Love it or hate it, Call of Duty has captured the hearts, minds and wallets of many video gamers around the world. It has progressed from a simple, PC only shooter to a massive multi-million dollar franchise spawning various sequels and branch offs on virtually every console created in the past ten years. But, what makes this franchise so appealing to large segments of video game enthusiasts? What makes it so equally loved and hated by the video game community? Is Call of Duty a dying video game franchise? Our goal is to find out in today’s GameSniped post.
Is Call of Duty a Dying Video Game Franchise: A Promising Start
Call of Duty began life as a first-person PC game set in WWII. The game was released in late 2003. The game tried to showcase the combined arms of various campaigns during the war. This novel concept of portraying various views differed from Call of Duty’s more conventional adversary, Medal of Honor (another WWII based PC first person shooter). Call of Duty also featured advanced AI and large groups of allies fighting with the character. Again, this concept stood in contrast to Medal’s ‘lone wolf’ style where the main character would ‘mow down’ entire swaths of enemies by himself.
From the get go, Infinity Ward served as the primary developer for the Call of Duty franchise. They used an older version of the Quake engine to code these initial games.
The initial Call of Duty was met with accolades and rousing success. It was vastly different from the other shooters on the market at the time. Call of Duty even won game of the year awards for its PC version. Eventually, modified versions of the PC game would make their way to the original XBox and PS2. Spin offs of the series were developed for mobile platforms such as the NGage (remember that one?) and the Nintendo DS. Many of these games varied in quality. Call of Duty 3, which was heavily modified and released only on the consoles, was panned by critics for regurgitating the same tired concepts as the other two games (and their spin offs).
An Explosion in Popularity
The fourth installment in the series, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, saw Infinity Ward break from their tried and true WWII setting. Instead, the 2007 game was set in a then futuristic 2011 world. The bulk of the game had gamers playing as a Marine in a fictional middle east country that closely resembled the fighting taking place in real life Iraq. They also introduce new elements which were borrowed from other series (such ‘rechargeable’ health instead of a health bar, unlockable multiplayer achievements, limited number of weapons carried by the player at one time, etc). Games series such as Halo popularized this method. Infinity Ward most likely wished to stay relevant with their growing pool of competitors. Certain COD series conventions remained in this new iteration, such as the multiple view points over different campaigns. For instance, one section in the game sees the player switch from a US marine fighting in the middle east during 2011 to a British SAS sniper skulking about abandoned apartments in the ghost town of Pripyat, Ukraine (or as we know it in the western world, Chernobyl) during 1996. This convention of multiple perspectives and big budget theatrics would continue though all of the Call of Duty games.
From the very beginning of development, COD 4 was designed for equal ‘play-ability’ between the three main video game platforms of the time: the PC, the XBox 360, and the PS3. A small minority of original fans bemoaned the series accessibility or ‘consolization.’ However, this iteration of Call of Duty was met with a huge outburst of accolades from fans and critics alike. The accessibility opened the door to new console fans who had never properly experienced the series before. This new stance on equal console focus enabled Infinity Ward to produce the smoothest, most graphically intensive game yet released. Call of Duty 4 was developed on a custom engine coded sole by Infinity Ward called the IW engine.
Really, Call of Duty 4 is the reason why the Call of Duty franchise experienced so much lasting success. Players loved the somewhat realistic modern battlefields. Like the original Call of Duty, no other competitor offered what Call of Duty brought ‘to the table.’
Is Call of Duty a Dying Video Game Franchise: The End is in Site
Unfortunately, all of the success of COD 4 led Activision, Infinity Ward, and branch game developer, Treyarch, to produce more of the same. With each new iteration (or branch off) in the COD franchise, the series became more stale and predictable. In turn, competing 1st person shooter franchises began to surpass the once innovative formula. Call of Duty experienced a modicum of success with their spin off series, Call of Duty: Black Ops. Black Ops was developed by the secondary development team, Treyarch. The story revolved around a soldier being questioned for his involvement with different events during the cold war. Black Ops plot is revealed through a series of flash backs from the imprisoned soldier. Right around this time, Activision made gamer headlines by firing several top level managers from Infinity Ward. Activision then brought in a third developer, Sledgehammer Games, to assist the remaining Infinity Ward staff in developing the last Modern Warfare game.
Despite the by now stagnant nature of the series, COD amassed a massive group of follower not so different from faithful Madden gamers.Â By November 11th, 2011, theÂ Call of DutyÂ series as a whole reportedly sold more than 100 million copies.Â Online gamers logged over 1,600,000,000 hours of online gameplay inÂ Modern Warfare 3Â since its release in 2011.
A Series Reboot or Further Digging the Grave?
The success of Call of Duty extends beyond video games. The franchise has grown to include action figures, aÂ card game, and aÂ comic bookÂ mini-series published byÂ WildStorm. Activision and Sledgehammer Games plan to release the newest Call of Duty series, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare this November 4th, 2014. Advanced Warfare will take place in a futuristic 2054 America. The game will follows Atlas, a private militia and largest military body in the game’s world as they take contracts from the highest bidder. Sledgehammer Games promises that the newest game will benefit from its three year development cycle (as opposed to the usual 2 year cycle of past COD games).
We have mixed feelings as to whether this new franchise will be as successful as the original or Modern Warfare series. Only time will prove if this new game reignites the ailing franchise. The franchise itself may one day fade away. But, it’s past influence on first person shooters and video games as a whole is altogether undeniable. That’s why, we’ve compiled a list of Call of Duty *schwag* pulled from the ‘Bay and Amazon:
This is a sweet collection of the early games in one convenient package!
Game disc is scratched but the price is right for collectors edition
Pre Order the new COD on Xbox One
A bit steep for dog tags, but if you’re a collector…
This bad boy comes complete with functioning night vision goggles!