In an OXM podcast interview, Epic Executive Producer Rod Fergusson spoke about Gears of War’s multiplayer popularity compared with the competition. Gears of War has always had a steady community, but it never hit numbers that could overpower Call of Duty. Fergusson says the focus was never there, anyway.
“It was never our intention to try to dominate, be the number one in terms of multiplayer,” he said. “If you look at the size of the audience for Black Ops, 25 million or whatever–we’re not trying to become the number one on Xbox Live, we’re just trying to have a sustained [experience] that our community and our audience loves to play, and that people who are new to the game can enjoy and not have somebody rolling up and shooting them in the face, and quitting.”
While that last part may be an obvious dig at the hyper-competitive landscape of Black Ops, it seems Epic understands that their game isn’t built to compete with that juggernaut: “They come for the campaign and stay for the multiplayer, as Cliff likes to say–we’re just trying to make sure it’s worth staying for.”
Gears of War offers a very different experience to Call of Duty, but not one that’s less valid. The problem, more than anything, comes with the pace of the game. When the Gears 3 beta released, many of my Black Ops-playing friends deemed the game slow and clunky. “Have you ever played Gears of War?” I asked. When they said no, I knew it would be a long time before most online gamers would be willing to try something fresh.