Respawn's website has finally updated from being a blank page with a contact email address to an actual website, complete with a fuzzy screenshot, a handy twitter post tracker and some brand new contact email addresses. Fans of the old Infinity Ward know that this is just a sign of things to come and a chance for them to put some polish on the old hype engine and get ready to (sometime in the next year or so) reveal exactly what it is they've been working on. Considering their work in the industry so far, many FPS fans are really hoping that whatever Respawn Entertainment has to offer it will be as detailed and addicting as their prior games. But Activision haters shouldn't hold their breath, particularly those rooting for Call of Duty to finally meet it's match against its own makers. It's not because they don't have the talent, but if the scraps of information pulled together about their next title are to believed, Respawn may not even intend to go up against their former glory child.
It's important to note that chiefly amongst Respawn's current staff is a collection of men and women that have largely influenced the modern shooter to date. Modern Warfare as a franchise has been one of the largest steps forward in FPS gaming since the creation of the World War II shooter. It was a chance for gamers to gain a bit of appreciation for the technological advancements in human slaying that current day combat provides. That being said, the list of games that have attempted to ride the wave of Infinity Ward's success goes on for quite a while.
Only recently have developers started to look away from accurate current-day scenarios, but the damage has already been done and Respawn's first new title is proof enough. Though there's absolutely no information on the nature of the game itself, EA has already revealed that Respawn is currently working hard on a sci-fi shooter while other development teams are focusing their attention on the modern theatre of operations. Perhaps a strategic move on EA's part when it comes to covering their bases in content, but it also serves a purpose for Respawn as well; sci-fi titles, when done well, can compete against a modern war shooter just about any time of the year. Games like Halo and Gears of War are really only comparable to themselves, and often times aren't even considered in franchise wars that titles like Homefront, Battlefield, Medal of Honor and CoD work themselves into. For Respawn, it means being able to create a product without the shadow of a past series hanging over their heads.
For Activision, it means not having to worry about two men who could have potentially taken away an extremely loyal fanbase from them. That of course isn't to say that whatever Respawn have may not change the face of gaming, but rather that most gamers (console primarily) see the FPS genre as staggered into two different categories. Most sci-fi games up until this point have given quite a bit of focus on cultivating not just a unique single-player experience, but also captivating co-op and memorable multiplayer moments. Halo has generated an experience that has, despite criticism over its simplified controls and low learning curve, maintained a unique experience over the years, yet sales has never been seen as a direct competitor against any modern shooter. This sort of leniency suggests that most fans like to have their cake and eat it too, despite whatever courtroom rivalry is happening behind the scenes between Activision and the former Infinity Ward employees. Both sides of the fence should be happy to not be directly competing against one another.
In fact, the only thing that would possibly force these two titles to compete against each other is if Respawn's new title is effectively Modern Warfare in space, which would draw some pretty heavy (and rightfully deserved) criticism in and of itself. Having no good reason to pit themselves directly against their own old merchandise, and with Activision absolutely convinced that it can milk Call of Duty till the end of time, it's highly unlikely that we'll see a head-to-head match between the two companies anytime soon.
It will be pretty exciting to see how well Respawn's new title does against the likes of Halo and Gears, particularly considering this is all part of EA's plan. There hasn't been a terrible amount of competition in the sci-fi games front, and even still most of them take care to distinguish themselves as either single player storyline focused or multiplayer co-op based, such as EA's own Mass Effect. Knowing full well that the publisher is looking to target the multiplayer scene I'll be surprised to find out if Respawn took an approach more akin to Deus Ex, but no matter which way you look at the big picture, it's hard to see any real threat to Activision here. Perhaps that's for the better, less focus on a personal business vendetta and more focus on the overall quality of the title they're producing will make everyone happier in the long run.