EpicBattleCry - Skirmish 214: It Gets Your Motor Running

We’re getting ghostly on this edition of EBC as we discuss the future of annual installments for franchises like Call of Duty. Plus, MGS fans get grounded, Bungie balks at nickel and diming, and your trip to South Park has been delayed - AGAIN! All of that and more on this monstrous edition of gaming’s most brutal video podcast!

 

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TOPIC: GHOST STORIES - After lackluster reviews for Call of Duty: Ghosts, team EBC evaluates whether or not the growing trend of yearly franchise installments will begin to take a hit. What would truly cause a series like COD to take a break and how do other yearly franchises like Assassin’s Creed, Madden and more learn from the Ghost stories being told? We analyze all things annual in this epic edition of gaming’s most brutal video podcast.


BATTLECRIES:

MEMBER: Patch

My biggest fear of next-gen is a lack of improvement of online infrastructures. Too many times this year gamers have been burned by broken or unstable multiplayer, as evidenced by my own experience in GTA: Online, and is almost becoming industry standard.

I understand this problem has been addressed as a lack of proper technology to test and adapt to the stresses massive multiplayer games, so here's hoping that next-gen will come with improvements to producing these infrastructures. Not only that, but hopefully this generation's online infrastructure dilemmas, will encourage those who had serviceable online gameplay to refine their respective net-codes to provide an even better experience worthy of being deemed "next-gen".

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Comment by Christopher Brady on November 7, 2013 at 5:37pm

FYI:  It seems that Ghosts, despite it's lack luster reviews STILL sold $1 BILLION dollars, once again proving that 'Gamers' don't care about new games, or innovation.  All they want is to shoot their friends in the face, all year every year!

It doesn't matter what the reviews say, Call of Duty at the top is here to stay.

Comment by Esteban Manriquez on November 7, 2013 at 5:49pm

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news Tony but Online Passes have already been replaced. The new/old system in place to crush second hand gaming is now called Digital Distribution. It does all that Online Passes wanted to achieve with no one really making the connection.

Brent as your financial advisor, your future finances for the next upcoming fiscal quarter are bleaker than your projected estimates. The coalescence of your impending diminutive dependent  will subvert your fiscal calculations into an impecuniousness gaming budget. I say  diversify your funds or start a Kickstarter.

Comment by Ivan on November 7, 2013 at 11:11pm

Sorry DK...I know the multiplayer moves COD Units; however, I pick up my yearly copy for the campaign.  Without a doubt, COD4 will go down as a game changer, but after prestiging multiple times across 5 different games...the thrill is gone.  I do enjoy Spec Ops but I'm burnt out on multiplayer.

Comment by Our Lord Despair on November 8, 2013 at 12:39am

@Christopher Brady

 ..."Activision tries to generate headlines by saying it shipped $1 billion worth of units to retailers. Sounds like they sold $1 billion worth of games, right? But that's not the reality. The reality is that $1 billion worth of Call of Duty: Ghosts games are sitting in warehouses and on shelves right now. "

It's all spin and marketing. Yet another fail. Sigh. So many sites are running with the story 'ghosts outsells GTA 5', but it didn't as far as anyone knows.

Comment by Amrit Randay on November 8, 2013 at 1:40am

I'm not even going to lie; after seeing the reviews for Call of Duty: Ghosts, I was pretty happy because it finally feels like reviewers are giving the game a score it deserves.  Giant Bomb gave it a 3/5 and Jim Sterling gave it a 5/10.  Very average scores for, quite frankly, a very average game.  I also watched Total Biscuit's COD: Ghosts PC video and it looked absolutely abysmal.  If Infinity Ward is going to release a mediocre Call of Duty game, then I would hope that reviews score would reflect that.  Ultimately, it does come down to consumers voting with their wallets, but considering the game industry's obsession with review scores and Metacritic, I hope this finally puts a dent in the Call of Duty machine and forces them to step their game up.  

Comment by Darkstorne on November 8, 2013 at 4:18am

My girlfriend just pointed out that Brent sounds like Nicholas Cage, and now I can't un-hear it. Good god. I hear Brent's voice, see Cage's face. I will not sleep well tonight...

Comment by Averagus on November 8, 2013 at 6:48am

I've never really been a COD hater and I still rank COD4 as one of the best games this generation. With that out of the way, I haven't really enjoyed any since MW2. I borrowed Black Ops from a friend and played the MW3 campaign on PC. So I've never actually bought a COD game but I've played a few. I can see why people like it and I have nothing again it though I'm not surprised that it is finally beginning to be seen as stale. I think it will be a while before it really loses its fanbase though.

On the subject of the Stick of Truth, I can only say that any delay is fantastic news considering the company developing it. The subject of games being released buggy, incomplete or broken has come up quite a bit in the last few weeks at EBA and Obsidian are the crowned King Dictators for life of releasing buggy, unfinished games. I know that they've probably had unfair deadlines here and there, but there lack of polish is really something to behold. Don't get me wrong, I've loved all the games they've developed but this is in no way an unfair assessment of their previous work.

I only mentioned last week about having to quit Fallout: New Vegas until a patch arrived or else play with the risk of losing all my progress at any time. Then there was the broken mess that was Alpha Protocol and the clearly unfinished KoTOR 2 which I believe was their first game. I can only hope that this time around the delay means that the publishers or perhaps Matt and Trey themselves are hard on them making sure they do it right. This news has (what should be), the absurd feeling of happiness for the delay. I am literally more excited to play it now.

I can only hope it is released polished and ready to universal praise and with high sales. Then hopefully the publishers will take note and let things be ready - even if a few months after Christmas. Hell, they can release a GOTY edition the following Christmas.

That's all I got this time. Great show as always and fantastic to see the return of puns.

Daniel, make sure you take plenty of briefcases to fill with your dirty publisher cash.

Comment by Hokum on November 8, 2013 at 7:25am

The thing with CoD is that it cannot change for fear of alienating its gamers. No or little change is actually what sells it. I belive that the future for CoD should be MP only, with season statistic resets, new maps and gun rotation. That is what you are getting anyways. CoD has perfected its formula for gameplay and there really is no reason for it to change it. Other games might steal players though and I think that BF4 and in the future Titanfall and Destiny will attract some CoD gamers who want something different, but for the gamer who only has a console for playing yearly editions of CoD nothing will sway him (or her) from that fix.

Comment by Miguel Ramos on November 8, 2013 at 9:37am

It's true that COD and Battlefield are indeed "sports" franchises. But they are not reviewed as such. When you look at yearly reviews for Fifa people rave about "ball physics", and they get the 80's and 90's. No reviewer says that Fifa is stale because it's soccer every year. Reviewers look at Fifa and see sport, the look and COD and see a game. It's a different mindset. But most people don't care about the "normal game" part of COD or Battlefield, they care about the "sports" part of it. So I do believe they should drop the single player, go online only, become a sport like Madden or DOTA. Embrace the game they already are with no fear. Be upfront about it. They are battle arenas, co op or multiplayer, but they are battle arenas with different modes. People would look at them differently and the fatigue conversation would wear off.

Comment by Patch on November 8, 2013 at 12:46pm

Yearly installments of games have indeed been profitable, however I find that they are largely unsustainable. This idea of constantly escalating production costs, mainly in the form of marketing to meet satisfactory profit, occasionally reveals a subpar game underneath the excitement created to lure buyers. From reading/watching reviews of CoD: Ghosts, I find it particularly odd that Ghosts suffers from both recycling of game assets and unimpressive visuals when the production costs were so high.

The takeaway point from this is that I frankly don't mind iterative titles as long as they deliver an experience which improves on the familiar mechanics from its predecessor. However, as I mentioned in the beginning, it is difficult to maintain that kind of creative momentum due to fatigue and the constant expectation to raise the bar for your franchise. Battlefield 4 is one game that did it right in my opinion, it is also a very iterative game like Ghosts, but managed to introduce a handful of new mechanics along with the familiar, enjoyable gameplay which make it welcome addition to its franchise.

Last point, I agree with Tony, the sales figures will be the largest point of contention when considering producing yearly installments, despite critic reviews, the vicious cycle of yearly iterations is built upon the support of the players.

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