Blizzard is falling apart as Activision selling back-to-basics Modern Warfare 2019

Since the original merger between Blizzard and Activision it has been gamers’ worst fear to see corporate greed would somehow lead to the dissolving of the former’s authenticity and identity. Blizzard has always been loved by gamers as a beacon of quality titles which provided great value per dollar while also being complete packages that expanded in large ways, not ‘nickel-and-diming‘ customers the way modern games often do.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, on the other hand, has players reconsidering the franchise as interest has begun to grow. For the first time, Call of Duty’s graphical engine has been given a major upgrade. The title will also focus heavily on its single player campaign which was a feature absent from last year’s Black Ops 4 and will be pressured to earn more than ever with Destiny going third-party as Bungie exits Activision ownership retaining its rights.

The stark difference in situations between the two companies once seen by gamers as opposite ends on a spectrum of morality, has now become invisible to see. There is no difference in the mind of gamers between pay-to-win lootboxes in COD4 Remastered and Diablo Immortal’s mobile announcement representing disrespect to hardcore fans of the franchise who flew to BlizzCon 2018 expecting a full-fledged Diablo title for PC to finally be revealed after seven years of waiting and strong hints by Blizzard that it would happen last year. Other issues at the company include:

  • No New WoW Expansion for 2019
  • No New IPs for 2019
  • Hearthstone revenue down over 50%
  • Heroes of the Storm has seen a major abandoning by players
  • Diablo III has no recurring revenue
  • Diablo IV has no announcement date in sight
  • Overwatch revenue suffering major decline
  • Overwatch League isn’t helping, and is very expensive to Blizzard
  • Executives are focused on China audience which loves pay-to-win
  • Activision now pushing Blizzard to bring all of their classic franchises to mobile platforms with microtransactions

“I don’t think mobile should be a dirty word.” – Wyatt Cheng (Lead Game Designer of Diablo Immortal)

“Fundamentally our roots are PC, a strong PC game company, and that’s not going to change.” – J. Allen Brack (President of Blizzard)

“There’s a perception within Blizzard that finance is making more calls than they ever did in the past.” – Anonymous Ex-Blizzard Dev

“We are being told to spend less at every corner because we have no new IP.” – Anonymous Ex-Blizzard Dev

These quotes reflect an ongoing situation that will be a different story depending on who you ask. Blizzard has already lost members including Nate Nanzer – Overwatch League Commissioner at Blizzard ESports who has moved on to work at the rapidly growing, massive Epic Games empire. Blizzard may also be losing more high profile team members soon including Kim Phan – Global Product Director of Blizzard ESports.

Low morale and poor leadership has been blamed for this migration and much of the responsibility lands on Pete Vlastelica – President and CEO of Activision Blizzard ESports who is said to be crushing the spirit of development with demands that are coming from Pete and other senior management members in which they lack of experience in video games (these are people who used to run television sports programs, a very different medium).

In the end great game designers like those at Blizzard want to work on projects that utilize their skills to the highest level and with an internal pivot to focus on microtransactions, recurring revenues, thinware releases, and just overall lower quality games – creative visionaries who made Blizzard are simply leaving by the droves. We saw this same type of mass exodus lead to the demise of BioWare, Bungie, and countless EA-owned studios who once had a name representing the peak of game design and now are forgotten, mourned, or disgraced.

The value of Activision Blizzard King’s stocks has had a small dip, and investors are wondering if this is the best time to invest in the company given their yearly influx of revenue from the massive Call of Duty franchise. That very well may be the case, as 800 jobs were slashed and the company’s CEO took home major bonuses – leading many to speculate that the company will have huge profits at the expense of having to jettison all non-essential game devs. This is a practice that is being heavily criticized by pundits, but for now sadly won’t change. However, there does seem to be some positive news on the horizon for the company – the next COD might actually be good. This comes as a pleasant surprise some years for a series that is tangled up in a love / hate relationship with its customers.

Infinity Ward has blended into a completely new team over the years but 2018 saw ex-COD devs returning to the studio after jumping ship from EA / Respawn’s potentially cancelled Titanfall 3 project. There are even developers working on the 2019 game after being part of Sony’s Uncharted and The Last of Us studio Naughty Dog. Modern Warfare has been confirmed by independent experts at DigitalFoundry to generate 5 times the geometry of old COD games and the excessive processing of light beyond the visible light spectrum in order to create extremely realistic night vision gameplay among other visual benefits. All of this takes place on a new game engine with back-to-basics gunfights designed to recapture the magic sauce of the original Modern Warfare games that launched COD onto its lofty blockbuster throne in 2007 / 2009.

It is worth mentioning the skeptics’ side of things in regards to this series of games as well. With the recent release of COD4 Remastered under the name of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered” and this 2019 release also sharing the same name, it’s clear that we’ve reached a certain stage with COD. Originally it was said that Infinity Ward wanted to distance themselves from the main COD lineup by titling their 2009 release as “Modern Warfare 2” dropping the COD emblem entirely. Perhaps this is what we will see happen with their next release (likely in 2021 on next-gen consoles).

Since Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2, the COD series has had shaky up and down moments. MW3 released as one of the most over-hyped and low quality titles in the series. To be fair, it was created by the small team remaining at IW after most left for co-founder Vince Zampella’s new Respawn Entertainment studio, with help from an already busy Sledgehammer Games (devs of COD: Advanced Warfare & COD: WWII) and Raven Software (devs of Soldier of Fortune series and collaborate with devs on games including nearly the entire COD series). Gamers seem willing to give MW a chance though.

Giving MW a chance could prove to be a pretty good move if all of the work that went into the game ends up shining through. In preparation for this game developers have traveled the world scanning real world objects including cars burning in the California wildfires to achieve incredible amounts of realism. This is done using a process called photogrammetry which is starting to pick up usage in major studios and was also recently seen being used to develop The Elder Scrolls VI at Bethesda during a Fallout 76 documentary. Zombies and Blackout will remain playable for Black Ops 4 while Modern Warfare will contain a Story Campaign, Multiplayer, and an additional third mode which has yet to be revealed.

The subject matter of MW‘s narrative will also perform an edgy and exciting but very mature entertainment experience. The developers are looking to bring missions to the table which they say will feel ‘ripped from the headlines’ and could scare some folks as they bring up realistic warfare scenarios for the current geopolitical situation. Grim aspects of real life war scenes are also depicted which may give sensitive players an uncomfortable feeling. But in the end, absolute realism has been achieved – and real war is brutal, not glamorous. Attention to detail is a virtue at the development house of MW.

Development work for the new MW engine has been going on for over five years with the game itself apparently being in the works for quite some time as well. There are many COD games in development right now which have been migrated to this new technology and delayed in order to face total redesigns based on player feedback gained through experimentation in Black Ops 4. Some of the benefits include the following:

  • 60 frames per second with absolutely no dips
  • 720P, 1080P, 1440P, 4K, 8K, 16K Native rendering
  • PHOTOGRAMMETRY: Real life images used as textures
  • Full HDR with infrared rendering
  • Dolby Atmos support taking to a next-gen level
  • Ultimate experience on PC
  • Motion capture acting for all roles
  • Ray Tracing support for RTX, AMD, and next-gen
  • Multiplayer Cross-Play with PlayStation, Xbox, and PC

A Nintendo Switch version with cross-play is also rumored to be in the works but has not been confirmed or denied at this point. We may learn more during E3 2019 starting June 11th just 9 days from the time of this writing. Check back at RealGamerNewZ for more!