Activision and Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare 2 not only dropped the the Call of Duty moniker, but a sizable chunk of brand recognition, tracking firm OTX tells Gamasutra.
Consumer awareness levels for the highly-anticipated military mega-sequel dropped 20 percentage points since Activision revealed the official name of the game would ditch the Call of Duty brand, according to Nick Williams, who runs the GamePlan Insights division for OTX.
"Up until the beginning of May, OTX had been tracking the title as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. More specifically, we asked a representative group of gamers in the U.S. whether or not they had heard of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. At that time, approximately 40 percent of all gamers in the U.S. claimed that they had heard of this title."
He continued, "However, once it became clear that Activision was positioning the title as Modern Warfare 2, OTX removed 'Call of Duty' from the consumer survey, and the awareness levels dropped to 20 percent. In other words, the Call of Duty brand association essentially doubles the awareness for the game. That is quite a remarkable statistic."
Following the industry extravaganza E3 in early June, OTX found that consumers' purchase intent for Modern Warfare 2 ranked high on the research firm's top 50 most anticipated games list, but still behind games including Bungie's Halo 3: ODST, Nintendo's New Super Mario Bros., Sony's God of War 3, Square Enix's Final Fantasy XIII and Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed 2.
But Williams by no means intends to paint a gloomy picture of the commercial prospects for Modern Warfare 2, which Activision plans on backing later this year with massive marketing efforts.
"Despite this dramatic drop in awareness, the purchase intent for Modern Warfare 2 remains very strong," said Williams. Purchase intent still ranks about four times above average. "In our latest charts based on the last four weeks of data, Modern Warfare 2 for the Xbox 360 ranks as the sixth most anticipated title."
He said that even without the "Call of Duty" brand attached to Infinity Ward's upcoming shooter, the Modern Warfare brand has "a passionate following of its own."
Williams added, "The intensity of the purchase intent is particularly impressive, as illustrated by the high levels of Pre-Order Intent, which is the highest of any title currently being tracked. ... Even without the Call of Duty association, it is still perceived as a must have title."