Annualized games are almost always low-effort cash grabs that are designed to separate a sucker and his money. For the most part, annualized franchises quickly become obsolete, and while they may have been able to ride an initial wave of success to a fairly lucrative position, their throne almost always sits on a foundation of sand. Eventually, annualized games almost always fail, and yet somehow, year after year, Call of Duty bucks that trend. Call of Duty’s long-running annual release cycle has made the games start to feel very tired as all three designated CoD development studios are simultaneously working to the bone. The series has reached a point where less is more, and while the time has been right to switch to a semi-annual release schedule for years, Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision may finally make that switch financially viable. .
The current development cycle that the Call of Duty franchise has settled into is spread across three main studios, each producing a new game every three years. This three-year, three-study cycle has resulted in a series of games that feel repressed and unimaginative. In recent years, the only signs of originality and enthusiasm come ironically from the past: in 2017, when Sledgehammer made the retro style unapologetically. call of duty ww2and in 2019 with the Modern war restart. As it stands, the series runs through Infinity Ward, Treyarch, and Sledgehammer. To improve the Call of Duty franchise, Microsoft will have to radically rethink both the development schedules and the method of distribution for future CoD games. By disbanding Sledgehammer and allowing the development team to be absorbed equally by Infinity Ward and Treyarch, the series will be free to move to a semi-annual release cycle, allowing each game to have the same amount of time in the oven and a significantly higher post-launch. support from larger, more focused teams. But the only way Call of Duty’s break with annualization could conveniently be financially viable is also the biggest game on Xbox today, Game Pass.
Great developers make great games, but while raw talent almost never equates to quality of life, quality of life often equates to talent. At the center of every game are the developers, and healthy and happy developers are more likely to produce high-quality games. By disbanding Sledgehammer and moving to a semi-annual release schedule, the remaining two development studios would handle less work with a significantly larger workforce. Intuitively, larger development teams producing half of the games would be bad for business, but by taking into account the mental and physical health of the teams developing those games, the Game Pass model could empower the focus on quality over quality. amount. The dissolution of the Sledgehammer games would not only benefit the development teams by relieving the pressure with additional work, it would also allow the developers additional liberties to experiment with new ideas, making each subsequent game more innovative. In addition to each entry being higher quality and more innovative, teams would be given an additional year to support the most recent release. So for a whole year, teams could focus on balancing changes and post-launch content.
For example, Infinity Ward is currently finalizing development on modern warfare 2. In the proposed system they would be nearing the end of the third year of the four-year cycle. When modern warfare 2 Infinity Ward releases will begin the fourth year of the four-year cycle. If the four-year cycle were to be adopted, the fourth year would be spent patching and balancing the game to optimize the multiplayer experience while also developing post-launch content to be released during the two years the game spends as the most recent title. from CoD . So fall 2022 to fall 2023 would be the fourth year for Infinity Ward and in fall 2023 they could move most of their team to start working on whatever the next title will leave a team behind. minimum to maintain modern warfare 2 and the cycle would repeat itself.
The role the publisher would play in restructuring and reinvigorating the Call of Duty franchise is key. Assuming Microsoft’s ongoing acquisition is approved, all future Call of Duty games will presumably launch on Gamepass on day one. Microsoft is uniquely equipped to refine and improve the Call of Duty formula by monetizing each individual game more efficiently. Despite what the more dedicated gaming audience might think, there are a large number of gamers who purchase a console for the sole purpose of playing Call of Duty each year. Launching Call of Duty on Gamepass inherently makes the game easier to access on the Xbox platform and would naturally lead to more players playing on Xbox. Since a large part of the player base will play on Xbox, those players who buy a console just to play Call of Duty will gravitate towards Xbox and Gamepass. When it launched in November 2021, Call of Duty Vanguard’s the standard edition was $60, the intergenerational pack was $70, and the ultimate edition was $100. If all post-launch content was included with Gamepass and the Call of Duty pledge could consistently keep $15 per month for two years, then each game could generate revenue of $360 instead of the $200 the final versions of each of the two games in the same time frame would have in the existing annualized model.
Gamepass could not only empower each Call of Duty game to potentially more than double annual revenue, but also function as a gateway drug-like experience to expose the public to every other game available on the service. Players who initially subscribed to Gamepass as a means of playing Call of Duty could take the time to verify infinity halo, Doom Eternal or Wolfenstein. Eventually those same gamers could branch out into other genres and experience greats like Ori and the blind forest, Quantum Pauseeither The Outer Wilds. A move to a biennial release cycle would drive engagement in Call of Duty by allowing Microsoft to not monetize as aggressively as Call of Duty has historically done, which in turn would drive overall engagement in the Xbox ecosystem while also would leave room for other own applications. Microsoft titles to fill the flagship vacation spot every two years.
Changing the Call of Duty release schedule would obviously benefit the developers and, if done correctly, could potentially benefit the publisher, but it would also benefit the consumer creating the highly elusive “win-win-win” scenario. As mentioned above, allowing development teams more time to create the games we all love to spend so much time playing will make games better and more innovative, which is pretty much the definition of good for the consumer. It’s no secret that most of the audience didn’t, they particularly enjoyedVanguard either Black Ops: Cold War, but going back in time 10-15 years, we got Call of Duty banger games every year. At this point, the series is still capable of delivering great games like the one from 2019. Modern war but after nearly 20 years of being on top of the mountain, the franchise’s weariness has taken its toll. So a renewed focus on quality combined with a bit of deliberate absence would certainly lead our hearts to grow fonder of what is to come.
If the biennial four-year cycle were adopted, not only would the quality of each game increase, but the Call of Duty community would finally have the opportunity to flourish in a way that has never been possible before. An annual release cycle means that between adoption of the newest title, balance patches, and marketing for the next game, the community is constantly in a state of whiplash, giving each title only about five months in the center of attention after finding her legs in the sea. Call of Duty games every two years and an intentional focus on post-launch content would allow more time for the community to build a true meta around something other than Warzone, which will also drive long-term commitment to the game. Serie. An additional year for each game would allow for better and more complete experiences at launch, followed by two years of focused and intentional support and post-launch content, a huge win for a community that, frankly speaking, has been through some of the worst times . and lows in the industry during the last decade.
And finally, a change in Call of Duty’s release cycle could mean more games and better games from other Microsoft-owned studios. Even if Call of Duty isn’t your thing, the series featured on Gamepass would boost subscriptions, giving everything under Microsoft’s own umbrella more financial resources to experiment with. If you play like psychonauts 2 either Ori and the Will of the Wisps they have less pressure to be perceived as a success because of the subsidy that’s made possible by a seemingly endless amount of Call of Duty content, so non-Call of Duty studios would probably have more freedom to experiment because Microsoft would know they have Tax money call to trust. So even if you never play Call of Duty, a change to the release cycle could make an absolute difference to the games you play on Gamepass.
A no-loss situation is extremely rare, and there are certainly plenty of ways Microsoft could go wrong moving Call of Duty games to a biennial release. But if done right, it could be a win-win for everyone involved and even some developers and players who aren’t involved with Call of Duty at all. Microsoft and its Gamepass service are critical to the success of this particular model and really the only way the whole thing is financially feasible. So while Microsoft’s approach with the other development studios they’ve acquired has been largely hands-off, hopefully that’s not the case with Activision like Obligations It’s not the only thing within that company that needs a big makeover.