Activision explains how Call of Duty won’t become another Guitar Hero

Guitar Hero may be not so dead and buried but publisher Activision is confident that its other franchise, Call of Duty, will never suffer the same fate.

A leaked note from CEO Eric Hirschberg explains why the franchise has more staying power than the music genre. It reads: “There are several key differences between the two franchises worth considering. Guitar Hero quickly reached incredible heights, but then began a steady decline. Call of Duty, on the other hand, has steadily grown every single year of its seven-year existence.”

Guitar Hero was a new genre which had incredible appeal, but which had not stood the test of time. Call of Duty exists in a genre – first person shooters – that has shown remarkable staying power and wide appeal over a period of decades. Plus, Call of Duty has inspired a massive, persistent, online community of players, making it perhaps the ‘stickiest’ game of all time.”

We’re not entirely convinced ourselves. It’s true that year-on-year CoD sales have been growing, but almost all products have a growth and decline cycles. When we think about it, few IPs really do have that staying power, and most that do rest under Nintendo’s household.

“If you really step back and dispassionately look at any measurement – sales, player engagement, hours of online play, performance of DLC – you can absolutely conclude that the potential for this franchise has never been greater,” Hirschberg continued. “In order to achieve this potential, we need to focus: on making games that constantly raise the quality bar; on staying ahead of the innovation curve; on surrounding the brand with a suite of services and an online community that makes our fans never want to leave.

“Entertainment franchises with staying power are rare. But Call of Duty shows all of the signs of being able to be one of them. It’s up to us.”

The publisher has kept a quiet on this year’s entry for a little longer than we’re used to. Perhaps a big change really is in store for the series in 2011.