Activision Admits Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Failure

Posted on February 10, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Games with 18 Comments

Activision Admits Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Failure

I’m not surprised that Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare hasn’t met expectations. But people misunderstand Activision’s new direction for the series.

And people who should know better, too.

During a financial earnings conference call this week, Activision Blizzard COO Eric Hirshberg admitted that the latest Call of Duty game, Infinite Warfare, hasn’t met the firm’s lofty expectations.

Infinite Warfare had a ton of great gameplay innovations. But it also had a setting that didn’t appeal to all of our fans.

Then he stated the following:

In 2017, Activision will take Call of Duty back to its roots, and traditional combat will once again take center stage. This is what our dedicated community of Call of Duty players and Sledgehammer Games, developing this year’s title, are the most excited about.

But then everyone—including the gaming press, who should know better—attributed the 2017 change to the lack of success of the 2016 title. Which is incorrect.

Folks, Call of Duty games take years to make. Not one year, but years. That’s why there are three studios making these games, with one release each year. So the “setting” of the 2016 title, has no bearing on the coming 2017 title. That new game was locked down a long time ago.

What the disappointing Infinite Warfare results really mean—and, by the way, it was still the best-selling game of the holidays—is that this series will not continue.

And since most of you probably don’t realize this, it’s not the first time it’s happened. In fact it’s the third time. The third time in a row.

After the stellar successes of the Modern Warfare and Black Ops series, Activision and tried and failed to jumpstart new COD series three times, with Ghosts, Advanced Warfare, and now Infinite Warfare.

The first of those, Ghosts, was the last “traditional” COD game, and frankly I am surprised they did not continue with that as a series. The single player was fine, and the multiplayer was superb. Still is. In fact, Ghosts is an under-appreciated high point for the series.

Since Ghosts, Activision has released three “non-traditional” COD games, meaning futurist settings and that the multiplayer featured jet packs and more vertical play styles. Two of these, Advanced Warfare and Infinite Warfare were terrible: It is not coincidental that I stopped playing both in the year following each release; after AW shipped, I just played older 360-based COD games for the next year, and now I’m playing Modern Warfare Remastered instead of Infinite Warfare.

But here’s the thing.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III, the game that sits right between AW and IW and features the same sort of jet pack-based game play as those games, is excellent. It is in fact one of the best COD games ever made. The replayability of multiplayer is amazing, and I still play it now. It’s great.

So the issue with Infinite Warfare isn’t so much the “setting”, nor is it the “non-traditional” nature of its multiplayer game play. It’s that the game just isn’t any good. It’s not about robots or space. It’s about quality.

Some are now wondering if Activision will go back to World War II or something, taking a hint from the success of Battlefield 1. I doubt it, and sort of hope not. But Ghosts would be an ideal starting point for a new series, Activision. Just saying. And don’t drop the jet packs: BOIII proves that can work, and with amazing results.

Or just figure out a new Modern Warfare series. You know the fans want it.


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