No matter which way you look at it, Activision’s decision to release Modern Warfare Remastered alongside Infinite Warfare is a mistake. Bundling them together does make sense from a sales perspective, even if it is a bit rough on fans. So while Activision is likely to see some extra sales there are several inherent problems.
Split player base
Call of Duty lives and dies by its multiplayer. There’s always a campaign component, but with each iteration, it’s abundantly clear that the majority of players either jump straight into multiplayer or give up on the campaign before they finish. Based on Steam Achievements, Modern Warfare 3 was the most completed single player Call of Duty campaign in recent years. 54.9% of players on Steam had unlocked the Achievement for finishing the campaign. Compare that with last year’s Black Ops 3 at only 9.2% and Advanced Warfare’s 40% and you can see that there are a lot of players looking only at multiplayer.
With two Call of Duty titles there are two campaigns and two multiplayer components. Granted, Modern Warfare Remastered is a campaign and multipler mode we’ve seen before, but when has that ever stopped people from playing before? Some fans are going to jump right into Modern Warfare and other into Infinite Warfare. There’s going to be a fractured player base and it’s going to affect the experience. Worse still, only 10 of Modern Warfare Remastered’s 16 multiplayer maps will be available at launch. When the remaining maps are made available, the community will be split again.
There’s only so many hours in the day and while there will undoubtedly be exceptions, many players will likely choose one over the other.
Coming off second best
Either Modern Warfare Remastered or Infinite Warfare is going to come off second-best when they’re released. By that I mean, one of the titles is going to to make the other look like a dog; and vice-versa. And it’s not necessarily Modern Warfare that’s going to be considered runner-up. Call of Duty 4 is top tier Call of Duty, a franchise that has, since Ghosts, been struggling to remain relevant. Black Ops 3 went some way towards rehabilitating the franchise and Kevin Spacey did his best to sell Advanced Warfare, but not since CoD4 has it felt like a complete package.
Infinite Warfare continues CoD’s slow march into the unknown. Gone are the days of historical combat and stories of young men shipped off to foreign lands for a fight the don’t understand. Call of Duty has become, and is, all about the spectacle. When the throttle is only ever in the red, there’s no where left to go but back down. Modern Warfare is punctuated with quiet moments and an occasional somber tone.
The character’s — while Machiavellian by the close — seem real enough, human even. Infinite Warfare stars Connor McGregor and Jon Snow. They probably guarantee sales, but they also provide a distraction. As does the zero-gravity and future setting. The franchise is so far from its roots that Modern Warfare is a refreshing break from the relentless Michael Bay of it all.
On the other hand, Infinite Warfare is guaranteed to be an incredibly polished, expertly crafted modern FPS. Modern Warfare is, and will likely seem rather dated by comparison. A lick of paint and a 1080p resolution can’t hide the flaws of a game made a decade ago. Idiotic AI, confusing mission objectives, monster closets and tight, tiny environments clearly mark Modern Warfare as a game from the last-generation. Some fans may look at it and laugh, especially those who never played it the first time around. No matter which way you slice it, one of this year’s Call of Duty titles is going to make the other one look bad.
It’s a mistake to launch these titles together and it’s a mistake to force players to buy Infinite Warfare to get their hands on the Remaster. One upside is the price, as players only need to buy one game to get two, but it’s still not a good look. There’s not room for two new Call of Duty titles at the end of this year. Especially when Titanfall 2, Battlefield 1, Dishonored 2, Skyrim and Watch_Dogs 2 are all just around the corner.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Modern Warfare Remastered will be available for PC, PS4 and Xbox One from November 4, 2016.