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Kotick: BF3 unproven on consoles
Written by jockyitch   
Saturday, 11 June 2011

Activision head Bobby Kotick thought it prudent to push back on some of the phenomenal props EA's BF3 has been getting at E3, and in so doing, continued to denigrate CoD's once-loyal PC customers.

“So far I’ve only seen Battlefield 3 shown on a PC, I haven’t seen it on a console which is where the bulk of our business is...if it’s just a PC title, as it looks like today, that’s a very small audience to participate...we're always interested to see what our competitor is doing.”

The "just a PC title" and "a very small audience" crack were clearly not supposed to be insults, but to me they very much come across that way. While we may not make up the core audience for CoD, I would have liked Kotick to at least pay lip service to the platform that put his little money machine on the map.

How much longer can PC customers continue to support a franchise that talks to us like this? Will Activision be surprised to find that they are actually driving away their "very small" PC audience right into the arms their rivals. Furthermore, that drive is accelerating when you consider that some of these other franchises are now going out of their way to specifically cater to us?

High tide

When asked whether MW3 will exceed previous franchise sales, Kotick said that MW3 is even more popular than previous variants.  He mentioned that Google searches are trending higher than past games for it.

I thought I would check his facts. Click on the following link to see a Google Insight chart showing relative interest in the last franchise releases (MW3, BO, MW2, WW, CoD4):

Franchise Popularity

Look at the numbers for May, six months before each game's release: e.g. May 2011 for MW3, May 2010 for BO and May 2009 for MW2...etc.).

While MW3 interest has been greater than MW2 and CoD4 in their respective time periods, MW3 interest in May 2011 was actually less than interest in Black Ops back in 2010. This is contrary, to Kotick's assertion.

Does this mean that we have seen the high water mark for CoD? Will the game now slowly fade away? I would like to see the Google trend stats for June, but personally, I don't see MW3 eclipsing Black Ops for critical acclaim. In fact, we may have already witnessed high tide for Call of Duty.

Reason for the fade

After Infinity Ward imploded last year, many hardcore gamers were suspicious that the four companies that now are involved with MW3, could supersede Zampella and West's crew (now at Respawn). While Sledgehammer and Ravensoft had decent, but not stellar reputations, could they come anywhere near IW's prowess?

The perception of lower quality came soon enough.

E3 watchers winced as they saw Rob Bowling fall prey to a technical blip that marred the initial few minutes of his MW3 demo performance at the event (conspiracy theorists actually doubt he was even controlling the game: link). 

Technical glitch aside, this year's CoD seemed like we'd seen it before. Most dev studios would give their eye-teeth for the quality that was witnessed in the MW3 demo, but just matching previous CoD's is not what the franchise is all about. You have to exceed last year's release...exceed in both artistic and technical terms.

This year's CoD might be just "as good" but not better than last year's. That's not good enough. Especially not with BF3 blowing everyone's socks off.

Love lost

With BF3 still an unproven entity, there is still nothing out there that feels like CoD; however, no matter how it feels, it has become nearly impossible to continue to love this game, when so little love is being returned by the game's maker.

I am sure that for PC gamers, even though their tide against CoD turned a long time ago, it is sad to see their former game starting to show its age; however, statements like the one above from Kotick, indicate that reconciliation is nowhere in sight. 

"Never cry over somebody who would not cry over you " - Unknown

 
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