That might sound like a bad thing, but it isn’t—at least not where Activision chief executive Eric Hirshberg is concerned. It isn’t just that gamers are delving into fewer games; they’re also delving more deeply into the games that they love. Recently a number of industry analysts have predicted that Call of Duty’s sales may start to lag this year (owing in part to their massive competition in the form of other FPS franchises, as well as the notion that the “golden age of gaming” is dwindling), but Hirshberg is not worried about these predictions of woe; after all, there’s always someone out there predicting you’re going to fail, even if you’ve been around for a long time.
While speaking with the BBC at Gamescon, Hirshberg stated that sales patterns today are indeed changing, but that the changes reflect shifting preferences among consumers and not disinterest in video games. “People are voluntarily spending more and more time with fewer franchises, going deeper into the worlds that they love,” said Hirshberg. “That doesn’t show a decreased appetite for interactive entertainment, it shows an increased appetite – just through the lens of fewer brands.”
One reason gamers are choosing to specialize is probably that video games have become more expensive instead of less expensive over the past few years. While other forms of entertainment have become more affordable, video games have become less so. This has created powerful loyalty to certain games since gamers are starting to stick with what they know they love.
At the same time, gamers also are looking for creativity. Call of Duty is in its ninth installment, which has caused some people to call the series stale. Hirshberg asserts however that it’s not just the reliable COD formula which is going to bring gamers back this year, but also the fact that the series is going in a new direction. “The game is very innovative. It has several firsts for the COD franchise including the fact that it takes place in a future setting, which unlocks a whole host of creative possibilities for our developers from new weapons to new settings to new art directional ideas.”
Hirshberg also states that he has high hopes for Halo 4, and that he’s a big fan of the far-future FPS series. Many people believe Halo and COD to be direct competitors, but considering how vastly different the two series are, this is probably not the case to the degree that many believe. Hopefully this is going to be a great year for both series.