Although Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare was one of the best-selling games of 2016, sales of the futuristic shooter were still considered disappointing. Sales of the game were down 50% compared to 2015’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and it was clear that many fans of the franchise had been turned off.
Speaking in a new interivew, Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg explained why he thinks Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare failed to meet sales expectations. Hirshberg admitted that, “with Infinite Warfare we found the guard rail [of creativity]. At the end of the day it just didn’t feel enough like Call of Duty.” Citing the backlash to the game’s futuristic setting, Hirshberg also said that “If anything, [Infinite Warfare] just amplified the demand for boots-on-the-ground that much more.”
Call of Duty: WW2 seems to have gotten the series’ sales back on track, as the return to the series’ roots has made a huge impact with fans. The game has made over $500 million in just three days, highlighting the fact that fans just wanted a traditional Call of Duty experience.
“This is the game you first fell in love with, in the setting you first fell in love with,” said Hirshberg of the new game. The Activision executive added that, “It is completely amplified by the capabilities of new technology, innovations, higher graphics fidelity and it is Call of Duty: WW2 like you’ve never seen before.”
However, the disappointment of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and the early success of Call of Duty: WW2 does not mean that the franchise will be stuck in the past. Hirshberg also explained that “the biggest risk you can take is not taking risks,” and that “when you study longstanding franchises, it feels very risky to change them sometimes.”
This perhaps explains why Activision encouraged Sledgehammer Games to make Call of Duty: WW2 instead of making Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare 2 like the developer wanted. “Oftentimes trying to figure out how to bring something fresh and new to something people have a decade of relationships with is even harder,” said Hirshberg, but in this case that risk paid off.
It will be interesting to see how the Call of Duty franchise continues to embrace that going forward. Straddling the line between classic Call of Duty action that resonates with fans and changes that pique people’s interests could be difficult, but Activision and the series’ developers are determined to do it.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is out now on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.