It’s hard to get much bigger than Call of Duty. The most recent installment, Call of Duty: Black Ops II made $1 billion in 15 days and topped U.S. sales charts for 2012, continuing to appear at #2 even six months after its release.
While each installment continues to sell more than the lifetime sales of some entire franchises, Call of Duty will soon face something it hasn’t had to worry about in years: a console transition. As Xbox One and PlayStation 4 quickly approach, IGN spoke with Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg about whether or not he’s concerned about the megafranchise making the transition.
“All I can tell you is that the franchise has never been stronger,” Hirshberg told IGN. “At this moment in time, we have more people playing every month, more people logging on to play every day, a better digital business with people playing longer into the cycle of each product and purchasing more DLC and purchasing micro-DLC and purchasing season passes. Those are all the hard measures. How is the content we’re making selling? Are people enjoying it? That seems to be going well. Then you look at the softer measures, just in terms of social media engagement and video views. Anticipation is high for Ghosts. When you’re building off such a strong foundation of engaged players, that’s usually a pretty good sign.”
It all comes down to us making a great game every time out, and I’m confident that we are going to deliver something special with Ghosts.
“Now, at the end of the day, it all comes down to us making another great game,” Hirshberg continued. “That’s why we set the stage for greatness with Ghosts by wiping the slate clean creatively, not doing another Modern Warfare game with Infinity Ward, allowing them to create an entirely new narrative and cast of characters. We’ve changed to a world where America is not the dominant force, but an underdog. That opened up new visual opportunities. It opened up new gameplay opportunities. We’re shaking things up. Multiplayer is going to have new ideas. Dynamic maps are something we’re doing. Character customization is something we’re doing. The story mode is going to be…I don’t know if you’ve seen what we [showed at E3], but it’s gorgeous. It’s emotional. It’s got a different kind of tonality and feeling to it. It all comes down to us making a great game every time out, and I’m confident that we are going to deliver something special with Ghosts.”
Hirshberg also addressed the growing popularity of Call of Duty and how it’s even attracted Hollywood talent to work on the franchise. In addition to The Dark Knight writer David Goyer assisting on Black Ops II, Traffic writer Stephen Gaghan penned the script for Call of Duty: Ghosts.
“Steven Gaghan is writing the script with us. I’m excited about it,” Hirshberg said. “We’re reaching a point of maturity as an industry where a lot of the top Hollywood talent are gamers. They grew up playing games, the same way we did. They have a natural interest in it just as consumers. The other thing is that people look at where the entertainment audience is migrating and where people are spending the majority of their time and money. It’s an exciting industry to be involved in from that standpoint as well.”
“I still feel like we have a long way to go as an industry as far as developing the storytelling medium,” he continued. “It’s a gameplay medium first and foremost, and it should be. These are games. They’re interactive experiences. The creative process always starts with that – what would be a fun thing to do? But the level of immersion and the level of connection you can have with the characters, the level of interest we can generate in the storylines, I think can always be improved. I think Steve Gaghan, so far he’s knocking it out of the park for us.”
Call of Duty: Ghosts will hit stores on November 5th. For more, read our impressions from E3.