Much has been made of Activision’s decision to release the recent Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered exclusively with Call of Duty Infinite Warfare, as opposed to releasing the two games separately. Predictably, many gamers weren’t happy. It seemed to be a business decision that stank of an opportunity for money-grabbing for a game that Activision knew was high in demand. Since the announcement, Activision has done nothing to change minds about the situation, and they won’t until Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare Remastered gets released as a standalone title like so many have suggested it will.
Despite all this, we can’t fault Activision for a lack of common sense. The Call of Duty series has suffered a downward spiral in its reputation over recent years, whether that be through lack of innovation or dodgy business decisions. Does that matter? Perhaps not. Back in 2007, when people spoke of Call of Duty, they spoke highly. They commended how Call of Duty 4 had changed the first person shooter genre for the better. Nowadays, we see huge portions of gamers rolling their eyes at the state of the annualised franchise. Nevertheless, sales have hardly taken a turn for the worse and, unless they do, there is little reason for Activision and its branch of Call of Duty studios to take their foot off the gas.
Call of Duty is a victim of the age-old debate in gaming. If a franchise is as popular as Call of Duty, people will inevitably complain about it, but people will also buy it. Often times, the people complaining about it are the same people buying it. It’s easy to tell people to ‘vote with their wallets’; it’s not so easy to stop young gamers from being excited about the latest online shooter that they’re friends are playing when they’re in the game store with their parents.
Knowing this, Activision capitalised. Gamers look back at the industry and its games through rose-tinted glasses. Activision knew that, whilst the majority of Call of Duty fans who are going to buy Infinite Warfare with the sole purpose of playing Modern Warfare Remastered aren’t going to very happy about it, they are certainly going to do it. Whether or not a business decision results in customer satisfaction means little to Activision when they know many gamers won’t be able to resist the urge to play Modern Warfare Remastered, regardless of their distaste for the Infinite Warfare bundle fiasco.
What’s at least some consolation is that Infinity Ward has done one heck of a job with Modern Warfare Remastered. It’s rare in this day and age that we saw remasters of such high quality. Often times developers will merely give their game a fresh lick of paint, but what Raven Software has done with Modern Warfare Remastered is to be admired. The new version looks updated in every respect and contains tons of new animations and assets, making it feel relevant once more.
Of course, once Infinite Warfare is released and gamers have had time to give it a chance, all of this could be looked back on in hindsight as a waste of time spent worrying about the ordeal. It seems as though many gamers have disregarded Infinite Warfare as a game that is going to be bad, and that Modern Warfare Remastered is part of the package to compensate for that. Whilst Infinite Warfare may not be incredible, and I am certainly not in favour of the decision to force gamers to buy one product if they want to play the other, it could end up becoming good value for the money. Let’s face it, Call of Duty games are never bad. In fact, chances are gamers will have fun blasting through the single-player campaign and be provided with impressive longevity in multiplayer.
Gamers shouldn’t have to pay for a game they’re not excited for in order to play one that they are, but if Infinite Warfare turns out to be a thrilling FPS it will soften the blow. Either way, Activision will be delighted by the financial fruits of this business decision. In the end, that’s what matters most to a publisher.