Call Of Duty Became More Diverse In My Tenure, Eric Hirshberg Says

OC Interview Eric Hirshberg
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Call Of Duty boss Eric Hirshberg will vacate his post as Publishing CEO of Activision, but not before leaving a massive impact on the most popular shooter franchise in industry history. During his eight-year tenure, each annualized Call Of Duty title was the best-selling game of the year in North America.

But, as part of a November interview with our partners at Newsweek, Hirshberg spoke about much greater desires than topping NPD charts and touting massive financial gains. In his mind, his greatest contribution to Call Of Duty’s legacy was emphasizing diversity in the games and their respective communities.

“Video games often get misconceived or mischaracterized as a subculture or niche, a passion off to the side. And I think Call Of Duty has put it right in the center of the bullseye for mass popular culture,” he said. “And so using it as something that unites all types of entertainment consumers is something we've been able to do effectively over the last few years. The 'There's A Soldier In All Of Us' idea, bringing all different age groups, genders, types of people from all over the world together into this one arena is something I've been very passionate about. I want to use this franchise as a platform to bring more people into this hobby than any other has been able to do.”

The “Soldier In All Of Us,” of course, refers to a live-action ad for 2010’s original Call Of Duty: Black Ops, which suggested that average Joes, all-star athletes and business professionals can fight the same multiplayer battle. It was the spark to Hirshberg’s message of togetherness that continues into 2018.

Eric Hirshberg1
Eric Hirshberg's Activision has enjoyed record-setting success since the launch of Call Of Duty: WWII in November. Photo: Activision

That being said, diversity isn’t just about inviting players of different backgrounds to enjoy a common experience. Hirshberg also pushed for variety in gameplay, too:

“The other thing I've always focused on is creating a creative environment where our creative people are free to experiment and free to bring new, fresh and innovative ideas to a franchise that is very successful and familiar to millions of people. It's perhaps what I've tried to do more than anything else...

“Creating that set of wide guard rails for our creative people to experiment in, play in and create in has been my focus. It hasn't always worked, but overall it's led to a lot of success and continued relevance as a franchise.”

Hirshberg’s last two Call Of Duty titles are perhaps most emblematic of his variety-focused approach. 2016’s Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare, which Hirshberg admits didn’t feel enough like Call Of Duty, was followed up by Call Of Duty: WWII - an experience focused on the traditional gameplay elements that gave the franchise its historic reputation. It’s that combination of experimentation and inclusiveness that defines Hirshberg’s Call Of Duty.

Hirshberg will leave Activision in March, but he still has much love for his development teams and the leadership of Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. His replacement has not been named at this time. As for Call Of Duty, Hirshberg told us he’s excited for what's to come and promises that proven sub-franchises and time periods will keep the series feeling fresh.

Call Of Duty: WWII is available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Are you sad to hear about Eric Hirshberg’s departure from Activision? Who would be a good replacement? Tell us in the comments section!

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