ByTim Horton, writer at Creators.co
Business Development Manager at Universally Speaking. @TimHortonGame | Email: [email protected]
Tim Horton

With great power comes great responsibility. Call of Duty is without a doubt one the biggest names in the business. It is clear that across the board Call of Duty is still the number one name when it comes to online shooters. So much so that the genre itself has become synonymous with the brand.

A game played by Millions, from Royalty to Hollywood A-listers, Call of Duty certainly is the golden child of not just the genre but the industry as a whole. Love it or hate it, 13 years on it is still an international gaming fixation.

Record breaker. Call of Duty broke two world records in consecutive years for being the best selling game of all time, back in 2010/11, Call of Duty: Black Ops shipped 8 Million units in its first month followed by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 which shipped 8.8 Million units in its first month.

Modern Warfare 3 went onto to make $775 Million in the first five days of release – this was something that was more or less unheard of in the video game industry at the time.

As it stands, the community plays more than 2000 years of Call of Duty in a day.

$3.4 quadrillion worth of UAV’s have been shot down in Call of Duty.

Since 2003 Call of Duty has been played for over 25 Billion hours – that’s 2.85 Million years

Since 2003 18 Billion multiplayer matches have taken palce.

Since 2003 Players Have Respawned 1.9 Quadrillion Times

Since 2003 31 Billion Care Packages Have Been Dropped

In total the overall figure of people that have and still do play Call of Duty is well over 100 Million.

How did it get so big?

Impressive bragging rights. The original Call of Duty series, set back in World War 2 on the whole received solid reviews from the critics. Originally developed to rival EA’s iconic Medal of Honour series Call of Duty dropped players directly into the war torn cities of Europe. The series was well received but never for a minute gave out any hint that it would become one of the biggest and most profitable entertainment franchises in the world.

The catalyst? Call of Duty: Modern Warfare - it was not just a game it was a game changer – with all new innovative game mechanics and ground breaking conviction Modern Warfare revolutionised the way we play first person shooters forever. The move from the barren fields of WW2 and into the modern day era was risky but ultimately inspired. As Cpt Price says himself, ‘he who dares, wins’ and boy did Activision back a winner here.

But why is it so good?

It goes back a long way

Heritage is important; the series has demonstrated a level of competence and reliability that gamers trust. Due to the scale of success this has allowed for extensive advertisement. Advertising on television and at major sporting events instils the brand in consumer memory especially around holiday seasons it becomes the go to video game for the non gamer buying a game for a gamer.

It’s easy to play

It is ingenious in its design – with each and every Call of Duty title that is released we see all new levels of innovation and experimentation but no matter what era or distinct gameplay environment the new title brings with it the same basic elementary Call of Duty experience. Anyone is able to pick up the controller and have a great time playing the game. And at the same time it allows for the more competitive gamers to play with greater depth – it really is brilliant.

Look at esports

Esports in now the third most watched sporting activity in the world and to play in the exact same environment that the professionals do is something that in any other walk of life is usually unthinkable. It is like shooting hoops with your friends in Madison Square Garden whilst eating nachos.

"Everyone loves competition, whether its at the highest level in pro tournaments or in a dorm room with your friends, and Call of Duty makes that possible for everyone." Tom Kennedy

Because of all of this Call of Duty has turned into the perfect gateway game to lure players into the industry – it is full of action, has a thriving community and is easy to play.

The franchise fanned the flames that engulfed the industry. Call of Duty 4: Modern warfare is considered by many industry experts and players alike to be the turning point in the genre. Before the innovations introduced by Call of Duty it was a very bleak looking landscape – the games were fun but ultimately lacked that immersive element.

So what are the fans really saying (We asked them)?

It is the number one best selling first person shooter game in the genre, fact. But does that mean that it is the best? In theory the future is looking extremely bright for this ever-expanding series. Everything looks great when you look at the statistics but the voices behind the statistics seem to be growing ever louder.

To say that there has been unrest within the community over the past few years would be somewhat of an understatement. It would seem that the majority of the community we spoke with take a strong dislike to the new direction of the franchise. Time after time we have heard from disgruntled gamers that their voices are not being heard.

It would seem that the majority of the Call of Duty community do not want to see another Call of Duty set in thefuture. Back to basics is the number one request received. Back to basic gameplay that does not include exo suits, double jumping or over powered laser guns. I include myself when I report that the consensus returned reported that players wanted to be re-immersed into what felt like ‘real warfare’.

We want to relate to a game – a game extends to us the ability to escape our reality and jump head first into a world of otherwise impossible fantasy. When it comes to war, it is something that many of us will fortunately never actually experience but games like Call of Duty are able emulate that fantasy from a safe distance. However since Modern Warfare, Call of Duty have been lacking a large amount of realism - only games like Battlefield are able to take us to the real world battle situations we crave.

By allowing us to use the weapons and vehicles we see in the movies and on the news we are able to form a deeper connection to the in-game environment. We live in a society where many of us will have a favourite gun, helicopter or jet so allowing us to take control of said high-grade military equipment is an exhilarating experience.

The problem with games set too far in the future is that all the weapons and abilities don’t actually exist in the real world. The player has no real idea what the gun he/she is holding can do. Modifying and customising a laser gun is a futile activity for me – I can’t relate to the weapon. If I can’t relate to half the things that are going on, I will never truly be immersed in the gameplay. And this is a view that seems to be shared by many others.

People in the know

We managed to get an afternoon with industry expert, Tom Kennedy to find out more. Tom makes his living knowing everything there is to know about Call of Duty. Tom has run a Call of Duty based community since 2009 (CODNextGen) and with well over half a million Call of Duty crazy fans chatting away within his community it made sense to ask them a thing or two.

Tom, what do the fans want from the next Call of Duty?

“From what I hear from the community, a return to simplicity seems to be a major point on the wishlist. Personally, I think it would benefit Call of Duty the most to accept what the community wants. A lot of speculation regarding an advanced future setting has gone around which I’ve seen met with a fair bit of displeasure to say least. I think it’s time COD finds its roots again.”

Is it a new experience each time?

"Yes and no. There are only so many times you can make the same game without it getting stale. Since Call of Duty 4 the fan size has grown to an incredible size and in an effort to keep up, Activision has started breaking up the workload among developers. On one hand, this offers great advantages: more time for the team to work on their project, different perspective on the game and an overall greater degree of creativity. At the same time, with an aging franchise, gamers grow to expect more and more. What might seem like a radically new approach to someone who started playing two years ago is unimpressive to franchise veterans who have been playing every year since the early days of Xbox 360 and PS3. So, yes and no."

Yet, year after year we see global sales reaching new heights. It is the oddest of paradox’s. On the one hand we have record numbers of fans claiming to be boycotting releases yet the newer titles still manage to outsell the one before.

It would seem that we have as many new comers to the game as we have debunkers or is it just that the game has become the stock choice for the industry?

"To get started, I think when looking at the FPS genre today, Call of Duty still reigns supreme. Both statistically speaking and gameplay wise. At this point, the COD franchise’s fanbase growth has tapered enough to the point where the majority of people who will be picking up the next title are certainly not new to the game."

The verdict - the publishers are happy but are we?


Sure, the publishers are happy, and I guess for the most part we are too. Despite the continued outcry from the fans it seems that Call of Duty will remain the number one shooter for the foreseeable future. Why? Firstly, Call of Duty is king of the hill and because we the fans continue to buy the game in our tens of millions - supply and demand - we keep buying they keep selling. In their eyes they can't be doing too much wrong if they continue to sell vast quantities.

However with more and more people defecting back to Battlefield for that real world modern war experience, Activision and co may want to take stock of the shifting momentum and return either to either WW2 or the Modern Warfare era. Check out CodNextgen’s latest poll.

Sometimes you don’t need to be over creative if it is not needed. The Call of Duty series was originally famed for its unbelievable levels of realism in its portrayal of war back in the early day of the series. To be ground breaking they took us to places in the games that players would never be able to go in the real world. Not only emotionally but geographically we were sent to accurate representations of real world locations including Normandy and Chernobyl.

There are two key elements that dominated our survey – to keep Call of Duty ‘real’ and ‘simple’. That seems to be the overwhelming opinion within the Call of Duty community. Real weapons, real world special forces, simple tactical gameplay, a real close quarter military simulation. Makes sense, that's how it used to be.

I totally get why the developers push the boundaries, goodness knows I would myself but they must push with the community not against it. I love the Call of Duty series and yes, I will be playing the upcoming title. Sure, I have my preferences (return to MW) but no matter where or when the next Call of Duty appears it will still have at its core that unrivalled Call of Duty mechanic that we all know and love.

It would seem that the fans are screaming for a total 360 on Call of Duty gameplay direction. Stepping back out of the future and into the real world. Do you agree?

We have reached out to Activision and are awaiting a response to the above opinion provided by the fans.

Sources: CODNextGen. Image from Karnageclan

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