Annual releases are something that’s just become an accepted part of games now. Spearheaded by Call of Duty, it’s easy to imagine that every publisher wants at least one annual title in their catalogue. Fans may lament each year’s latest iteration, waiting with hands-over-eyes to see how the next installment is inferior to the original that started it all, but it keeps happening. It’s something that has to stop, says Mark Rubin, executive producer at Infinity Ward. Whilst Call of Duty has revelled in the success of yearly installments, Rubin recognises that the schedule doesn’t always produce positive results. “Publishers need to figure out that the Call of Duty formula doesn’t work for everyone,” he explains.
Talking to Metro’s GameCentral about Call of Duty: Ghosts and the impact of Grand Theft Auto V on the industry, Rubin shrugged off the idea that GTA was definitive proof that taking many years to develop a honed game was the only production model acceptable by developers: “Our system works for us, we have a rhythm for making a game,” he said. “But that being said there are other methods for other people, besides the ones we’re talking about [Rockstar, Blizzard and Nintendo], and that works for them. In other words some companies put out the game and then they make their effort in supporting that game for a long period of time, selling DLC or whatever. There are different formulas to get to that magic point.”
“There are companies out there who have been copying that formula – won’t name ‘em because you already know exactly who they are – but it doesn’t necessarily work for them. And Rockstar, and also games like Skyrim, they have a different formula that does work for them. Neither formula is better than another but studios, actually publishers really, need to figure out that the Call Of Duty formula doesn’t work for everyone.”
As the topic of conversation draws to a close, Metro note that they assumed that the scheduling for game development and release is dictated by “some ivory tower exec” rather than the development team. In an exceptionally sad sounding reply, Rubin simply replies “It generally is, to be honest.” Not exactly a statement to be surprised and outraged over, but it’s not hard to understand why Infinity Ward produce games so similar to each other when the leash is held so tight by Activision.