April 30, 2013 at 3:26 PM ET
With the "Modern Warfare" saga laid to rest, Activision has begun to tease out details about its next "Call of Duty" game. But the 800 pound gorilla of first-person shooter video games could be in for a rude awakening from some of "Call of Duty's" original creators.
This morning, Activision launched a teaser page hinting at the official unveiling of its highly anticipated new "Call of Duty" game, which is widely assumed to be named something like "Call of Duty: Ghosts." Ever since the single-player story came to an explosive close in 2011 fans and industry analysts alike have been waiting with bated breath to see what Activision and "Modern Warfare" developer Infinity Ward would come up with as its next bi-annual "Call of Duty" game to complement the leapfrogging releases of Treyarch's "Black Ops" series, after all. And if the wraith-like image of a skull shrouded in mystery and thousands of user-generated images that Activision pulled from visitors' social network profiles are any indication, "Ghost" is probably a pretty accurate description.
But the most commercially successful video game franchise in the industry's history may be facing a new mammoth challenger this time around. Respawn Entertainment, a game studio that was formed by Jason West and Vince Zampella — two of "Call of Duty's" first developers who left Infinity Ward after an ugly public spat with their former employer — has been working with chief Activision rival Electronic Arts (EA) on a shooter of their own.
According to a report from the video game site Kotaku this week, Respawn and EA's highly anticipated "Titan" project is going to be a multiplayer-focused shooter exclusive to Microsoft's current and next-generation Xbox consoles. That means everything from appearing only on Xbox consoles to reportedly participating in Microsoft's controversial "always-online" requirements.
Both companies are remaining silent about "Titan" for the moment, with Respawn even responding to the speculation on Twitter by telling fans that they'll "have to wait for E3 for details."
If the game is indeed an Xbox exclusive, however, it would be a real slap in the face for Activision Blizzard. Even the name "Titan" sounds like a jab at Blizzard's heavily rumored massive multiplayer online (MMO) game that's also gone by the moniker "Titan." And the company recently unveiled a multiplayer-centric online shooter of its own with "Destiny," a new game it's producing alongside "Halo" creator Bunjie.
"Destiny" was revealed to be a PlayStation 4 launch title at Sony's unveiling of its upcoming next-generation console. That doesn't rule out "Destiny" or any other Activision game appearing on the new Xbox console — Eric Hirschberg, the president and CEO of Activision Publishing, made sure to say that his company would "support the PlayStation 4," not the other way around. Being available on more platforms is by no means a bad thing, but it gives Activision more work to do in trying to maintain its prominence atop the first-person shooter food chain. After all, Sony is still recuperating from its disastrous PlayStation Network hack, a massive security breach that made Microsoft's pricier alternative with the Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) seem much more attractive to many multiplayer gamers wary of putting their personal and financial information into a vulnerable network.
If there is any company (or franchise) powerful enough to rise above the console wars, it's probably Activision. But Microsoft became something of a market leader — particularly in the U.S. — over the last console generation. Currying the favor of Microsoft with an exclusive deal could only help a prospective "Call of Duty" rival, which is exactly what EA has been trying to create with its "Battlefield" and "Medal of Honor" games for years now. Beating out "Call of Duty's" titanic sales may seem like an impossible task, but luring legions of Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) players away from "Black Ops 2" and "Call of Duty: Ghost" is certainly the best place to start.