Activision Will Enhance Call of Duty Every Few Weeks

It can sometimes feel like the commercials for Activision’s Call of Duty series are always on. If the publisher has its way, the games will be too.

The Call of Duty franchise has been an enormous cash cow for publisher Activision.

It can sometimes feel like the commercials for Activision’s Call of Duty series are always on. If the publisher has its way, the games will be too.

Speaking to via phone last month, Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg said the company looks at the popular shooter series as a persistent world for its players, one that is both constantly evolving and perpetually played.

“The idea of giving people constant incremental playable content and making it so you’re never more than a few weeks away from the next new experience within the Call of Duty universe is part of what we’re experimenting with,” Hirshberg said.

“This franchise doesn’t really behave like most franchises,” he said. “It’s become something of a year-round activity for a large percentage of our player population.”


Activision released Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, the series’ eighth installment, last November for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii and PC. The game moved 6.5 million copies in the U.S. and U.K. during its first 24 hours, setting a brand new day-one sales record and earning the company $400 million. In December,Modern Warfare 3 hit the $1 billion mark.

The Activision chief said that to continue achieving this kind of massive financial success, the company has to listen closely to the desires of its fans. What they want, he said, is more downloadable content. Though 2010′s Call of Duty: Black Ops was followed by the release of several new multiplayer map packs, Hirshberg says that its players are looking for more.

“One of the things that was most appealing when we were researching these ideas with consumers is the idea of breaking up the DLC so that it comes more often and more regularly,” Hirshberg said. “We want to provide DLC to people more often and also experiment with more of a variety in the forms of playable content.”

The publisher might release missions or spec-op modes instead of just multiplayer maps, Hirshberg said.

A large chunk of Activision’s “always on” strategy for Call of Duty is riding on Elite, a hybrid social-networking and stat-tracking service that Activision released alongside Modern Warfare 3 last year. Despite some early technical hiccups, the service has been a rousing success, <a href="http://www go to”>garnering over a million premium subscribers during its first week online.

Premium members pay a $50 yearly subscription fee to get free access to all of the game’s downloadable content in addition to a host of features and strategy guides.

Though it’s tough to predict how Elite will evolve over the next few years, Hirshberg says the company’s strategy is to communicate with fans as much as possible, using social networking tools like Twitter and online message boards to accumulate data on what Call of Duty players want and tweak the nascent service accordingly.

“The nature of this kind of service requires constant iteration,” Hirshberg said. “There are things [in development] that consumers don’t yet know they want… because they can’t imagine it,” he said.

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