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Call of Duty franchise has 'never been stronger', claims Activision exec

Publisher talks up "gorgeous, emotional" story in upcoming sequel

The Call of Duty franchise has "never been stronger" and anticipation for Infinity Ward's Call of Duty: Ghosts is "high", according to Activision publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg.

Speaking via an interview with IGN Hirshberg indicated that the publisher's lucrative first-person shooter franchise is at the height of its popularity.

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He said: "At this moment in time, we have more people playing every month, more people logging on to play every day, a better digital business with people playing longer into the cycle of each product and purchasing more DLC and purchasing micro-DLC and purchasing season passes.

"Those are all the hard measures. How is the content we're making selling? Are people enjoying it? That seems to be going well. Then you look at the softer measures, just in terms of social media engagement and video views. Anticipation is high for Ghosts. When you're building off such a strong foundation of engaged players, that's usually a pretty good sign."

Hirshberg said Activision intends to carry forward the popularity of the series with its next entry, which will introduce numerous new features.

He added: "At the end of the day, it all comes down to us making another great game," he said. "That's why we set the stage for greatness with Ghosts by wiping the slate clean creatively, not doing another Modern Warfare game with Infinity Ward, allowing them to create an entirely new narrative and cast of characters. We've changed to a world where America is not the dominant force, but an underdog.

"That opened up new visual opportunities. It opened up new gameplay opportunities. We're shaking things up. Multiplayer is going to have new ideas. Dynamic maps are something we're doing. Character customization is something we're doing.

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"The story mode is going to be...I don't know if you've seen what we [showed at E3], but it's gorgeous. It's emotional. It's got a different kind of tonality and feeling to it. It all comes down to us making a great game every time out, and I'm confident that we are going to deliver something special with Ghosts."

Offering his view on games as a medium for storytelling, Hirshberg said he feels games still "have a long way to go", but claimed that partnering with Hollywood talent such as Traffic writer Stephen Gaghan, who has written the script for Ghosts, is a step forward for the series.

"We're reaching a point of maturity as an industry where a lot of the top Hollywood talent are gamers," he said. "They grew up playing games, the same way we did. They have a natural interest in it just as consumers.

"The other thing is that people look at where the entertainment audience is migrating and where people are spending the majority of their time and money. It's an exciting industry to be involved in from that standpoint as well.

"The creative process always starts with that - what would be a fun thing to do? But the level of immersion and the level of connection you can have with the characters, the level of interest we can generate in the storylines, I think can always be improved. I think Steve Gaghan, so far he's knocking it out of the park for us."

Activision has confirmed a Call of Duty: Ghosts release date of November 5 on Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

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