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Survey:  Modern Warfare 2  Loses Brand Awareness Without ' Call of Duty '
Survey: Modern Warfare 2 Loses Brand Awareness Without 'Call of Duty'
June 24, 2009 | By Kris Graft

June 24, 2009 | By Kris Graft
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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."


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Comments


Christian Kulenkampff
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well, when i first heard of "modern warfare 2", exactly what OTX says happened. I did not realize that Modern Warfare 2 is in connection to the "Call of Duty" series... I think brands/names are very important. They help people to identify things...

Kirk Battle
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They can call it "Alpine Adventure 4" for all it matters to people familiar with the franchise. It's still Call of Duty 6.

Tom Newman
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Once the game comes out it won't make any difference. I'd place a safe Vegas bet on that.

Chris Remo
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Tim,



That is clearly the case, but the point here is that the way most gamers know that the content inside the game is going to contain the positive elements of the content inside another game they liked is by the name on the front of the box.



I suspect, given their statements on the matter, Activision will do an extremely heavy marketing campaign to ensure people realize this is a direct successor to Infinity Ward's last game.

Yannick Boucher
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I don't know, I still don't see any actual benefits to dropping CoD... unless of course, Kotick is hard up on adding one more "top selling franchise" line in Activision's next annual report.... ;-)

Paul Lazenby
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@ Yannick:

I doubt this has anything to do with Activision. I'll bet this has to do with the ongoing feud between Treyarch and IW. Even though Treyarch has licensed IW's engine and uses the COD name, IW seems to repeatedly indicate they're not happy with them.

Plus, with it matter that there is no COD name if they blitz the internet and TV with Ads? Probably not.

Chris Remo
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Yannick,



That's probably part of it. Part of it is probably that Infinity Ward doesn't want to continue holding just one half of the responsibility for a franchise. After renegotiating their contract, I suspect they got some more leeway in terms of what they can count as "their" franchise.

steve roger
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Whatever the reason, the name change is stupid. How can you call it Modern Warfare 2 if there was no number one Modern Warfare. Yes, I know it was COD MW, but now we are pretending that COD doesn't exist in reference to MW. Therefore, it can't be MW 2 it has to be just plain old MW.



The whole name thing with COD has been confusing since the break from Medal of Honor. It reached it's confusing moniker with Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare when Call of Duty World at War came out. What was CODWW numbered? Was is it COD 4 or COD 5? Or was it COD 4A and COD 4B?



Will there be World at War 2. Now that will be confusing. Imagine the next Call of Duty World at War game after they drop the COD part. It will be WWII. Now that is coming full circle.

Arun Bapu
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My guess is that, since the modern theme of COD4 was wildly successful, Activision made a clever business decision to make MW2 and COD as 2 independent franchises so that they can have sequels with yearly releases on both simultaneously. So now you have 2 games coming out of Activision every year instead of only 1 and more revenues for them !! You can't do that if the COD name is attached to it.

Bob Stevens
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That wouldn't be a very clever business decision as the two games have the same audience and would eat one another's sales.

steve roger
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@Arun Bapu "So now you have 2 games coming out of Activision every year instead of only 1 and more revenues for them !! You can't do that if the COD name is attached to it."



How is this a clever Activision business decision. This was already done with COD MW and COD WW. Albeit they were made by different developement houses, but to the game buying public they were just COD games; one with a modern military theme and the other good old reliable WWII.



It is entirely unnecessary to strip the COD moniker from these games. As the study shows COD is an incredible recognition factor for gamers, including casual gamers. It mean crazy good first person war experiences with incredible graphics. And quality if guaranteed.



Now they are losing that. They aren't saying why they are doing this, but I doubt it is being done so that they can more easily rollout two lines of IPs.



All these games are branching IPs from the COD series. The could have kept using the name as much as they wanted and we would buy it. So what if 2,3, 4 COD games came out in a single year. The public will buy it because it is COD.

Ken Nakai
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This brand recognition crap is stupid. It's real simple...the people who know COD and know who the better dev is for that brand (yup, IW) know what MW2 is...we call it MW2, not CODMW2. I still play COD4 and thankfully, me and the other gamers playing it aren't stupid enough to not know what MW2 means. Those who don't find out.



For those that don't know the brand, well, that's what advertising is for. It's not like they don't have a marketing budget and it's not like the budget's going to be small for this game.



Even with the change, I'll still think of it as a COD game but really, people, c'mon. Does there really need to be a debate? You act like someone just told you they're reissuing the US currency so you've got to re-learn all the denominations again. It's a game...it'll be great and people will know it's MW2. Who cares if there wasn't a "Modern Warfare 1"? Only a child cares about that sort of detail.



And, the whole brand recognition thing is the purview of the marketing and PR department. The only people impacted by it in the market are those people who don't normally play COD or care. They'll care when their friends are all playing it in which case, surprise surprise, they're told it's MW2 and it's awesome. What more do they need to know? Do they need a historical run down of COD 1-5? Do they need someone to tell them, well, you see, IW made all the even numbered CODs except for 1. Treyarch made the odd numbered ones except for 1. You need to worry if this brand wasn't established (like if MW2 was actually COD2)...and it isn't.

Arun Bapu
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Even if it is the same audience, it probably is a better strategic decision for Activision to make them seperate franchises and have yearly releases. If they have sufficient gap between the 2 releases, say MW2 always comes during holidays and COD during spring/summer, many people will end up buying both.


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