As part of its latest earnings report, Activision confirmed the inevitable Call of Duty sequel that’s due out this year. But what came as a surprise is news that this year’s game will return to the franchise’s “roots,” and now we have some idea of why. Speaking as part of a conference call with investors, chief operating officer Thomas Tippl first discussed 2016’s Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.
While he described it as “a high-quality, innovative game,” he revealed it “underperformed [Activision’s] expectations.” We already knew sales were down significantly compared with the previous year’s Black Ops III. That was due in part to Infinite Warfare being a new sub-series, making for a difficult comparison with the established Black Ops. However, the futuristic setting has also been a source of complaints from some longtime Call of Duty fans, a fact that Tippl acknowledged. That doesn’t mean the company necessarily regrets exploring that space.
He explained that:
“It’s clear that, for a portion of our audience, the space setting just didn’t resonate. We have a passionate, experienced studio deeply committed to this direction, and despite the risks we saw, we believe it is important to consider the passions of our game teams in deciding what content to create.
“While it wasn’t the success we planned, it allows us to protect the core tenets of our culture that Bobby discussed: empowering our talented teams to have the chance to pursue opportunities that they are passionate about. Providing an environment that recognizes passion is a critical component of our success, and a process to learn from our mistakes is what makes our company special, and it’s why the most talented people in our industry are attracted to our company.”
Explaining how Activision will take Call of Duty back to its roots, he went on to say that combat will again take center stage throughout the entire game, as well as giving players what they want. As he puts it:
“In 2017, Activision will take Call of Duty back to its roots and traditional combat will once again take center stage. This is what our dedicated community of Call of Duty players and Sledgehammer Games, which has been developing this year’s title, are the most excited about.”
Beyond that, no further details were shared. It stands to reason that this year’s game–which was greenlit more than two years ago–will feature a classic or modern-day setting, but that remains to be seen. For its part, Sledgehammer said of the game on Twitter, “It’s our biggest achievement as game makers.”