As much as I love Call of Duty—and I do love it—the franchise seems to have lost a bit of luster recently. I'm not sure if I've just grown tired of CoD’s gameplay over last five years, or if 2012 distracted with me with a stream of good games.
Either way, I'm not the only person who feels this way. Activision's numbers have taken a pretty significant slide over the past twelve months. Black Ops 2 is arguably the best title in the Call of Duty franchise, but it didn't fly off of the shelves like its predecessors. But this might be a good thing.
Here's the thing: Activison's release schedule allows gamers to expect a lot from their favorite franchises. But not every company has an Activision-sized budget.
And, even though we'd all like to get more bang for our buck, I get the feeling that gamers don't understand how time-consuming and costly developing a video game actually is. And when customers are complaining about the cost of a product while studios are simultaneously going bankrupt, the industry has a problem.
Plus, developers like thatgamecompany, the folks behind Journey, don't have the budgeting luxury of a big-name developer. Journey was a risky venture for thatgamecompany. Sure, it paid off this time, but the company practically went bankrupt in the process. If gamers and critics hadn't responded like they did, or Activision had decided to release another title on the same day, we could have seen another indie developer shutter their doors.
Activision isn't going anywhere anytime soon, but if gamers really are moving away from Activision's heavy-handed, big-budget strategy, we could see a renaissance in the indie market. Plus, with the Ouya and GameStick just around the corner, indie developers have a new venue to focus their efforts.
And let’s not forget about the Steam Box. If that little gem ever materializes, we could have a massive migration from console gaming.
So, with Activision's flagship losing a bit of steam, the market becomes a little more welcoming for risk takers like thatgamecompany. Plus, it forces gamers to align their expectations with reality.
Date: February 13, 2013