MW3 vs BF3 – Activision Publishing CEO speaks out

The multimedia juggernaut that is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and its nemesis Battlefield 3 may be several weeks away, but the war has well and truly begun.

Employees from each title’s publisher have been attributed to some interesting comments, the latest of being EA CEO John Riccitiello’s prediction that Modern Warfare 3‘s fan-base will “rot from the core” when it finally goes up against its competitor.

Needless to say, attention very quickly turned to Activision for a response, and in his address, Publishing CEO Eric Hershburg did in fact respond, but not in the way many people expected:

We will not be spending time tearing down competitors; in fact, we’re pulling for them. I want as many games as possible to succeed, whether we created them or not. When someone does something great, it benefits us all. This isn’t politics. In order for one to win, the other does not have to lose. We shouldn’t be tearing each other apart; if we act like there are a finite number of gamers in the world, there will be. We will not be spending time tearing down competitors; in fact, we’re pulling for them.

To be perfectly honest, I agree with him. Listening to game developers and publishers actively deride one another’s products can come across as a childish way of publicising your product. But in this situation I don’t think it’s so clear cut.

Let’s give Riccitiello the benefit of  quoting more than a single phrase:

The honest truth is I think Modern Warfare is going to be a really good game. I think that in a weird way it’s starting to feel a little to me like the Disneyland abstraction of a war game – a little bit jump the shark. So it feels a little bit like that to me. And I think there’s a market for that.

The CoD franchise has for some time now been criticised by many areas of the press for its highly linear gameplay and exposition, and an overall lack of depth. Riccitiello is hardly saying anything new, he’s just chosen a great metaphor.

The CoD franchise is just that: it’s a franchise. By splitting development duties with Treyarch, Infinity Ward have committed to a tight two-year window to guarantee a CoD release each year, and on the same game engine.

In the meantime, DICE and EA have been extremely keen to show off exactly what the new Frostbite 2.0 engine is capable of (on high-spec PCs at least), and the frankly stunning scale of carnage that gamers can expect.

If you haven’t seen it, here is the latest multiplayer trailer:

There always will be a market for those Disneyland rides – they undeniably have their moments. But I am left wondering how much of MW3‘s fanbase will still be there come 2012 if Battlefield 3 can live up to the hype.

And if it does suffer, then hopefully that will break the current development cycle and force Activition to live up to their own words and inject some well-needed originality into their next iteration.

Links: Thanks to lifehack.org for the amusing pic.

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