Eric Hirshberg has addressed suggestions that Call of Duty could evolve into an ongoing, persistent product rather than follow the yearly cycle of new releases it has followed for more than a decade.
In an interview with Game Informer, it was suggested that the introduction of the Headquarters social space (among other things) points to Activision's flagship shooter franchise moving towards a games-as-a-service model. The CEO responded: "It already is in many ways."
He pointed to the "very high percentage" of players that buy each new Call of Duty on a yearly basis, and shift with their friends to the next multiplayer mode in order to maintain social ties.
He continued: "Now, I understand that the properties it doesn't have are that sort of continuous world with expansions and a continuous string of accomplishments that carry over from game to game, so it doesn't have those things that I think classically people associate with a persistent platform, but it does have a very stable community that has been very committed to the franchise and very 'sticky' for a very large number of people, which is, I think, one of the main benefits of a game as a service.
"I think that we have tried to find the right solution for each franchise individually, and Call of Duty has really benefitted from that annual innovation moment, that annual reengagement moment where a lot of people, who maybe played for a couple months and had a great experience but moved on to other things, come back and check out the new game."
The conversation moved to a comparison with Destiny, perhaps the most high profile games-as-a-service product to emerge from the console space. While the Bungie franchise has done an admirable job of retaining its community with regular in-game events and multiple expansions, Hirshberg notes that there are disadvantages too.
"We see that sometimes it's harder to bring a new player into an environment where they feel like 'Oh, I'm three years behind my buddy who's been playing persistently for that length of time'," he said. "So I think there are gives and takes on both sides."
Hirshberg said Activision will continue to service the Call of Duty community based on which game they're playing, citing the release of a new DLC pack for Black Ops III earlier this year - two and a half years after the game's launch.
He concluded: "I think that our goal is to not necessarily completely reinvent the things that are working, but to make the experience for "I'm a Call of Duty player, I like multiple titles within the franchise" - make that experience better, create more benefits for being a loyal player, those are things that we're working on and trying to improve."