Call of Duty: Black ops announced – but do you care?

“We can’t wait for our community to experience Call of Duty: Black Ops,” said Mark Lamia, Studio Head for Treyarch. “We have focused our entire studio on this game, with dedicated multiplayer, single-player and co-op teams creating the most intense, gripping and riveting experience possible for our fans on all fronts.”  – Activision press release

So it looks like Treyarch have took the wraps off the next call of duty game. This is going to be a big thing, and likely the last game of it’s type that we will know of.

With many of the visionaries behind the call of duty franchise itself leaving and forming an EA based company called Resapwn (no points fo originality), This game will be important to the community itself that has been built during the Call of Duty 4 years.

Their movements and publicity will be just as important, knowing that things such as dedicated servers, paid for DLC content like map packs were going to happen, and were hidden from us.

The big questions I feel won’t be answered until a few years latter, in someone’s written biography or similar about what has been going on – There are too many legal lawsuits and franchises still heavily bringing in money to make more wrong steps.

My opinion is that Infinity Ward were forced to take out dedicated servers, the lifeblood of a competitive community out. This is partly due to being able to provide DLC content (they are the only providers). On the other hand however, knowing that ID also had stated they were taking out dedicated servers; EA’s Bad Company 2 with its pseudo dedicated servers (no control other than provided by EA), and it seems there is a far more deep rooted problem going on.

PC Based games are costing too much to make, and are not returning enough money in the short term.

You can bring up all kinds of piracy statistics, Copy protection problems – but the point is, the market is far larger for console gaming now.

In the previous generation, there was such a large gap for games that The PS2, Gamecube and Xbox were all grouped together, with differences in hardware meaning exclusives were common, and Nintendo’s poor licensing and userbase meant it got the poorer games.

PC Games at the time were very frequently based on engine remakes of First person games, and their mod-ability and other requirements made them tricky and less worthwhile to port to the Console based gamers, who wanted other types of gameplay anyway. Hence, the divide.

The current generation now appears to have merged. We have games like Halo 3, and Modern Warfare 2, both heavily achievement driven, publisher/developer given goals and enforced social sandboxes. The profitable margin of hardware for the pc still is comfortably close to consoles. This means the graphics hardware of the Playstation 3 still can be seen as “good enough”. The Xbox 360 can easily be tied together with a PC release due to it using Direct X architecture and compilers. This makes the group be The PC, Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360.

The Nintendo Wii is the new black sheep, which is able to stay competitive easily due to its amazing market saturation – consoles almost everywhere, even though many people are not bothering to buy games not made by Nintendo themselves. Still, this has been mostly the same for the Gamecube, and the Nintendo 64, and they are happily making their money traditionally thanks to only making hardware that can return a profit from being sold on day one.

Trying to get back on point, Treyarch are going to have a difficult time producing this and choosing which market to go for. Console gamers may be used to the limitations given by the Modern Warfare 2 match making, while PC Gamers won’t look sideways if they go that way. Do Treyarch have the staying power, and resources to develop for two very different groups of gamers, inside the one group. I am hoping for yes.