Looking back at it now Activision has certainly come a long way from their old game plan of charging out five to six versions of a single game in a year. Now they're more about the yearly releases and DLC support in between, with several franchises seeing fairly predictable releases depending on what's happening in the rest of the entertainment industry. A new Spider-Man movie coming out? Expect a game just around the corner. Kids show recently create a big budget movie? Get ready for Activision to have a hand in its video game tie-in. It's a predictable system, but it works, and it's far better than literally churning out enough games to kill a genre.
So why the small list of games? Well for starters Activision hasn't announced all that much, but on the same page they just recently lost the rights to Marvel as Disney tries to pull everything under a single roof. That's a pretty huge chunk of the Activision pie that's just been taken away, and we'll have to see what plan they have to fill the gap. Blizzard is also a large part of Activision's profit margin as the two are technically the same company which means that while this list may seem a little underwhelming it's only half of the joint-company's greater plan.
The Skylanders franchise is the perfect melding of absolute evil. It's a well designed platform game franchise that also works hand in hand with an expansive high quality toy line; using each toy to bring characters within in the game to life like you're out of some strange 90s saturday morning action cartoon. What child would ever be able to resist that? What parent could ever hope to avoid the financial black hole that is the endless Skylanders toy line?
All three entries in the franchise have been met with some pretty high critical acclaim, so it was no surprise when Activision announced another title would be hitting shelves sometime this year. Being that each toy has been backwards compatible with every new game it'll be important to see what Vicarious Visions has in store for us. It will be great to see if VV can develop mechanics that are as engaging as Swap Force in addition to new toys that are as interactable as the current line. It's no small task given that they've already set the bar for making the most out of action figures, but if they're up to the task it could mean a tight squeeze on competitor Disney Infinity.
As Bungie's first major launch since its step away from Microsoft everyone is expecting Destiny to be something huge, and rightfully so. Outside of being an FPS Destiny takes elements of just about every genre and blends it up into a single product that's hoping to hit big. So big that we know Activision has already locked the developer into a four game cycle, with Destiny as the first in what's supposed to be a sprawling romp across a living sci-fi universe; something Bungie is pretty familiar with.
Customizable characters, open world design, unique NPC encounters, and co-op oriented gameplay all reek of the traditional MMO elements but where Destiny starts to slip away from the norm is how it handles its world overall. Encounters are supposed to be randomly generated, but in a way that is not controllable or planned by the development team. Matchmaking will let players of similar skill encounter one another in game, but to what effect that will have on scaled difficulty or world events we're really yet to know. Not only that but there's a question of weapons and transportation which have only been lightly skimmed on.
The only thing we really have to compared Destiny to is Borderlands, and considering what a ridiculously good series Borderlands has turned out to be we're ok with that parallel. Given that this is the first step in a brand new franchise for Activision (and Bungie's first move as a multiplatform company) expect a lot of buzz for the game leading up to its September 9th launch.
Call of Duty - Treyarch Edition
So another year means another Call of Duty, a trend that probably won't stop as long as the franchise continues to rake in millions of dollars. Since Infinity Ward was just up to bat it's now down to Treyarch to continue onward with its vision of the CoD universe, which really just means one of two things. Either we get Black Ops 3, or we get something new and different. Or there's a third mystery option of a brand new CoD developer entering the fray but that's almost too mind blowing to consider.
It would be great to see Treyarch take the CoD franchise into a new and wildly different direction, coupled with a multiplayer that starts to really play with level design and game modes while still holding onto the core elements that keep the game legitimate on the e-sports circuit. Low gravity levels? More environmental interaction? Giant robots? Lots of really small robots that swam over other players? Anything is possible when you let imagination be your guide, but even tossing the more unreasonable ideas aside there's still room for the franchise to grow.
In the meantime they've already played with futuristic weaponry, AI drones and having Trent Reznor do the soundtrack, so we'll just have to wait and see where things go from here.
Amazing Spider-Man 2
With the movie showing up sometime this year the game has to be close behind and fortunately for all of us Spidey has had a pretty decent track record when it comes to his franchise related tie-ins. Much of the gameplay is supposed to harken back to the original Spider-Man 2, which still remains to be a high point of nostalgia for anyone that enjoyed touring Manhattan from Parker's unique view.
This time around players will also have to contend with a morality system that will openly judge players for not pausing to stop crime, a feature that already seems somewhat unusual as most superheroes live for that sort of stuff. Either way we look forward to seeing whether or not the Amazing counterpart can live up to the nostalgic hype of the original that every single Spider-Man game ever has been compared against.