So, on November 14-15th, Dazran, MrHuntinNoobs, A_Trey_U, myself and many others had a twitter discussion regarding the temporary aim assist deflect in Ghosts, as well as a small discussion about other FPS games and DLC, etc. One way lead to another, and i basically said:
"I could write you a 5 page essay, single space, on why i won't buy it. Not joking."
Indeed, i did just that. I wrote a full 6 page (not 5), single spaced, report on why i won't buy Call of Duty: Ghosts, and to some extent it involved into why i lost trust in Call of Duty as a whole. An introduction that introduces my history in having both owned and playing Call of Duty, as well as my own personal venture in how i reached my conclusion to why i believe *these* to be problems. I did not mention fixes for these issues, as it is up to management to decide what to do. Of course, it is pretty easy to see what kind of fix i do imply should be implemented.
This is not pertaining to the whole system that is Call of Duty, but only a portion of it, which is why i believe it to be justifiable to exist in the Wii U sub-forum as it pertains, specifically, to the Wii U version. Mention of the system as a whole is unavoidable, so it is mentioned and used in the paper.
I wrote a total 4,390 words, and it was originally written in MLA format, although do forgive how sucky my citing and lack of a cover page is. It's not for marks, so i could care less if there isn't a cover page. So, with that stated, i would like to also mention the use of footnotes. There are a total of 7 footnotes throughout the paper. In order to allow better readability the footnotes, or i suppose endnotes (now) will all be located after the works cited. They are also hyperlinked, as per thanks to the Call of Duty forum, so it should allow easy of ability to move between them and the paper. Anything i did not include originally in the paper, such as citations will be marked with a *, starting at ** to make it more noticeable. They will be located below the endnotes.
I did not spend an appropriate time writing this. While having spent 9 hours writing this, for a report of this stature it is not entirely feasible, and as a result is still incomplete to a fair extent. The extent at which it's not complete i, personally, don't mind; however, since i'm posting this, i would like to request that you, the reader, do not take everything as 'finalized' point, but rather an opinion. It is not to say that there do not exist any complete thoughts in this paper, but rather that there is much more i could write on the matter. I only spent 9 hours writing. If i so wished i could write an additional 5 pages, but that would be overly excessive and unneeded. I know that there is indeed a chance of this paper having an inaccurate point, so if you do spot something of the sorts, then be sure to note it.
With that stated, i would like to close this pre-intro portion by explaining why i'm post this. Since i completed the paper, i've wondered if i should post it here or not. I do believe that it's ok to post here, but i don't so much trust how people would react to it. Some may react in favor of it; others may respond to it critically, or the rest may flame it for what it is. Those who flame it are the ones i've worried about, when it came posting. Since A_Trey_U hasn't responded to my tweets, and since i don't post much on the Ghosts forum (as i don't believe i have a proper right to critically discussion aspects of this game as i don't own it), i thought it would be for the best to post it here on the forums. For the previously stated reason, i would like to request that if this gets out of hand that the mod, whomever they be, delete all replies and then lock the thread so that it can still be seen by the developers as this was originally meant as a critical, opinionated, report.
All has been stated, and i hope you enjoy this read. This took me about 9 hours to write and edit, and comes to a total 4,390 words (not including the top part, title, and citation). Enjoy.
Wii U and Distrust of Call of Duty
Since the release of the Nintendo Wii U, and the hype surrounding the video game console, I have come to many different realizations about both business, selling a product, and, most importantly, the treatment of consumers after buying a product. Development of Call of Duty titles on Nintendo platforms seem to fall on the development studio Treyarch, alot of the time, and while I have no dislike with how Treyarch handles the series, there are many things that I do view as being problematic. The development cycle, treatment of consumers, and the handling of development being some prime examples. The reasoning behind this response is the result of clashing of opinions, discussions, and beliefs introduced through realizations as a result of these issues. I would like to start off with my own personal history of Call of Duty.
A few years ago, I bought my first Call of Duty title; Call of Duty Modern Warfare Reflex on boxing day, from a store called Futureshop. Despite this being the first title I have owned from the Call of Duty brand, I was first introduced to the series by playing Call of Duty and Call of Duty 2 with a friend a few years prior. At the time, I did not recall that these games were related, so it was not a factor in the purchasing of this game. The reasoning behind buying the title, however, was a result of my attraction to the use of the Wii Remote in a first-person shooter called The Conduit. I greatly enjoyed the multiplayer, and poured many hours during my summer that year into the title's online multiplayer. Because this game introduced me to the Wii Remote's use in first-person shooters, I liked it alot and wished to continue this enjoyment. For that reason, I did research and came across Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Reflex and decided to purchase it to fuel my enjoyment. This become my proper introduction to the Call of Duty franchise.
Since this time, I continued to use the Wii Remote in every iteration of the Call of Duty games, on the Nintendo Wii (Wii) console, and continued to buy them, then after, on their launch up until this iteration. When Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 was announced, I had decided to cease buying Call of Duty games after this title due to the feeling of repetition, and continuously support towards the developers (with my money) year after year became a hefty investment that began to nolonger feel worthwhile. The reasoning behind this lied in the titles post Call of Duty:Modern Warfare Reflex.
Call of Duty: Black Ops, while although I found to be even more enjoyable than Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Reflex, suffered from a few issues that made playing the game difficult. While I did not mind them completely, and many portions of the game were very enjoyable, over the course of many months of playing the game it became apparent that they needed to be addressed. The problem was that those issues were not addressed. The reasoning behind this was not clear and, at the time, the developer who oversaw the Wii community on the official Call of Duty forums, had disappeared without a trace. Something regarding this issue did not seem right to me, so I began looking into the matter. One of the key things I discovered was Infinity Ward refusing to develop on the Wii. As a new fan of the Call of Duty franchise, and Wii-only owner, I found this disappointing news. This prompted me to research the reasoning of Call of Duty Modern: Warfare Reflex's presence on the platform. Surprising, I learned that, the developer studio, Treyarch had ported the game over to the Wii. This lead to a feeling of care that the developers at Treyarch took in bringing a video game that the originator neglected to bring to a platform. I felt both satisfied, and troubled that this was occurring; however, I decided to ignore it. At this time, I started reading into the reasons behind Infinity Ward's dislike of the Wii, and other developers' thoughts and feelings towards the platform.
Several months later the missing developer from the Call of Duty forums reappeared, along with the announcement of Call of Duty: MW3 for the Wii. Around this same time, i was looking into buying another platform in order to play the video games that were not on the Wii, that I wanted to play. I ultimately decided to buy a PlayStation 3 (PS3) due to its use as a blu-ray player. Later, when I went to buy it, my parents urged me to settle on a bundle, so i picked the Call of Duty: Black Ops with PlayStation 3 bundle. In addition to this, I also bought Call of Duty: World At War, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, God of War 1,2 and 3; and L.A. Noire. Having played and mostly enjoyed the game on the Wii, I thought that playing it on the PS3 should yield a 'superior' experience as many people have told me previously. After playing the game on the platform, I concluded that the Wii version was better. Despite additional features, such as Theatermode, Emblems, the flamethrower gun attachment, and many additional killstreaks; the game's multiplayer did not feel as good as on the Wii. I ultimately decided that I would be better off enjoying the game with a control scheme that I also greatly enjoyed, which is why I decided to not continue playing Call of Duty: Black Ops, for multiplayer, on my PS3. I did, however, continue to play the zombies game-mode from time-to-time. Both in-game issues, and community wise, were the main reasons behind my departure from this version. Luckily, Call of Duty: MW3 was to be released soon, so I settled on buying that for both my Wii and PS3.
The first day of playing Call of Duty: MW3, I went straight to my PS3, and started playing it. I originally thought the Wii version, once again, would be the version i found more enjoyable; however, to my surprise, I enjoyed this version greatly. Believing that the Wii version would prove to also be grand, I turned on my Wii and proceeded to play it. Upon my first match, I noticed the differences between the two versions, and encountered issues that were not on the PS3 version. I decided to go back and play on the PS3 version for the meantime, and after the following patches for the Wii version, I tried the game again, but still did not enjoy it. This lead me to side with the notion that the Wii version was not as fun as the PS3 version, and as so I decided to play on that version exclusively for MW3. From time to time, I would play the Wii version, but I was unable to properly enjoy it as much as the PS3 version; However, due to my dissatisfaction, i decided to continue playing Call of Duty: Black Ops on the Wii. I still found the game greatly enjoyable, and continued to do so under the assumption that the game will never receive another patch. Meanwhile, I continued to keep track of MW3 on the Wii, and played it on my PS3. Later, when support for the Wii version ended, but continued on the PS3, I was skeptical and unsure of why. I couldn't come up with a proper answer to this question until the following iteration, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 was to be released on Nintendo's, at the time, forth-coming next-generation video game console: The Nintendo Wii U (Wii U).
With all this out of the way, I can now properly introduce the reason behind this report. My initial reason for buying Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 was to play the zombies game-mode, which I greatly enjoyed playing in parties on both the PS3 and Wii versions of Call of Duty: Black Ops. Due to the amount of time spent playing the multiplayer game-modes of the Call of Duty titles, I decided that I would spend my time enjoying the other game-modes more, with this title potentially being my final purchase due to all previous purchases1. Upon the release of the game, for the Wii U, I found the controls slightly abnormal. I wanted to be optimistic that this problem would eventually be fixed. Due to my research on the Wii in previous years, and contrasting to the Wii U, I believed that the Wii U was on a more refined level in terms of system architecture and capabilities than the Wii, and would not as easily limit a developer and require so much custom work, which appeared to be something that Nintendo held close for both the Wii, and its predecessor, the Nintendo Gamecube. I held ground and believed that this would be properly fixed, and that a repeat in history was not going to occur2. At this same time, I felt more captivated by the multiplayer than I did the zombies game-mode. I was surprised by how much fun I was having despite the controller issues. The one thing that kept me satisfied was being able to use the Wii Remote well, and to use it without too many problems when sniping. In retrospect, this belief was for naught.
What I feared the most did end up happening, but not before the final patch released for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 that caused a problem with the one thing that kept me satisfied with the mutiplayer aspect of the game: 'Wii Remote sniping', is the term I dub it as. The issue made me feel very dissatisfied as I was unable to properly use the Wii Remote and snipe with it in the multiplayer, at that point. To pour salt on the wound, so to speak, the game's support ended. Not only did I feel dissatisfied, but the one thing I wished that wouldn't happen happened. At this point, I began to try and reanalysis the situation to try and come up with a proper answer as no answers were still given. I was not satisfied, and in doing so I continued to try and reach possible conclusions. The first was the time it took to develop each title.
The length in development for Call of Duty titles appears to be about 1.4 years, with at least some appropriate percentage (my personal estimate is 40%) of the development studio on the project at the very beginning of each title. Due to my introduction to learning programming, and taking into account the different aspects of creating a video game, I determined that, in order for a Call of Duty title to be released each year, there must be work on the games simultaneously. In order for an annual title to be released, there would need to be two teams. These two teams were the two development studios Infinity Ward and Treyarch. By contrasting the two studios, I determined that only one studio had a supporting Nintendo platform team, which was Treyarch. The reason for this was due to Infinity Ward's declaration to not develop for the Wii in previous years**. Taking this into account, as well as the sizes of each development studio, and previous times where Treyarch had port over the Infinity Ward based titles, as well as packaging and disc printing times, it became clear to me that development on these games did not last an entire 2 years. The reasons behind the issues when the games launched, when comparing patch notes, showed that there were more issues at the launches of each game. This prompted the thought to introduce more efficiency in programming the games and less errors to make the games less buggy. Along this line of thinking, the lack of support on the games would be less problematic. However, this result was not satisfactory, but it brought up an important point on the development and business perspective of video games, to me.
Although Call of Duty is a well-known video game franchise, the bugs, glitches and issues included in it are problematic. Whenever i thought to compare them to games by other developers, I wondered why there was such a difference in the 'glitchiness' of the games. This thought hit me the worst when I finally unpackaged and got around to playing my copy of Super Mario Galaxy 2. The difference between the games were astounding. While Nintendo will always have the upper-hand in development of games on their platforms, the difference still struck me as abnormal. I had previously thought that if the games came out being too buggy that they should take longer in development, but the problem isn't just that, but the developer environment. The horror stories of being a developer often come up from time-to-time in news vendors. The most memorable story was that of L.A. Noire***, which made me question if i should even enjoy the video game as it, literally, 'sacrificed' so many people in order to make it, many of whom were not credited. This made me wonder about Activision's developer environment, and whether or not it was better. My gut says it couldn't be worse than the state with the development of L.A. Noire, but it is likely still hectic during the later half of the year when the Call of Duty title is to be launched. Of course, this was under a general assumption, so I thought about how this would work with the Nintendo platform development team. That is when I began to partially sympathize with the Nintendo platform development team. Since Infinity Ward did not have their own dedicated team, and while Treyarch did, pooling resources away from PS3, Xbox 360 (360) and PC would be difficult, so they relied on Treyarch then to bring the Nintendo platform versions. Of course, I couldn't sympathize completely since in business 'you do work and are compensated for it accordingly', thus I concluded that the Nintendo platform team also gets compensation for their additional work, which of course provides an incentive to be doing the work3. Although these thoughts trailed and continued, my ultimate conclusion, and one that dissatisfied me, was that the games took short development times to bring in profits at the cost of fixing issues. From a business perspective it's genius: Make use of a 'winning' formula, and take advantage of key times of the year to sell a game in order to reap in more profits. However, from a consumer perspective, I could see that the 'work' suffered in the process, and even at the very end it's still not completely fixed. The reason why is because they can't fix it due to the development cycle. If a problem is not fixed by some cut-off date of the year after the title is released, then it will not be fixed because the development team must work on the var_title+=2 iteration. This approach makes more money, but due to the short development time it takes its toll on the product. This is the first major point that I greatly started to dislike about the development practice within the Call of Duty franchise. While all this is subjective, and based on extreme assumptions, I wanted to understand more about the 'why' aspect of this, and whether or not it could be properly rectified and fixed for improvement.
When Battlefield 4 was revealed, the question of whether or not a Wii U version was in development was greatly discussed. Unfortunately, there was no Wii U version in development and the official statement was: “Sometimes, at least for us, it's focus on what you do well and what you know well, and ensure that you deliver something good than trying a bit too much, stretching yourself too thin and risking it...” (Eddie, Makuch). While I do agree that a quality work may suffer in the long run, this line of thinking became redundant and inexcusable when additional platforms PlayStation 4 (PS4) and Xbox One (Xbone) were added to the lineup. Although my understanding of software development is vague and unrefined, I found this to be nothing more than a petty excuse. While development on the PS4 and Xbone versions would be similar to PC, compared to the Wii U, there is still a displacement and allocation of programmers needed to each platform. If you have a set number of people doing work on a specific platform, there is only so many people you can take away before efficiency of development on that platform becomes damaged. With the addition of two platforms, that would still require several people to move from development of one platform to the development of the other two. If this statement was given at the time before a PS4 or Xbone version of the game was noted, or green-lit, I would very likely side by my stance on the matter. The only issue is that there is many things that happen behind the scene, and at the time of writing this, it is perfectly fair to say that development for those platforms, of a version of Battlefield 4, began. Despite this contradiction, I would like to contrast this to Call of Duty: Ghosts.
While, unlike EA Digital Illusions CE (DiCE), Infinity Ward and also in comparison to its sibling developer studio Treyarch, has a smaller development team. The number of people that work as programmers is much smaller, and thus the burden of taking on additional platforms would be difficult. This is where I agree to their outsourcing for the Wii U version of Call of Duty Ghosts specifically. Infinity Ward does not have the proper allocation of developers to allow the development of too many platforms. In total, they worked on 5 platforms, while Treyarch handled an additional platform, which was the Wii U. From the history Infinity Ward has for developing on Nintendo platforms, which has not been significant in recent years, the question of whether or not they will allocate the proper number of programmers to form a new sub-development team for the Wii U remains to be seen. Morally, I believe that Infinity Ward should handle their own product, and it should not be left up to Treyarch to aid them to this degree. With that in mind, I wondered how far the outsourcing of development will go. With this iteration of Call of Duty being a peculiar case, being the final console transitional year, development of additional platforms will be a given as the introduced platforms will be supported in addition to the pre-existing platforms. My worry is how this will work in the future given that life is still strong on previous generation platforms, like the PS3, 360, and even the Wii to some extent. In terms of business practice, because there exists more platforms, the audience for potential buyers becomes larger with the more versions developed. With that stated, it is not abnormal to assume that Treyarch's next Call of Duty title will be a title that supports both 'next-generation' and 'last-generation' platforms. Unless management would like to force gamers to upgrade their platforms, the next Call of Duty title will most definitely be on 6 platforms, this is of course assuming Wii U development is not dropped. The troubles exist not for Treyarch, but for the Infinity Ward side of the argument for their next Call of Duty title.
Skipping over Treyarch's next call to duty, Infinity Ward's next go is the question- as by then it will be a matter of whether or not to put the game on more platforms for a greater profit or to stick to the newer generation of platforms released this past, and current, year. In eithercase it would be difficult to question whether or not Wii U development would be outsourced to Treyarch again. If it is, then the Nintendo platform development team at Treyarch will be unable to work for the full amount of time supporting the title as they must then work on their own next, upcoming, title and the cycle of post-release game support will finish likely incomplete. If it doesn't happen, then a result not seen yet will occur, and by then my guess would be as good as anyone's as to how it would play out. Post release support for each title only lasts a few months on the Nintendo version while it spans much longer on other platforms' versions. This difference in time makes a clear difference as to what can be fixed and what cannot be fixed, and is seemingly my main reason for distrust of the brand on the Nintendo platforms.
The balancing of the Call of Duty franchise's ecosystem is difficult, but can be accomplished. It is an entirely different matter to discuss consumer interactions with the series, the pricing of the series, and among other matters, but displeasure with the series for Nintendo platform owners is quite clear due to allocation issues. Support finishes after several months and, due to the current ecosystem of the franchise support for fixes, or in-game issues, such as 'boosting' are left unresolved. Many4 players may not mind it, but to the degree it is seen on the Nintendo platform versions is disappointing in comparison to the other versions. To sacrifice one thing for another should not be a choice in 'fairness' in keeping up with the other versions. Sales of this particular version may be impacted due to lesser support in comparison to another. Among multi-console owners, the choice of buying a version of a game may be left up due to the significance in friends on that particular platform, or due to feature-set. While some features may be tempting, temptation also lies in 'fairness'5 of treatment. The revelation of 'fairness' will determine what version of a game will be picked up by the consumer. If all are similar, and do not have any exclusions, for those who own multiple platforms it will be determined by what features, and friends, these people have on which platforms.
As a consumer, I cannot say I haven't gotten my payment's worth from buying the Call of Duty titles. I have spent much time playing them, and have both had equally bad and good times playing. The issue is of paying in the beginning for issues with the game(s), and whether or not they have been fixed. To the customers who do spend so much time playing these games (the time being literally days of ones' life) I find it also upsetting that the fairness of treatment differs so much in terms of support. I find the ability to talk with developers to be a major plus, and excellent, as a consumer does not need to go through Activision support, and be given (possible) incorrect information. However, this is something I believe is only possible due to the size of the Nintendo platform demographic in the Call of Duty franchise, and while it is a nice gesture and is not mandatory, i would appreciate to see better balancing in the Call of Duty ecosystem. Included in this scope is downloadable content.
I personally do not see the incentive to buying downloadable content in terms of map packs; however, for other downloadable items there is incentive if it does not readily impact the game such as camouflages and pre order bonuses6. These items do not directly change the game; however, the incentive to change the game according to the player's personal choices is something that should be available as an option. On the grounds of pre-order bonuses, they should be readily available to all platforms if available for the majority of platforms7. Leaving a platform out brings less incentive to buy a specific version, and can thus steer people away from potential sales on a specific platform. This is due to consumers looking for equality when taking into account what they wish to buy. The matter of 'map packs' is simply math, and the segregation of the player-base, especially a player-base as small as the Wii U's for the Call of Duty franchise. While the Wii is architecturally inferior to the Wii U, its player-base flourishes in comparison, and would have likely been better for 'map packs'.
Suggesting fixes to these issues is not within my domain; however, it is not to say that i have not contemplated and analyzed methods for improving the ecosystem, and potential solutions to issues i deem 'problematic'. With this in mind, i would like to conclude this report.
At the end of the day, I can look at this and wonder why i should continue to bring support for development in a franchise that, while does seemingly care for the consumers, but at the same time has continued to fall in-line with its self over and over again. It lives up to what the world sees as 'Russian history', and the reoccurring issues that plagued Russia for hundreds of years. While change would be good, one thought provoking question “how long will this continue?” should be taken seriously. For as long as the Call of Duty franchise has continued to sell well, there will come a time where it will be unable to properly innovate due to its own parameters for development, and at that point a new turn will have to be made. Whether or not the brand name “Call of Duty” is to be retired has yet to be seen, but if that time is not far off, then it isn't out of place to say that changes are useless when it will not have any meaningful effect later down the road.
In conclusion, I have now brought forth my arguments. I have presented them accordingly, as subjective in nature as they are, and presumably wish for this to be read and 'seen' as something of a critical analysis and thought provoking paper. It is up to management and the developers to make the decisions best fit to aid their developer environment; to inquire the proper costs, to spend and the profits made that will replenish these expenditures. With all of this stated, I thank you very much for reading, and hearing my thoughts.
Makuch, Eddie. "No Battlefield 4 on Wii U - GameSpot." No Battlefield 4 on Wii U. GameSpot, 27 Mar. 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.
1:In addition to the PS3 titles i bought, i had also purchased “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Immobilized” at some point before buying the PS3; however, i did not mention it as i am unable to recall a year of purchase.
2:At this time, i noticed that between the Call of Duty games there was a odd repetition in cut-off support times between titles. Infinity Ward ported titles had less support than Treyarch developed titles
3:Another incentive i'm sure exists is that they also enjoy it. If they didn't enjoy it, but still got paid, then they would have quit doing it a while ago.
4The word “many” should not be taken as a majority, or seen as a majority within the playerbase, but a significant portion who would still continue playing the games nonetheless
5'fairness' as defined by keeping all versions of the game similar without excluding particular things that could still be achieved on all platforms.
6As a personal stance, i view the price of camos for Call of Duty Black Ops 2 to be a rip-off in the face of 99 cent applications and more useful items that i could buy for the same price that was given.
7Activision has not previously released any of their published games on the Nintendo eShop. Clearly this is a business decision, and is not within my report's scope to decide for them.
*I was unable to locate source articles at the time of writing this; This was written before the PS4 and Xbox One were released.
**Infinity Ward Says No to the Wii | The Escapist , and among other sources.