Most people who buy Black Ops don’t know that it wasn’t made by the same company as Modern Warfare 2 or about the controversy surrounding Infinity Ward.
It was a big deal for many gamers back in early 2010. Modern Warfare 2 was a huge success, and the company run by Jason West and Vince Zampella was riding high. But then Activision came to town and ousted them, leaving the Call of Duty series in jeopardy. But analyst Colin Sebastian from Lazard Capital Markets said that most people don’t care about the controversy or whether this year’s Black Ops was made by Treyarch or Infinity Ward. To the consumers who don’t follow the videogame press, gameplay is king.
“I think unless you follow the play by play in this industry, you probably aren’t even aware of the drama,” says Sebastian. “You’re more interested in the game experience, not whether a parent company is treating the people at a subsidiary well or not.”
Sebastian then made sure that we weren’t equated the videogame industry with third-world manufacturing. “This isn’t a situation where it’s a company employing children making shoes in Indonesia. It’s about executives asking for millions of dollars. I don’t know if there’s any sympathy for Infinity Ward in terms of the mass market.”
The success of Black Ops relative to MW2 is important for the future of the franchise. “Black Ops is a pretty critical test for Activision,” Sebastian said. “What’s more important for the game? Is it the franchise itself or is it the developer behind the game? If Treyarch can sell just as many units as Infinity Ward, then that would mean the franchise is more important.”
While initial reports have been positive, Activision itself has been slow-playing the sales of Black Ops. The fact that there have been no official announcements that sales records have been broken or anything would lead me to believe that while Black Ops had a great launch, it is definitely no Modern Warfare 2.