Black Hawk Down of Duty?

Few would deny that Ridley Scott is a competent director. Since he made ‘Alien‘ and ‘Blade Runner‘, he gets a lot of free passes in my book. However, Scott has been taking advantage of said passes rather liberally in the last 10-12 years. This ‘Alien’ prequel thing he’s doing could easily go south pretty quickly if he botches it. So, when I heard that Mr. Scott was going to participate in the ‘Call of Duty’ videogame franchise too, you could say that it colored me curious.

According to an article in USA Today, Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg announced that Ridley Scott would do some sort of “exclusive episodic entertainment” for the ‘Call of Duty’ Elite community. Elite, as far as I can tell, is a social network/community site where you and all of your ‘CoD’ buddies can pay extra money to get slightly more service and features than you might from, say, Bungie’s free ‘Halo’ web site. While it looks like it might truly be cool, I’m not sure that anyone in the videogame industry has quite figured out the ideal business model for this sort of thing yet. Regardless, Scott’s participation may make this worth the extra money. Hirshberg also stated that Jason Bateman and Will Arnett would be involved.

Here’s a funny, if rather long, Activision trailer for Elite:

This whole thing is very intriguing to me and on several levels:

  1. Is this going to be funny? While Jason Bateman is a talented actor, he’s basically at his best in comedies. As is Will Arnett. Will Scott direct them in something funny? What’s the last thing you saw Scott do that was funny? What was the last decent thing you saw Bateman and Arnett do that was serious?
  2. Videogame makers often fancy themselves as storytellers, but truth be told, I can count on one hand how many videogames I’ve played that deftly crafted a “story.” While many games have great story elements, there are only a rare few that take you on a journey filled with emotional connections and conflict. Perhaps Scott’s participation will help bridge this gap.
  3. I already pay big dollars for the game, and of course I buy every downloadable map. Now Activision wants me to pay even more so that I can understand the story? I haven’t truly enjoyed any of the ‘CoD’ games on a story level. They’re a hoot to play, and then play again via multiplayer matches, but none of them have had compelling stories. If Activision is trying something new (which should certainly be commended), will it only be available to the “elite” (i.e. suckers willing to pay more)? Will this community enhance the experience enough that I’ll be compelled to spend the extra money?

Those are some of the questions I’m keen to hear answers for. I do like some good Ridley Scott, and wish him the best of success on this project. I suppose only time will tell how this will turn out.

If Scott makes some truly kick-ass content for a truly kick-ass game, would you pay extra for it?


  1. GatorAce

    Hey there Wayne,

    Another great article. You’re setting the bar high, man. Keep up the thought provoking work. I look forward to the next one.

    • Wayne Rowe

      🙂 I hear ya. I think therein lies the problem. Far too often the story takes you out of the game. I like the idea of a motion comic or an animated film or an iPhone game (a la Dead Space), but I loved that game and never read/watched any of those external things. Will Scott be doing just that? External stuff with a bit more oomph? But I gotta pay extra for it? Very curious.

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