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Analyst: Infinity Ward coverage is "overdone"

Call of Duty "more about execution than innovation" says analyst

The media furore over the crisis at Infinity Ward has been "overdone" according to Cowen and Company analysts Doug Creutz and Adam Nolly.

In an investor note the analysts acknowledged that the development team working on 2011's Call of Duty title (rumoured to be Modern Warfare 3) would be "significantly changed" from those that worked on the first two Modern Warfare games.

However, the analysts suggest that the proven track record of non-Infinity Ward entries in the series, such as Treyarch's World at War, gives little cause for concern - with Activision having 18 months to build a new team.

"We believe the future success of Call of Duty will be more about execution than innovation, as the series is now well established with proven gameplay mechanics," said the analysts.

"In our view the largest negative from the Infinity Ward situation is the significantly diminished likelihood that the studio will be the source of new hit franchises beyond Call of Duty," suggested Creutz and Nolly.

However, they point out that Activision's share price and financial plan already implies little or no growth. As such they kept their rating for the shares as "outperform", with a strong recommendation to buy.

Also commenting on Activision's new 10 year deal with Bungie, the pair stated that: "Activision's economics on the deal will be significantly more substantial than straight distribution economics."

They noted that despite Bungie retaining control over the intellectual property rights Activision was still predicting an operating income margin of around 20 per cent - much higher than would normally be expected for such a deal.

Many have taken this to suggest a new style of business model for Bungie's game, possibly involving online subscriptions.

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Latest comments (3)

Jason Avent VP, Studio Head, NaturalMotion8 years ago
It sounds to me as though this analyst either doesn't play games or can't relate how games are made to how the quality of a game is realised. Modern Warfare isn't about innovation. It's all about execution. It always has been. The games run at 60 fps, have good, exciting action stories, good controls, good pacing and lots of other great polish but they're just first person shooter games based in the real world. They're best of breed in a fairly crowded marketplace which includes giants like the Tom Clancey games, Battlefield and MoH along with countless also-rans. These other games don't achieve the success of Modern Warfare because they aren't as slick or as well judged. The Infinity Ward team had a certain magic formula that comes across in the quality of their games from the first Medal of Honor games (same core team) through CoD's 2, 4 and 6. Sorry but the Treyarch games just aren't as good and probably never will be. CoD will die within two game releases or less. Shame, I really liked it. CoD 4 was the game of this generation for me. Stunning stuff.

World at War capitalised on confusion in the marketplace as consumers who bought CoD 4 assumed that CoD 5 would be just as great. It wasn't. At 85% metacritic, CoD 5 was good but by no means great. It was just about good enough to fill the gap. That's not sustainable though. 85%-scoring games won't sell 15 million units. Not on this planet mate.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jason Avent on 2nd May 2010 4:31pm

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Ade Gbenjo Freelance Games Journalist 8 years ago
Couldn't have said it better myself Jason.
I agree with you wholeheartedly and the fact that the now 'Respawn' team have remained the leading developers in this sector for so long is further evidence that you can't just conjour a team and expect the same results, no way.

Of course we are bound to get something different, perhaps even better, but you cannot deny the quality millions of gamers adhere to.
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James Woodall QA/Graphics Director, Blind Mind Studios8 years ago
I also have to agree with Jason's comment. My thoughts precisely on the matter.
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