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Activision/Treyarch garners $550 million from Call of Duty Black Ops III release

Call of Duty has been a staple of video gaming for a decade now, and though the franchise has been developed by multiple studios with various subsets it always pushes out a consistent, quality product.

That trend is continuing with Call of Duty: Black Ops III — the fourth installment of the series following the story arch of Call of Duty World At War, Black Ops I, and Black Ops II.

The game is not only a week old, but according to reports by Activision the game had sold $550 million copies worth within just three days of its November 6 launch.

It is currently the most successful launch of a media this year whether it be games, movies, or anything else.

The game competes with the same success that Black Ops II had in 2012 when it took in $500 million in just one day.

“Call of Duty is more than a game, it’s a year round passion for a growing base of millions of fans and it’s only gaining momentum.” – Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing

The bread and butter of the franchise has been the multiplayer ever since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and there was no reason to expect anything but a massive success in that department. Activision reports “more than 75 million hours” have been spent online through the first three days.

Also of note, Black Ops III’s digital sales set a record for Activision with downloads on new generation consoles up 100% from last year. Digital gaming is continuing to rise in all facets of the gaming industry.

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What makes a game great?

The line between an art and a science is a bit weird with video games. In an odd way the industry meshes the two together so intrinsically the games we get from the process ends up with some of the most incredible pieces of work that any medium could produce. Typically we think of coders hard at work, but then there’s also the artists who deliberate constantly on the design of every fine detail. Then there’s those who work the story; creating a tale of adventure, action, love, death, and almost everything else.

But how do we get there? Triple-A titles establish mass collaborations putting so many minds together that so much wide-spread thought is put in to making the most successful game possible.

However, indie games are a bit different. These small tight nit teams are reminiscent of the classic studios behind the vast majority of games before the 2000s. Some aren’t even teams. Lone developers handle everything to make a game that — while less visually impressive that the triple-A games — plays amazingly. For all these creative and skilled developers only a few seem to make it out and really hit it big.

Indie teams and triple-A developers can both offer great games — albeit very different types of games.

For these indie teams each developer have something special that triple-A titles simply can’t match — personability. Top indie games like Braid, FEZ, The Binding of Isaac, Don’t Starve, and many more all share common ground in that they’re made by small teams but the quality of each of these games is astonishing when you look at some of the massive disappointments that the major developers and publisher roll out. The biggest key for these games to become successful is the devs making the game they simply want to make. They have no one to answer to but themselves — and for many that’s often the harshest critic. In turn, the amount of attention to detail and care that these basement-dwelling geniuses can input into their creative process is simply incredible.

Everything is followed closely and with developers working alone or in small groups, the envisioning of a project can change as they make the game. This is what makes indie development special. This is what can lead to great outside-the-box games like FEZ or Braid.

But one of the most critical factors that almost all popular indie games and popular triple-A games is the focus on a character; a primary protagonist for players to follow and observe or manipulate the story of.

Iconic characters are crucial to long-term success.

Mario and Luigi are one of the greatest duos ever serving as an icon for the Nintendo brand since the 80s.
Mario and Luigi are one of the greatest duos ever serving as an icon for the Nintendo brand since the 80s.

The idea of having a stand out character has long been a crucial part of game success. Since the early 1980s Nintendo has led the industry with its collection of iconic characters like Link, Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong, Samus, and many more. Every one of these characters has been the star to incredible stories and flourishing franchises that has helped shape the entire gaming industry. Today, the best stories come from those that can incite an emotional level of caring from the player towards the character.

An iconic character alone doesn’t bode too well though. Next comes the quality that most people impart their highest level of standards — gameplay. Most triple-A developers have this down to a science of following successful formulas and trends to create the highest-selling game they can. Franchises like Call of Duty, Halo, Grand Theft Auto, all sports-related franchises, and many others have games that are realistic or have high graphical fidelity.

Another quality that these top games all have that is also broken down into a repetitive formula by the triple-A devs is ‘challenge.’ The balance between hard and easy is one of the most critical design aspects that any dev must deal with. Some push the envelope in both directions with games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne being prime modern examples of this as the game teeters a careful edge between frustrating gameplay and challenging but rewarding gameplay. Many mobile developers trend the opposite way offering mindless games to kill time and not take very seriously. While these devs have success they are still the outliers as most need to find the perfect middle ground where a challenge is faced, a reward is given, and progress is felt to be made.

Challenge must be met with a sense of accomplishment and success.

Bioshock Infinite has one of the greatest stories in all of gaming.
Bioshock Infinite has one of the greatest stories in all of gaming.

But for truly popular games the most popular aspect always comes back to a story. Even in multiplayer games like Call of Duty or Halo, setting the environment, narrative, and mood of the world bleeds over into how players can approach the online experience that is quickly gaining more traction than the standard campaigns or single players that used to be the keystone of everything in a great game; not to say a story is important anymore though. It’s simply that players enjoy having an experience to be shared with friends. However, the prevalence of a game story/lore will always be important in the creation of a franchise. Giving players the opportunity to get attached and captivated by the world they explore helps the game expand beyond just a fun game and grow into a universe to be immersed in.

So there’s clearly so many ways to approach making a game, but there is a systematic approach to the creation of art. Sometimes boundaries can be bent or even broken with success, but from almost the entire history of the video game industry the the same trends have been followed among the greatest games to ever release. And it’s clear that even if you aren’t part of a triple-A team you can still make a game that’s just as enjoyable to play.

Though it’s important to keep in mind — this industry is only 30 (perhaps 40 depending on your view) years old. It’s very young in this world of video games, and maybe a developer will find a way to successfully break one of these “rules” to make a great game that stands out and breaks the confines of what is expected of a prototypical video game.

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New Xbox One bundles announced | White console with Sunset Overdrive; 1 TB console with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

The white Xbox One -- available with Sunset Overdrive later this year.
The white Xbox One — available with Sunset Overdrive later this year.

Microsoft diversifies console options with new bundles and more style varieties.

  • Sunset Overdrive – The rumor has been confirmed — a white Xbox One console will be coming later this year and will include Sunset Overdrive for $399 (No kinect).
  • Fifa 15 – Microsoft has struggled with markets outside the U.S. but a new Fifa bundle should help them gain some ground in the EU. The bundle will retail for €399 and will include a digital Fifa 15.
  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – A 1 TB Call of Duty bundle will include a custom design console and controller, as well as a digital copy of Advanced Warfare – Day 0 edition.

  • Madden 15 – It was announced before Gamescom, but it’s still two weeks until it will be released. A Madden 15 $399 bundle will be available the same day as Madden 15’s release — August 26th.

None of the bundles listed here will include the kinect, but Microsoft will be selling a standalone Kinect just in time for the holiday season.

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Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare multiplayer trailer revealed

Speed is clearly a big focus on the next Call of Duty's multiplayer.
Speed is clearly a big focus on the next Call of Duty’s multiplayer.


That’s the best word to describe Advanced Warfare’s multiplayer. With the futuristic setting giving more flex in regards to creative design, the gameplay itself is somewhat reminiscent of Titanfall with regards to the speed of movement and different approaches players can take advantage of to flank their opponent.

Perks and powerups like invisibility and a heat-vision-esque enemy tracker are just some of the new additions to keep the action fresh, and along with customizable characters and dynamic environments that change as you go, this is certainly the most significant amount of changes that the Call of Duty franchise has undergone since the release of Modern Warfare.

Sledgehammer Games’ Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare will be releasing November 4th for Xbox One, Xbox 360, Playstation 4, Playstation 3, and PC.

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Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Atlas Pro and Atlas Limited edition revealed

Two special editions of the upcoming installment in the Call of Duty franchise have been revealed. The $79.99 Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Atlas Limited Edition will give fans a combination of both digital and tangible bonuses.

What’s included:

  • A re-envisioned Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare map (Pipeline)
  • The Atlas: Advanced Soldier Manual. The manual features both concept art, game history, and tactical strategies players may utilize in-game.
  • The Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare soundtrack.
  • A steel game-case with “premium in-game artwork.”

Digital add-ons:

  • Two additional weapons (Bal-27 AE Assault Rifle and the Atlas 45 AE Pistol) available for use in multiplayer.
  • A custom character skin — dubbed the “Atlas Exoskelton.”
  • Custom in-game helmet to use.
  • An Atlas player card showcased to your victims in the multiplayer kill-cam.
  • Five supply-drops to outfit players with additional multiplayer weapons and upgrades.
  • An Exoskeleton Upgrade Token: (“Over the course of Campaign mode, players unlock exoskeleton perks and abilities that help tackle various obstacles and challenges.”)

The “complete package,” $119.99 Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Atlas Pro Edition will give fans everything above as well as the Advanced Warfare season pass.