Only Microsoft/Xbox acquisition of Activision can save the Call of Duty franchise from dying, here is why.
There’s an old adage in the gaming world: “Change is the only constant.” Yet, for longtime fans of the Call of Duty (CoD) franchise, this inevitability has become a bitter pill to swallow. The franchise has seen its player base dwindle at an alarming rate, with even its most steadfast supporters defecting in droves. Content creators and streamers who have championed the franchise for over a decade have jumped ship, citing a sense of abandonment by the current game team.
In recent times, the Call of Duty franchise has found itself on shaky grounds. A dwindling player base, a distancing relationship with prominent streamers and content creators, and a significant shift in its audience targeting and gameplay mechanics have put the franchise in a precarious position.
Firstly, let’s talk about SM2 and X Labs. These were fan-driven projects aimed at preserving the legacy of the Call of Duty games and improving the gameplay experience of older titles. SM2, a major Modern Warfare II modding project, had been in the works for over two years, bringing innovative features like new weapons, in-game perks, a redesigned UI, new streak and progression systems, and even a move to a more modern game engine.
X Labs, on the other hand, created custom clients and servers for various classic Call of Duty games, including Modern Warfare 2, Ghosts, and Advanced Warfare, providing a safe haven from the rampant hacking and cheating that have plagued the official servers of these older titles.
However, the cease-and-desist letters sent by Activision to these fan-driven projects effectively cut off a lifeline for the older games, forcing these projects to permanently shut down their operations.
The Call of Duty franchise has also found itself at odds with popular streamers and content creators, who have been integral to its success over the years. Activision recently removed the exclusive skin packs of Nickmercs and TimTheTatman from its stores, following a disagreement over Nickmercs’ controversial political stance. Even after TimTheTatman requested the removal of his bundle in solidarity with Nickmercs, the damage to Activision’s relationship with these influential personalities was already done.
Activision’s attempts to appeal to a more casual audience, specifically the LGBTQ+ community, by introducing features like many variations of the pride flag at launch and skill-based stat boosts, have also been met with mixed responses. These stat boosts, which give less skilled players advantages like extra health and larger enemy hit boxes, have been seen as a slap in the face to long-time players who have spent years honing their skills only to be nerfed, risking their hits not registering in the game.
On top of that, playing older Call of Duty (CoD) titles, even ones as recent as Black Ops Cold War, now comes with the risk of exposing one’s IP address or receiving malicious software that could potentially harm one’s computer.
Given this backdrop, the potential acquisition of Activision by Microsoft/Xbox could indeed serve as a much-needed lifeline for the beleaguered Call of Duty franchise. With all former franchise titles potentially becoming available on the Game Pass for a mere AUD$15 a month, this will significantly lower the entry barrier for a lot of players and could breathe new life into the older titles.
Furthermore, the game running through Microsoft’s secure servers could eliminate the security risks associated with malicious hacks and exploits that have plagued the older titles. This shift could provide a safer and more enjoyable gaming experience, restoring the trust of the player base.
Only Xbox can save Activision.
With the additional funds and resources at Activision’s disposal post-acquisition, they could focus on fixing the various issues currently plaguing their games. In essence, this acquisition could not only save but potentially reinvigorate the Call of Duty franchise, bringing it back to its former glory.
In the end, the future of the Call of Duty franchise could very well depend on this shift in stewardship. Only time will tell if Microsoft/Xbox can successfully steer the franchise back towards prosperity. Their priority should be to restore the trust of the player base, and that means addressing the various gameplay, security, and community issues that have been neglected.
Microsoft/Xbox could take advantage of its substantial resources to support and encourage fan-driven projects like SM2 and X Labs, which have been instrumental in maintaining the vibrancy of the older Call of Duty games. By providing these projects with a legal and supportive framework, Microsoft could foster an environment that respects the creativity and dedication of the fan community, while preserving the integrity of the original games.
On the content creator front, Microsoft/Xbox should prioritize mending ties with influencers and streamers who have had a significant impact on the franchise’s success. This could involve fostering an open dialogue, acknowledging past mistakes, and working on mutually beneficial agreements that respect the influencers’ autonomy while upholding the values of the Call of Duty (CoD) community.
All CoD games for just $15!
When it comes to the gameplay, Microsoft could consider revisiting the idea of skill-based stat boosts, taking into account the feedback from long-time players. While it’s essential to make the game accessible to new and casual players, this should not come at the expense of alienating the existing player base. It’s a delicate balance, but with careful thought and a keen understanding of the community’s needs, Microsoft could find a solution that satisfies all parties.
Finally, security should be a top priority. Microsoft’s expertise in cloud-based services and cybersecurity can play a significant role in ensuring that players feel safe and secure when playing the game, especially the older titles.
The potential acquisition of Activision by Microsoft/Xbox could be a watershed moment for the Call of Duty franchise. It presents an opportunity to reinvigorate a beloved franchise that has been struggling with various issues. By focusing on restoring trust, supporting the fan community, mending ties with influencers, balancing gameplay mechanics, and ensuring security, Microsoft has the chance to bring the franchise back to its former glory. However, it won’t be an easy task, and it will require dedication, resources, and a genuine commitment to the Call of Duty (CoD) community.