Activision Publishing CEO, Eric Hirshberg, discusses the annual release philosophy as opposed to year round activity that the Call of Duty franchise is seeing.
“There’s a unique behavior for gamers related to that game [Call of Duty]… it has this incredibly long tail and people play it all year round and that has forced, or enabled, the company to change the way we look at it because, to our players, it’s not an annual retail release,” Hirshberg stated in a Games Industry interview.
“It’s a year-round activity. So, if you look at it like an annual retail release, by those standards, it’s easy to get nervous.” Then, he went on to liken the Call of Duty franchise to how the NFL operates. He stated, “but if you look at it through a different lens; if you look at it like, the NFL happens every year and people like it every year and they obsess over it every year and they come back for more every year and I think that it’s an entertainment relationship that’s pretty unique in the gaming space.”
On the subject of whether the franchise is inching closer to its peak, which the latest NPD numbers suggested and Hirshberg refuted, he noted, “let me also say that you can’t find a metric that would indicate that it’s fatiguing or that there are signs of slowing.” He continued, “the concurrency of players is higher than ever and not only that, it’s across several games. I think that the top three most played games on Xbox Live are the last three Call of Duty games.” The latest Call of Duty numbers suggested over 40 million active monthly users across all titles.
“It’s just not reflective of what our gamers clearly want. If you start from that place, of looking at what gamers want and what their behavior would suggest – they want more DLC, they want more new gameplay experiences. And so, we’re starting with that and building it out. We’re not starting with the conventional wisdom of the industry and going in,” Hirshberg added regarding how the industry paints annual releases in negative light.