Treyarch and Activision’s “Black Ops” Success

In the midst of Activision’s ongoing Infinity Ward-related drama, two pretty big announcements came out of Bobby Kotick’s Evil Empire. The first was that Bungie – soon-to-be erstwhile developer of Halo and former Microsoft subsidiary – had signed a ten-year deal with Activision.  While I respect the news that this represents for both organizations, I’m not really going to comment on it.  Bungie has long since passed off my radar, mostly because their development style has become something quite stagnant and uniform with expectations for gamers.  The Halo universe isn’t something that innovates, and never was; it instead takes its cues from other properties in other mediums, and its story evolved into something rote and predictable.

The second announcement to emerge was to debut the newest Call of Duty, subtitled Black Ops.  Following Activision’s plans of  yearly Call of Duty franchise installments, developed by two developers, means that the problems that Activision is having with Infinity Ward are handily side-stepped by passing development duties on – as they did with Call of Duty 3 and Call of Duty: World at War – to Treyarch, an Activision-owned developer that I am not exactly fond of.  Why?  After seeing one shoddy port too many, I started completely ignoring the company, alongside Neversoft, Vicarious Visions, and a host of other Activision-owned developers.

Yes, that’s right, I’m no fan of Activision. (Nor am I much a fan of Call of Duty, but that’s another thing altogether.)

Yet with the announcement of Black Ops, I find something truly appealing coming out of Treyarch’s camp.  The concept of a game that goes through the earliest of covert ops, through Vietnam and into the present is something that could be quite powerful – profound even – if done correctly.

Time will tell.

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