Trash-talking Battlefield Publisher Predicts Call of Duty Will Collapse 'In 2-3 Years'

Illustration for article titled Trash-talking emBattlefield/em Publisher Predicts emCall of Duty/em Will Collapse In 2-3 Years

EA, the publisher of this fall's Battlefield 3, responded today to a call from their competition for cooler rhetoric with some heated trash talk.

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"Welcome to the big leagues Eric," EA spokesperson Jeff Brown said in a comment issued to Kotaku but adressed to Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision and the man who said in Germany this week that EA's expressed hopes that his company's Call of Duty will "rot from the core" are harmful for the industry.

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"I know you're new in the job," Brown continued, "but someone should have told you this is an competitive industry. You've got every reason to be nervous. Last year Activision had a 90 share in the shooter category. This year, Battlefield 3 is going to take you down to 60 or 70. At that rate, you'll be out of the category in 2-3 years. If you don't believe me, go to the store and try to buy a copy of Guitar Hero or Tony Hawk."

As CEOs or spokespeople often do, Brown was boiling down the heated competition between EA and Activision's shooter games to numbers. The share he refers to is the amount of games sold in a genre go to a single series. The Call of Duty/Modern Warfare dominance in the military shooter genre has frustrated EA, whose Medal of Honor series used to dominate and whose recent Battlefield: Bad Company games, while well-reviewed, couldn't budge the king from his throne. EA's been wanting to take Activision down for a while, with Bad Company, with a revived Medal of Honor but also with the assumption that their best shout would be October's Battlefield 3. That game is aimed to battle with Activision's November-scheduled Modern Warfare 3.

Brown's crack about Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk is a reference to those once-dominant music and sports series falling so badly that neither has a new game out this year.

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Activision has had limited reasons to sweat EA lately. Its Call of Duty and Modern Warfare games have been smashing sales records for several consecutive numbers, easily cracking 10 million copies sold swiftly, ruling online play for months after their release. Activision is on the verge of launching a free and premium Call of Duty community and stat-tracking service and is staging a Call of Duty fan convention next month. Those are either the signs of the bubble Brown believes Battlefield is about to burst or they are the evidence that the juggernaut Call of Duty continues to be in shape to shrug off all comers.

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DISCUSSION

First, I want Call of Duty to die. Infinity Ward is dead, and Treyarch's better when they do their own stuff (see: Nazi Zombies). The franchise ought to die. I also dislike that it's coming out yearly, because I feel it's sacrificed some quality since Modern Warfare's release in 2007.

Most of the people who say that it doesn't require skill to play or that it has low production quality, like Wubbly Bubs down there, are complete idiots.

That said:

"If you don't believe me, go to the store and try to buy a copy of Guitar Hero or Tony Hawk.""

Tony Hawk wasn't killed by its competition, it was killed by the fact that it didn't do anything new and kept coming out. In fact, it declined in quality.

Guitar Hero was similar in that it was killed by its own stagnation, but the incredibly superior Rock Band certainly helped.

Currently, Call of Duty is a different game every time it's released, and I'm not just talking about the campaign. Even casual Call of Duty players, such as myself, recognize the myriad number of small improvements in the game. The haters, if you will, will tell you it's the same shit and isn't worthy of an expansion pack, but they're full of crap, so you can ignore them. The game changes enough to get people to want to play it.

That said, there's something else. Call of Duty is a skill-based game. It's very much a fast-paced, competitive shooter, and its only direct competitor was Medal of Honor, which was a fairly abysmal failure in terms of multiplayer market share and market longevity. Battlefield 3 may have a similar setting, but it hasn't got a Hollywood blockbuster campaign and its multiplayer is a slow-paced team/vehicle oriented deal. They're not direct competitors, and people who want Call of Duty's style of multiplayer aren't going to just give up and move to Battlefield 3, because it's a fundamentally different experience.

It's the same difference between a 3D platformer and a 2D platformer, or a Bethesda RPG and a Bioware RPG. They're not direct competitors. They'll compete for overall market dollars, but they're appealing to different subsets.

"Battlefield: Bad Company games, while well-reviewed, couldn't budge the king from his throne."

Keep in mind what I said about appealing to different subsets, but there's something else too: DICE is, apparently, extremely lazy when it comes to developing games, or at least spends far more time on projects that would take less time at another developer. Bad Company 2 shipped with ten maps (and don't try arguing that their size matters; there are no maps in that game with assets on one map that isn't on another, and the majority of their assets are shared between maps, plus, a lot of the maps use huge amounts of open terrain that's fairly easy to map in comparison to corridors and stuff) and a four hour campaign, or, in other words, less than half the content of Call of Duty.

Even if they were directly competing, any Call of Duty game has more content than Bad Company 2 did, and more than likely (given DICE's last game, Mirror's Edge, had about five hours of content), Battlefield 3 simply won't have that much content.

You may hear people say that Call of Duty is bought only for its multiplayer, but this is bullshit. Whenever a multiplayer-only FPS is released, it tends to sell like shit, much the same way an FPS with a less-than-eight-hour campaign sells (the major exception being Black Ops, which is the shortest of the Call of Duties I've played, clocking in at around six hours).

Personally, I'm going to have more fun with Battlefield 3, which I've already preordered. I'll probably pick up Modern Warfare 3 a few months down the line on a Steam sale or something. DICE's game will definitely have more meaning for me, and I hope it does well.

If you don't like Call of Duty, then make some legitimate complaints. Stop bashing it for the things where it actually trounces the competition. Start complaining about the price of the map packs, if you want, or the weakness of Treyarch's entry.