Activision Blizzard’s public relations machine could learn a lesson or two from the structure and habits born from military discipline. Timing after all is key, whether it’s in a dangerous operation or controlling the flow of information. The video game publisher let it be known that it would offer details on the next installment of its uber-popular Call of Duty series on May 1 in a big online reveal. The U.S. announcement has yet to take place, but the United Kingdom website for the game went live in the wee hours of the morning confirming once and for all that Call of Duty: Black Ops II is on the way this Novemberov..
Having plundered the past for nearly every major conflict involving the U.S. military—Call of Duty has visited World War II, the Vietnam War, and fictional present day conflicts in non-existant Middle Eastern nations and very real Central Asian nations—Black Ops II will move into the near future, a dramatic shift from the 1960s setting of its predecessor. This near future setting will see the world embroiled in a new cold war.
The original Call of Duty: Black Ops broke the Infinity Ward-Treyarch cycle of quality in the Call of Duty series. Following the 2005 Infinity Ward-made Call of Duty 2, Activision Blizzard has had the two studios alternate each year with a new game, but Treyarch’s early entries, including 2006’s Call of Duty 3 and 2008’s Call of Duty: World at War, were considered both critical disappointments. They were also seen as commercial let downs as Infinity Ward’s entries, particularly 2007’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, saw sales surge over past entries. Treyarch’s 2010 Call of Duty: Black Ops though shattered that trend, garnering more positive reviews than 2009’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and selling more than 23 million copies during its first twelve months on shelves. The NPD research group that tracks video game sales in the United States named Black Ops the best-selling video game of all time in March 2011, selling 13.7 million copies in just three months.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II will bring more than just new multiplayer maps and a campaign to millions of slavering gun junkies. Activision has promised that the game’s Nov. 13 release date will be accompanied by a major update to the Call of Duty Elite subscription service called Call of Duty Elite 2.0. Call of Duty Elite is still criticized for failing to meet expectations of the subscription service, but it still enjoys a membership of more than 40 million active users, 10 million of which continue to play the original Call of Duty: Black Ops.
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