Interview: The Future of Call of Duty, By a COD Creator
Nothing is more important to Call of Duty than its community – the players that support and (in some cases) live for the thrill of the game year in, year out. For several years, Call of Duty’s ecosystem has been the home of an ever-developing content creation space, whether that be across COD Mobile, Call of Duty’s traditional multiplayer platform, or on Warzone, the series’ iconic battle royale title that was released in 2020.
Typically, these content creators know everything about the franchise, down to its core fibres. They understand the mechanics, know what’s coming next, and take the biggest hit when the developers make a ‘wrong decision’. During London’s annual EGX event, I caught up with one of these creators – Greg ‘Shrubby13’ Shrubb, who has been crafting Call of Duty content for more than a decade – and who still loves the game today.
As we spoke, I learned about his impressions of Modern Warfare 3, his desires for the future of Call of Duty, and his idea of the ‘perfect’ COD game.
‘It’s Everything Everyone Loved’
I was eager to get Shrubb’s thoughts on the state of Modern Warfare 3, given that he’d spent a few days wrapped up in the beta that recently went live.
Shrubby13: ‘Movement is good, the weapons are fantastic, the maps that have gone back to old-school COD, they’re fantastic. Basically, the game is everything everyone loved but fresh and a bit newer. There are new things that keep it feeling refreshed but it also has that old-school COD feel, and going into Warzone, it’s going to be great – they’ve got Rebirth coming back, Fortune’s Keep is coming back – and that movement, and the weapons…’
Everything that I’ve heard about Modern Warfare 3 – and seen for myself in the beta – is impressive. It plays well, it looks great, and revisiting the maps of the greatest Call of Duty game of all time is the chef’s kiss in this scenario. However, I’m of the idea that there’s ‘too much’ packed into this year’s Call of Duty game – a campaign, a new Warzone instance, a Zombies mode, and the multiplayer platform. I asked Shrubb about this.
Shrubby13: ‘I think it’s time to get rid of the Call of Duty campaign. Even though there’s the nostalgia that makes you want to play it, it’s just not worth it. They could put more time and resources into the game modes that are really, really popular. Like multiplayer – that’s a staple now, that has to stay — and Warzone. It’s like a main focus.’
Controversial comments, indeed.
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‘I Think We Moved Away From Multiplayer’
For the last decade or so, Greg ‘Shrubby13’ Shrubb has split his content creation time between the likes of FIFA and Call of Duty, but the latter franchise has always remained his biggest draw. Most recently, he has found success in crafting content that’s focused specifically on Call of Duty’s ‘DMZ’ mode, which isn’t going anywhere when Modern Warfare 3 is released, but it won’t necessarily see much support, either.
On that note, I asked him about COD’s content creation scene, trying to get an inside glimpse at the state of play.
Shrubby13: ‘DMZ made content creation fun again because there’s lots you can do with a mode like that. Multiplayer – I don’t think that’s any good for content creation anymore. I think we moved away from multiplayer. That’s normally like… The peak viewers are in the first month and then it all drops off. When Warzone drops, that’s going to bring everyone back. The movement alone will bring creators back and how the map looks will bring everyone else back.’
He continued, touching on the impact that Warzone has had on Call of Duty’s ecosystem:
Shrubby13: ‘It was only multiplayer — that was the focus for Call of Duty. When Warzone came out, multiplayer died a bit, in my opinion. It still thrives in its aspect but it’s almost not the main focus for Call of Duty anymore.’
I was eager to learn what Shrubb wanted from the future of Call of Duty. He revealed that he has been playing COD games for more than fifteen years, so he knows a thing or two about what hits when it comes to Call of Duty.
Shrubby13: ‘Black Ops 1.’
Is that it, just that game?
Shrubby13: ‘It’s just the best multiplayer game ever. I mean, you could probably introduce today’s movement to Black Ops, but peak Call of Duty for me was that game. I know Black Ops II was more for the ‘competitive people’ – they loved that – but Black Ops had the best multiplayer. I’d want a handful of new maps and old maps – because why try and fix what’s not broken? The old maps were unreal – everyone played them.’
I asked if he wanted a ‘jetpack COD’ next year, or the year after.
Shrubby13: ‘They tried jetpacks, I think nobody really liked it. Even though people say Advanced Warfare was good – and I was good at it – I just didn’t like it. I think of this — why not just make it all one game and keep updating it? I mean, even if you pay a yearly subscription and they make money from skins. Just get the best developers to work on the section that they’ve done the best with and keep it going, like Warzone or Fortnite.’
‘That’s When It Went Downhill’
Edging into the esports side of the discussion, I engaged Shrubb, talking about the Call of Duty League. In particular, I was curious to know if a lifelong Call of Duty fan rated the series’ esports scene, and if not, why.
Shrubby13: ‘It’s just not the same anymore. If they would have done more Warzone tournaments — I watched those. Warzone tournaments are great, fun exciting – multiplayer gets too repetitive and I don’t know, I guess I’m just not interested in that mode anymore. I’ve lost interest in it. Plus, when they changed it to the CDL format, that’s when it went downhill. I’m more likely going to put on a pro Warzone player and watch them or tune into the World Series of Warzone, or something like that.’
With all this talk of finality and things going downhill, I made my last question to Greg ‘Shrubby13’ Shrubb an important one. Put simply, does he believe that Call of Duty will ever ‘end’? Will there ever be that last-ever COD game?
Shrubby13: ‘I think COD goes on forever. But, as this year shows, they’ve not really got anything left to do. It peaked, it’s on a downward spiral, and if they don’t do what the community is asking to, then COD is finished, but people will always buy it. They might try and bring out new modes, new battle royales, extraction shooters, or whatever the next big thing is, but I don’t know if it’ll be successful or not. I don’t think we’re in a transition period yet where making totally new stuff is going to work. You need to get rid of the old and phase it out, which will probably be in ten or fifteen years. Then, who knows?’
As I wrapped up my conversation with Shrubb, I got the sense that he was somewhat disappointed with Activision seemingly ceasing all development of the DMZ mode going forward. It has become his bread and butter, but he has high expectations for the next iteration of COD Zombies, which should plug that gap quite nicely. In the meantime, he’ll be sharpening up on Modern Warfare 3 and getting ready for whatever comes next in Warzone.
As will we all.
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