EA took the jab a while back, hinting that Activision's mega-blockbuster Call of Duty franchise could follow in Guitar Hero 's unfortunate footsteps.
The implication is that Activision ran the once-billion-dollar music franchise into the ground by flooding the market with not-so-new titles and spin-offs. At the time, Guitar Hero was the king of the massively popular music/rhythm genre, which also included major competition in Rock Band . But the pricey bundles and sheer number of installments with "Hero" in the title over-saturated the market and Guitar Hero went from making billions to barely hauling in a few hundred million…and that was only in the span of a couple years.
Currently, as gigantic as Call of Duty is right now, could the same thing potentially happen again? There's only one CoD entry each year and popularity shows no sign of tailing off (unless you count the fact that Modern Warfare 3 has yet to beat Black Ops in terms of lifetime sales), and there are no CoD spin-offs. Well…none yet. Sledgehammer is back on the radar with their mysterious CoD effort. That would qualify as a spin-off, right? Is that the start of multiple entries in the near future? And if so, are we once again looking at over-saturation?
Well, I'm going to say no. Thing is (and I said this at the very start of the plastic instrument craze), the music/rhythm fascination was a fad. Although it appeared to have staying power on the surface, most serious hardcore gamers weren't clamoring for every new Guitar Hero release. It was more of a casual/party experience, while Call of Duty – as much as I may not like to admit it – doesn't fall into the same category. It's a shooter and as such, has its roots in industry history; shooters have been popular since Wolfenstein and that's just the way it is. Shooters aren't a fad.
So unless Activision completely and totally mishandles the franchise, I don't see it taking a colossal nosedive like Guitar Hero . There were extenuating circumstances in the latter instance, even if it's absolutely true that CoD can't remain top dog forever…