Call of Duty is not ill, says Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg. That isn’t a comedy thermometer drooping limply from the corner of its mouth, and these aren’t bloodied scrubs he's wearing. While the thing that sticks in our minds about Ghosts’ release is that it wasn’t good - going by our Call of Duty: Ghosts review - for Hirshberg it’s all about that dratted console transition year.
“We've been pretty transparent all year that we think, because of the challenges of the console transition year, that that was likely in the short-term,” Hirshberg said of Ghosts' disappointing launch figures, apparently mistaking Game Informer for his shareholders. “I think it would be a mistake to conflate the challenges of the console transition year with any indications about the health of the franchise.”
And now the strain of a two-year development cycle across four or more platforms seems to be doing its worst, does Hirshberg see any issues with CoD’s release pattern? “Obviously not”.
“Obviously I don't agree with the critics there,” he said. “I know that Call of Duty’s a polarising franchise with some of the critics, and it’s clear to me that not all the critics like our strategy of making a game every year, but thankfully our fans do.
“It’s also clear to me that the critical response doesn't always mirror the fans’ appreciation of a game,” Hirshberg went on. “We actually do read the critics’ comments and take them into consideration during our creative process, but we just can't measure ourselves by that yardstick alone.”
I’m not so sure about that fan appreciation myself. Call of Duty: Ghosts’ multiplayer launch figures seemed to be down about 30% from those of Black Ops II the year before - and that’s on PC, where the launch of new consoles is only discernable via the faint cha-ching of distant tills. What do you reckon?