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What’s in a name? Modern Warfare 2 sheds COD moniker; goes it alone

Submitted by on Sunday, 29 March 20092 Comments

Don't expect to be seeing this logo much in the futureThe politics behind the Call of Duty franchise is almost as juicy as the action presented in the titles. OK, that might be stretching it a little but, for those who follow the ever-shifting backroom manoeuvring within the industry with any interest, the ongoing soap-opera surrounding the successful series of war-games is second to none.

With the recent news that Infinity Ward’s next chapter in the popular franchise will shed its “market recognised” moniker “Call of Duty” and go it alone with the paired down title of Modern Warfare 2, analysts are reading between the lines and postulating if Infinity Ward have rebelled against their publisher telling Activision that it’s their way, or the highway. Or has a shrewd Activision recognised a perfect opportunity and decided that now is the best time to create a new franchise from an existing gaming juggernaut?

As purveyors of daily gaming news, it’s safe to say that we all know that Modern Warfare 2 is the follow-up from Infinity Ward’s seminal classic, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. In the “real” world however, not every consumer will make this distinction, and a decision to willingly cast off a globally respected brand name could be tantamount to “Brand Suicide”.

There is some speculation that Infinity Ward, tired of the perpetual ping-pong between itself and Treyarch in terms of the annual Call of Duty ‘duties’, has had enough of the swinging back and forth and have told Activision that they want off the COD-train. Whether this is a wise move remains to be seen but, considering the vitriol that has flown around concerning the two studios involved and their respective publisher, we’re thinking Infinity Ward simply wish to no longer be associated with the series and desire to branch out, forging a new franchise of their own. Not wanting to lose such a prodigious developer in the process, Activision may have weighed the alternative and ultimately complied. Or, and this is equally possible, Activision, in their infinite wisdom, recognised the fact they had two megaton franchises on their hands and now was a good a time as any to divide and conquer.

Another interesting element of this development is how this new franchise fits with Activision’s overall plans for the future. Contacted about the name change, the super-publisher responded about Infinity Ward’s emancipation from the COD shackles by stating:

“Modern Warfare has taken on such a life of its own, it has become our focus now.”

Does this statement suggest that the pecking order of both war simulators over at Activision is now officially fixed with the more critically received Infinity Ward games found higher than Treyarch’s somewhat tepidly received editions on the attention totem pole? Will the Call of Duty name become diluted? A shoddy ringer of what was once the paradigm of historically based FPS action? Considering World at War, Treyarch’s latest Call of Duty episode, performed phenomenally well sales wise, and with some people believing it’s even better than Infinity Ward’s Game of the Year (pick a year, any year) masterpiece, would Treyarch solely handling the COD reins necessarily be such a bad thing?

Finally, with Activision fixed on having a new COD game each holiday season, does this equate to an official Treyarch produced game one year along with the new Modern Warfare edition the next or will Activision ferry out the development duties to yet another studio in order to keep the shelves filled each year with a game sporting the Call of Duty name? What would a Call of Duty be like built on the Killzone 2 engine? Or Crytek’s new CryENGINE3 for that matter?

These are interesting times indeed.