“You Want Call of Duty to Change? You’re a Hypocrite”

Everyone is calling for Call of Duty to "change" but is that really what the fans want?
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The reason the headline is in quotes is because I didn’t say it. I overheard it the other day.

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Standing in the local game store, this is what I heard as I walked out the door. I almost turned around and came back just to hear the rest of the argument, because it seemed bizarre. How could anyone call someone a “hypocrite” if they simply say they want the long-running Call of Duty franchise to do something different?

By all means, I’m behind the idea of an innovative CoD. I think the series needs a definite shot in the arm after Ghosts. It’s never hypocritical to say what you believe, right?

However, as I drove home, I started to imagine the rest of the argument, and what may have been that particular gamer’s contention. As it turns out, if he was arguing the point I think he was arguing, he was missing one critical point: The fans want one thing, the non-fans want another.

Is it the fans who want change, or those who never liked the franchise in the first place?

I mean, look at it. Take Final Fantasy or Resident Evil, for instance. Many, if not most, followers of each franchise bemoan the new direction. More “action-y” for both, faster and dumber, and in general, a big departure from yesteryear. Many will argue that this sort of “change” is just plain bad; the developers could’ve done a better job. That being said, is there really any way those games could’ve been changed to satisfy the long-time fans?

Fans are fans because they like the way a certain game plays. CoD fans are fans because they like the way that particular shooter plays. Do they really want the series to change? Or do they simply want some new stuff added to the already successful formula? I’m sure it’s the latter. I’m sure the fans don’t want the game to become a third-person shooter or something like that. Just like Final Fantasy fans didn’t want the series to adopt action traits.

Those who hate CoD want it to either go away or magically become “fresh” again. Well, where’s the line? At what point does it become something entirely different, which in turn alienates the fans?

Infinity Ward was right, you know

Last year, Infinity Ward boss Mark Rubin gave an interview to OXM, in which he compared CoD to a sport:

“There is the obvious truth that if this were football, and next year they decided we only want seven players a side and you can use your hands, I don’t think people would want to go to many of those games. So we can’t change too many of the core rules, and the core rules are really simple. You’re a player, it’s in first-person, you have a weapon in your hand, and you run around shooting other people.”

There are rules to follow and if you break those rules, the fans will be pissed. At the same time, you’ve got legions of other gamers calling for change because they consider the series to be stale and repetitive. They also see CoD as an evil entity that’s crippling originality and freshness in the industry, but that’s a whole different topic.

The point is that nobody is being hypocritical when they say they want CoD to “change.” I’m guessing the fans have no interest in drastic change, while the haters want “change” just because they can’t stand shooters and especially CoD.

If you’re the developer, who do you listen to?

The fans who do indeed want improvements (but not a complete overhaul) or the legions of non-fans who want a complete rebuild? If I’m the publisher, I know exactly what I want because I know a winning formula when I see one. If I’m a developer, I don’t want to take the Square Enix or Capcom route and piss off my long-time fans just to have a shot at pleasing other gamers.

Stick to what works and improve on that formula. I don’t want Gran Turismo to become Twisted Metal, either, you know.

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A gaming journalism veteran of 14 years, a confirmed gamer for over 30 years, and a lover of fine literature and ridiculously sweet desserts.