Those CEOs, the things they say when they're talking to the magazines CEOs read, thinking no one's watching. Talking to the Economist, Activision's Bobby Kotick said "a small segment" of gamers are the ones insisting "everything has to be new."
In an August 13 profile run by the respected news magazine, Kotick responded to a reporter's question about milking IPs with:
A small segment of very vocal gamers say everything has to be new and different every year. Actually, people are happy with existing franchises, provided you innovate within them.
It's the kind of response that makes both Kotick's position and the criticism pretty fair. Call of Duty? Modern Warfare absolutely was innovative, and has earned its shot for another go around. Guitar Hero? Re-skinning the game with a new band every quarter, more or less, is gonna be called for what it is.
But Activision, and other publishers, do face a Catch-22 of sorts. Create the game of the year, or close? Not only would you be foolish not to consider a sequel, the same hardcore complaining about sequels will be right in line to snap it up. And then you get beaten over the head for having a bunch of 2s and 3s and 4s in your catalogue. But, that's why they pay you the big bucks.
Activision: People Prefer Sequels to Original IPs [Game Stooge]