At the time of this writing Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 has grossed over a billion dollars in sales in less than a month. That's a massive number that has both fans and industry professionals coming to the same realization. The FPS genre is a dominant entertainment behemoth, and it shows no signs of slowing.
Daniel Suarez is the VP of Production at Activision. He knows what he's talking about when it comes to the Call of Duty franchise, and the FPS genre as a whole. He shared some of his thoughts about the title and where the industry may be headed.
The fans will always have expectations about what should be included or discarded in a title, and we try and get out in front of that. Ultimately it's the fan's game.
—Daniel Suarez, Activision
"What we've wanted to do from day one was create a product with entertainment value that goes beyond just being a video game," says Suarez. "We know how much fans expect from these titles. We know that we have to provide fans with something new and innovative. That's where all of the new modes come in within multiplayer—campaign and zombies. Particularly with the 'Pick 10' system in multiplayer. It's just another level of customization and personalization within the game."
Some fans and critics have predicted that the FPS genre is heading towards an inevitable plateau. Pessimists maintain that current limitations of game-play and console capabilities will lead to a creative dead end. Fan retention is another major concern for franchises like Call of Duty. These issues may keep other developers up at night—but not Suarez.
"This is the ninth Call of Duty game and we are experiencing constant growth," he says confidently. "This franchise, and Black Ops specifically, has become a pop-culture phenomenon. We are hugely engaged with the fans. Direct engagement via Twitter has allowed us to look at the things that fans were asking for, or things fans didn't like, and take all of that into consideration when we were developing the game." For example, a map that was going to be pulled from the title—the wildly popular 'Nuketown 2025' map—had been reinstated after cries of outrage from gamers.
"We are our own worst critics, by far. The landscape for shooters is so competitive, fans are immediately able to tell if the effort wasn't put in. We here are all gamers, and we live this. There is a passion here that has allowed us to maintain our foothold at the top. We are always trying to be more flexible, more dynamic, and more critical of our efforts. The fans will always have expectations about what should be included or discarded in a title, and we try and get out in front of that. Ultimately it's the fan's game."