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Welch ready to "dethrone" Call Of Duty

Ex-Activision vet and founder of U4iA wants to take down competition and hit 30m users with browser shooter

U4iA founder and Activision veteran Dusty Welch has revealed his expectations for his new Seattle studio, which includes taking on the Call Of Duty franchise that he helped to create.

"I created Call Of Duty to dethrone the established leaders back in the early 2000s, and you bet my goal at U4iA is to repeat that success again," he told GamesIndustry.biz in an exclusive interview.

"Providing a AAA, first person shooter experience in a browser is really what the end game is for us. And I think that's going to help lead the new dynamic and a transition of gamers into the social."

Look at my track record and you can imagine that my goal for U4iA is to once again dethrone the established players, across the spectrum

The first person social shooter is as yet unnamed, but will be released next year.

He also discussed the opportunities provided by creating a shooter in the fast moving world of browser based gaming, and said he's confident about hitting the same numbers as companies like Riot Games, whose League Of Legends RPG just hit 30 million registered users.

"I think that yeah, U4iA can match or exceed the user base that Riot is experiencing today," he said.

"Much bigger genre, sticky proposition, e-sport competitive first person shooters are the hallmark of why so many gamers are playing on Xboxes and PlayStation 3s today, and we're going to provide a whole unique way to experience that in a AAA free-to-play package."

From anyone else this might seem an overconfident claim, but Welch has the track record to back it up, during his time as senior vice president and head of publishing at Activision he lead the Guitar Hero franchise, and created and launched Call Of Duty.

"I think you look at my track record of knocking off the established players and you can imagine that my goal for U4iA is to once again dethrone the established players, across the spectrum, across the space and allow gamers to again unite and experience the best consumer proposition that's available, and usher in a new genre experience. That's what U4iA is going to provide."

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Latest comments (28)

Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game7 years ago
Does everyone not try to say how they are going to dethrone the leader? Is he aiming for funding?

Free to play is very big right now, no doubt about it, and loads of people may jump on this, but if you are aiming for the Call of Duty crowd, are you not aiming for a crowd who are willing to pay Ł45 and are the least likely to be swayed by free? I'm sure if you can offer the same experience, but talking about "e-sport competive" that seems to be the place where game changing microtransactions will be least tolerated, and frames per second matter far more than getting the game free.

I wish him well and hope is game is good, but can measure of success only really be measured against Call of Duty. If I go see a sci-fi film I don't need the director to tell me it's going to dethrone Avatar (and that's a good thing).
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Patrick Day-Childs Features Writer, Pixel Enemy7 years ago
Oh no, not social games. That's the last thing we want.
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FPS social gaming?
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Show all comments (28)
Harrison Smith Studying Games and Graphics Programming, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology7 years ago
How to fail at dethroning call of duty:

1. Clone Call of Duty

2. Clone Call of Duty and offer significantly less features and content

3. Clone Call of Duty but claim that its not call of duty to all the fans

4. Say you have a COD killer, when you have cloned Call of Duty.

Umm, that pretty sums it up, and all I can say if you want to dethone call of duty, dont Clone the game would be a start.
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Matthew Hill Head of Recruitment, Specialmove7 years ago
Well he's succeeded in getting eyeballs on his company !
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Jason Stewart Associate Producer, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe7 years ago
Counter -Strike
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 7 years ago
A FPS social game??? WTF??? To me its just a FPS on a browser. I doubt the content will be as high and well produced as on a console. Dont get me wrong I truely dislike what call of Duty has become, "a yearly thing" but I acknowlage its success. i doubt this "Online call of duty killer, browser based FPS, social game which is free to play but they charge you... th...thing" he's creating can offer the same frame rate, graphics, physics and AI the console and PC games offer. this guy talks big, like the Angry Birds creator. But i want to see these guys reproduce the success of these big games like AngryBirds and COD. And COD is backed by HUGE marketing funds. The amount of publicity done for the game is staggering, probably justifying the yearly release. Call of duties success is not only because of the actual game, but how they market it. That "Vet vs Noob" commercial was pretty damn awsome, and I myself dont play COD, except with my girl friends kid, who is into it. All you really do is run around and shoot stuff. The weapons arent varied enough and really dont add any strategic value. So really, i blame much of COD success to good Marketing,PR and R&D.
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Liam Stockley Studying Computer Science, Nottingham Trent University7 years ago
Considering the problems id have had with Quake Live, I'm not too optimistic for this.
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 7 years ago
A free-to-play browser FPS and the biggest-selling, premium-priced FPS series ever aren't even competing in the same market space, so why would he be aiming to "dethrone" COD?

If anything, he should be making comments about wanting to deliver an experience on a par with COD and with the fanbase and loyalty of Team Fortress 2.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 7 years ago
And another thing, this guy isnt responsible for COD's success. Its a combination of hard work and effort from multiple people and multiple games in the franchise done by differant groups. I dont know why he is so cocky.
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Teut Weidemann Consultant Online Games, Ubisoft Germany7 years ago
Browser is not equal to social.

He sounds arrogant though. Considering CoD was a MoH clone as the team went form EA to Activision he created nothing, just a mod.
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Germán Vázquez Executive Producer, Neggi Studio7 years ago
I wish everyone in the comments will give him a chance to prove it instead of just going after him cause he sounds a little overconfident, but I mean what will you do or how will you go about to start a new company? Will you do it just to be number 2? or will you go all in and aim for the biggest enchilada, in this case COD, and try to innovate?

Yes Quake live failed, but these are different times and the social/casual model has changed the game plus free-to-play is proving again and again that is a viable model so while it is indeed a challenge, he has every chance to make it work. I mean companies like Zinga are more valued than EA, just based on social games! Crazy times I tell you but I'm glad I will be able to witness if he makes it or not.
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Rick Ellis Tech Director, ArenaNet7 years ago
Browser game... They aren't taking out CoD...
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Max Priddy7 years ago
Browser games, much like streamed cloud gaming isn't the way forward in my opinion. Cloud gaming lacks the configurability and moddability (plus look fuzzy as hell in my experience with OnLive), and browser games are highly unlikely to reach true graphical parity with what's possible with the "standard" method of installing or downloading a game to your hard drive, sure graphics aren't the be all and end all but if I have a choice of playing a game in a browser, or downloading it and having better textures/nicer visuals/faster load times; I think you know what I'm going to take. ;)
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Andrew Clayton QA Weapons Tester, Electronic Arts7 years ago
@German: There have been a few notable attempts at "taking down" CoD already, most of which haven't even come close. He may have the motivation in his heart, but where is the plan? What is he going to offer that would draw the audience away from CoD permanently?

The social and mobile gaming audience is totally different than the hardcore audience. Yes, you will get some overlap, but the requirements are completely different.

And don't bring up Zynga, it's completely overvalued. Once things shift to a new space Zynga will go away and some other company will take its place.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 7 years ago
*Sigh* Why not try to dethrone Half-Life instead? Or even better, do something that's innovative and fresh in the genre? Xerox something too much and the quality goes down, no matter the level of ambition.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 7 years ago
As long as Activision makes a billion Dollars more in revenue, I figure they do not care much about anybody having more players running around in yet another modern military shooter.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 7 years ago
Klaus, I see your point, but at some point, that gets old and at some point, someone just might do a better CoD than CoD is doing, which would render it pointless.

Maybe.

Of course, CoD IS pretty damn bulletproof these days. I joked with some friends a few years back that if they made a "Call of Duty in Spaaaaaaaaaaaaaace!", that would be the end of the franchise. Cue the Moon expansion (with zombies) and well, I was wrong as hell (but I did laugh for about five minutes when I saw that poster)...

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Kieren Bloomfield Software Engineer, EA Sports7 years ago
Why does everything have to be a COD killer these days? Do something different dammit! Does anyone else think U4iA is a terrible name too? It took me quite a few reads before it twigged how it's meant to be pronounced.
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Rui Martins Senior Software Developer 7 years ago
Technological hurdles aside, the only interesting value that can be harvested from this experiment, is if he can produce a game that can really blend the social relation between virtual "combat" buddies.

If he can produce this comraderry and sense of bellonging to a group, which is what "social" is all about (human relations), together with some decent graphics and gameplay, he will have a large enough hit.

The user base will be large for sure.
But probably not exactly the same guys from the hardcore FPS genre.
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Arthur N7 years ago
lets sit back and watch him fail.
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Tyler Moore Game Designer & Unity Developer 7 years ago
Big claim, waiting to see delivery. Good luck on making the giants sweat.
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James Nevins Environment and Architecture Modeller 7 years ago
Perhaps an idea like this would be more successful in 10 years when more homes have proper internet connections.
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Teut Weidemann Consultant Online Games, Ubisoft Germany7 years ago
"and browser games are highly unlikely to reach true graphical parity with what's possible with the "standard" method of installing or downloading a game to your hard drive"

someone missed the train to the future right here
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Brian Smith Artist 7 years ago
Call of dutyville anyone ?

It'll be great. Gifting camo items for avatars and buying potted plants to brighten up our trenches with big golden coins. There'll be more female players too so probably some curtains and cushions for jeeps as well.
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Matthew Aileru Studying Computer Science & Games Technology, City University London7 years ago
Ah brill! Another event to "get the popcorn out for" after reading about Brendan McNamara's new 'Whore of the Orient' game...
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 7 years ago
Greg - "*Sigh* Why not try to dethrone Half-Life instead? Or even better, do something that's innovative and fresh in the genre?"

I completely agree with this - I hate how we're in this situation where most FPSs are only concerned with copying COD, so they're all utterly linear, have poor AI and too much reliance on scripted set-pieces. For all the revolution Halo brought to the FPS market ten years ago, hardly anyone successfully copied what are IMO its best elements – the wide open spaces & sense of scale and battles feeling dynamic and subservient to the excellent AI. The closest any game has probably come since then is Crysis, although the Half Life 2 saga is also brilliant for its own reasons (Episode 2 probably being my favourite).

I really like the FPS genre, but I wish that developers and publishers would be a little more brave than simply trying to copy COD in the last few years. As a side note, I don’t have a gaming PC, so that’s a no-go for me.

Kieren - "Does anyone else think U4iA is a terrible name too? It took me quite a few reads before it twigged how it's meant to be pronounced."

I'm guessing it's 'euphoria'? I agree it's a poor company name; I didn't even realise there was a particular way of pronouncing it until you mentioned it.
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Jason Barnidge Sr. Technical Artist 7 years ago
"...not from this particular terrestrial, uh, realm"
Do I smell tiger blood?
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