As I was typing all the key releases into the release schedule I was struck by the disparity between EA's solid schedule and Activision's weak one. If you haven't taken a look then under Company Information in the Bougafer menu you can select a publisher and you get the key events and releases just for that publisher.
Activision's line-up is, quite frankly, weak. I suppose because they've killed some of their solid franchises (Tony Hawk, Guitar Hero, DJ Hero) and failed with some new ones like Blur they're left with Call of Duty and some licensed stuff. Now their recent results were good but that must be built on the twin pillars of World of Warcraft and Call of Duty.
What I think is interesting is that the Call of Duty is under some pressure this year from a number of different angles.
Firstly, it's just difficult to annualise a franchise - apart from the sports titles like FIFA, NBA2k I can't think of any franchise that survives an annual iteration for more than a few years. So, there's a risk that CoD players are going to get (or be) jaded.
Secondly, this year's title is being developed by Infinity Ward. For those that have forgotten this is the developer where Activision sacked the studio leads which led to bitter recriminations and (I think still running) law suits. That's hardly the best recipe for a successful development.
Thirdly, Activision have a terrible reputation for killing their franchises due to over-exploitation (and a touch of arrogance). Call of Duty is a phenomenon but that does mean it can escape from Activision's curse?
And fourthly, and I think most interestingly, Modern Warfare 3 is going head to head with Battlefield 3 from EA. Now, there isn't a franchise out there (with the possible exception of GTA) that would really scare Modern Warfare but I think there's a real risk that Battlefield is going to eat some of their lunch. Battlefield is an established franchise, in some ways ahead of CoD, it's had a lot longer in development and, who knows, maybe people will be ready for a chance.
The battle is a long way off but if Battlefield 3 does throw a stick into the spokes of Modern Warfare 3 then Activision are going to be looking very precarious as the top publisher. Because without the strength of Call of Duty then all they have is the Blizzard stuff. And for those that think Call of Duty is too strong, then remember that Call of Duty rose up to take the crown from Medal of Honour. So there is a precedent for this.