouldn’t surprise me, though.
As reviled as Activision is among the hardcore gamer population, the constant success of their franchises really makes me wish I bought some stock in the company. Whether they’re printing money with World of Warcraft or breaking sales records all over the globe with Call of Duty, Activision seems to be doing quite well for themselves.
While Call of Duty may be experiencing a little fatigue brand-wise, there’s no question that the next installment, Black Ops, will still pull in massive numbers over the holiday season. An analyst for Pacific Crest Securities has predicted that, even with the current kerfuffle between Activision and CoD-creating studio Infinity Ward, Black Ops is outpacing Modern Warfare 2 for pre-orders at this current time. His information comes from some of his “retail contacts”, so take from that what you will. The same analyst also says that even though Black Ops will have a greater number of pre-orders, he expects it to only move about 12 million copies during the holiday season, about four million less than Modern Warfare 2 did.
Black Ops is coming into a tough market this season with a lot of big-name titles from competing publishers hoping to vie for consumer’s holiday dollars. Could this be the first step on the road to mediocrity for Call of Duty, or do you think that the veteran franchise will have another stellar year? Has anyone pre-ordered this yet?
Well, bad news for fans of Treyarch’s Spider-Man games, all four of you: the developer recently revealed in an interview with CVG that they are all about the Duty now. Call of Duty, that is.
That’s right, everyone’s favorite B-team in the CoD bullpen has forsaken all others to focus exclusively on Activision’s Call of Duty franchise. They claim this has been the case for sometime and is not a result of the hoopla involving Infinity Ward that you might have heard of. I can’t really blame Activision for such a decision, as despite my pre-release hating, World At War was actually really good. Treyarch even has a whole team dedicated to just multiplayer, which can’t be a bad thing. Right?
How do you guys feel about this sudden change in focus for Treyarch?
Well, that was fast. Only a few weeks after the teaser trailer, Activision and Treyarch have dropped another video for Black Ops on us, bestowing us with visions of the upcoming Vietnam-era (and beyond?) shooter. While the trailer is pretty light on story, it does show stoic men with firearms and plenty of explosions, and isn’t that what we want from Call of Duty? Take a look and tell us what you think:
Like many of the PC gaming faithful on this very website, I was a bit dissapointed in Infinity Ward’s decision to use a peer-to-peer matchmaking service for their multiplayer. While it was fun for a bit, the amount of glitchers and hackers I would run into during every single match became a bit much. I quit playing that game in January, and I haven’t looked back (mostly because of how awesome Bad Company 2 is).
With a new Call of Duty on the horizon, you would expect developer Treyarch to continue on with IW’s plan of no dedicated servers, right? Fortunetly, Treyarch is thinking for themselves this time around, and studio head Mark Lamia recently went on record with PC Zone (via CVG) saying that he thinks, quote:
…dedicated servers are excellent. I don’t see any reason not to see them unless… well, I just don’t see any reason not to.”
Honestly, I think this is good news for the Call of Duty franchise. When you take out dedicated servers, and with it the ability of admins to moderate the player base, what you get is an unholy mess, where only those with the latest aimbot hack comes out on top. I’m still not digging this new Call of Duty that much, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. What do you guys think? Good news? Enough to get you to purchase yet another CoD?