Nov 11, 2011

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Are Gamers Getting Tired of Call of Duty’s Multiplayer?

Are Gamers Getting Tired of Call of Duty’s Multiplayer?

You know how the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Well, that might work for some things, but with gaming franchises, that saying can turn gamers away from your game in just a few short years. This might be happening now with Modern Warfare 3. The insanely popular shooter might be turning away fans by simply providing the same excellent gameplay it always has without major revisions. Extremely low user scores have appeared on sites like Metacritic and GameSpot. Angry comments on forums and reviews can been seen all over the internet, and while this might be the loud minority, the difference between this release and MW2 is substantial.

If you haven’t played a Modern Warfare/Call of Duty game in the past three years, MW3 will most likely blow your mind much like Call of Duty 4 did for most shooter fans. But it seems that loyal fans of the franchise are starting to get a little tired of the formula. With low Metacritic scores ranging from 1.7 on the PC to 2.7 and 3.1 on the 360 and PS3, respectively, thousands upon thousands of gamers are clearly unhappy with what they have played so far. Going further, if you look at GameSpot, the user score there ranks in the 6.0s, depending on platform. Compare that to the highly rated MW2 where they sat 6.0 on Metacritc and 8.8-7.5 at GameSpot.  While you always have to take these scores with a grain of salt, the extremely low scores display a clear discontent from the user perspective. It should also be noted that some of the low scores are also coming from gamers who are having issues with Call of Duty Elite, Activision’s web-based companion to Modern Warfare 3. These gamers aren’t too happy with the issues they’ve seen so far with Elite, and that could be adding fuel to the fire.

Modern Warfare 3 Team Deathmatch

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Black Ops offered small changes to the multiplayer from Modern Warfare 2, changing just enough to keep things fresh and exciting. But when another Modern Warfare title comes out, fans expect a big change, not “Treyarch” type additions. Yet from reading a lot of comments, and from playing the multiplayer myself, I definitely don’t feel like I’m playing a “brand new” game.

I’m not saying that the Call of Duty games shouldn’t feel somewhat familiar, but it seems to me (and a lot of gamers) that not enough has changed in MW3 to make the experience any different from its predecessors. The sound effects remain lackluster (completely opposite of what the COD franchise used to be known for back in the PC days), the campaign remains short lived, the same matchmaking issues remain, and the perks remain relatively the same, but with new names and logos. I mean, seriously, is it that hard after two years to have matchmaking where I don’t jump into a game that has already started, or I don’t have to sit through host migration screens every hour, or where melee lunge is taken out, along with the phantom melee (you know the one where you aren’t even on the other person’s screen, yet he somehow found a way to knife you?)? I have more issues I can bring up, but now isn’t the time.

The big issue here is that Activision relies on its sales numbers and critic reviews to judge the success of the game. The game sells amazingly well, so why try something new ,right? I don’t need a brand-new multiplayer experience every year, but if you take two years to develop a game, I want to see the benefits from the long development time. Activision apparently listened to PC gamers this time around, trying to give them everything they wanted, yet they are the most outraged at how MW3 turned out, so obviously they didn’t listen all that well. It also doesn’t hurt that their biggest competitor has strong PC roots.

Though MW3 just released this week, gamers have taken the web to voice their dislike for the title and I don’t blame them. They want the same experience they had when they played COD 4, which is really an unfair request, but is it unfair to ask Activision to at least attempt to offer that to gamers? No. Very few reviews were brave enough to criticize the tired multiplayer formula because they continue to say “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” but how long can this really go on? We’ve seen it in sports franchises for years (Madden being the prime example), but we’ve also seen them make big changes after a few iterations and after listening to fans (NHL, FIFA, MLB the Show are perfect examples of this).

With Treyarch likely to follow MW3’s style, it won’t be until 2013 that we could see a larger departure from the last three iterations of Call of Duty games. And it might make sense, with a possible next gen console releasing around that time. One review I read said he wasn’t disappointed by what is offered but he just doesn’t have the same addictive draw to it that previous games felt, and that definitely speaks to those who are growing tired of the same formula. It is clear that some gamers are unhappy right now, and while they might not be mad enough to jump ship, one thing is clear: Activision better start listening to gamers and not their accountants.