There’s a lot of speculation on whether Call of Duty is dying, or will just die off. [Here is one source] There has been some articles saying that Activision wrote in their memos that Call of duty may be dying, and some differences were pointed out. [source] Call of Duty is going to continue and will continue to exist, and will continue to sell.
Lets get to the facts first, though. I mean, we’re talking about a franchise that makes 1 billion dollars a year, give or take. That’s just revenues. COD4 has sold over 17 million units since it released in 2007. World of War sold less than COD4, however. Modern Warfare 2 sold more, by selling over 20 million units. Just to give you an idea, World of War sold 1.14 million units the first week of sales, while Modern Warfare 2 not only sold more in a week, and took in more money in the process by grossing 550 million dollars in the first week of sales. That’s close to a billion dollars. Now, earlier I said COD4 sold 17 million units, World at War fell short of expectations by selling only 11 million units worldwide. Black Ops grossed 650 million on the first week of sales, and 18 million units. Sit back and look at the difference in the numbers.
COD4: Modern Warfare – 17 million units.
COD: World at War – 11 million units.
COD: Modern Warfare 2 – 20 million units.
COD: Black Ops – 18 million units.
For the record: COD4, and Modern Warfare 2 were developed by Infinity Ward. World at War and Black Ops were developed by Treyarch. Notice that each company has more or less. Treyarch seems to lag behind Infinity Ward each time. Treyarch has consistently shown that the company is incapable of pushing the envelope. While Infinity Ward pushed hard. I also noticed that there’s a market cap in there. Black Ops only sold more because it seems to inherit the COD4/MW2 market. Activision needs to push harder in order to break a new record.
Let’s look at the history of the FPS niche for a bit, and then the music games niche. First Person Shooters were invented in 1992 with Wolfenstein 3D. Some argue that it dates back to 1973 with far, far less advanced games, and an NES game almost invented it with a power glove game called “Super Glove Ball.” But due to the difference in gameplay aesthetics, the games before Wolfenstein 3D did not fill the bill, but Doom did, and became one of the most influential video game of all time. That’s what…. 18 years that FPS has existed? That’s quite a long time. Now, music games for the most part have not sold all that well until games like Dance Dance Revolution, and Guitar Hero came onto the scene. The trend of music games started as late as 1997 if memory serves me right. That’s a 5 year difference you see there. In 1998 Dance Dance Revolution definitely revolutionized how you played music games – apart from physical media games like Simon Says. Guitar Hero was a franchise that was born in the year 2005, that’s a huge gap you see there, between DDR and GH is 7 years without a real killer app.
My point here is that FPS has been a constant, constant, and I mean the one constant genre that kept in the top 10 video games. There are hundreds and hundreds of FPS titles out in the market, against a niche that only survives on innovation alone. Not because of the genre. Not because it’s something that gamers want to play on a year by year basis. Not because it’s something new. Because the gamers are used to the genre. While music games are very broad, it fails to be the one constant thing that developers try to capitalize on, and miserably fails to keep gamers hooked. There’ll always be a new franchise that becomes the #1 best selling video game for that year. Doom was a franchise that has been the king for 5 years straight, Quake came in second for the same consecutive number of years, and lets not forget Epic’s best offering: The entire Unreal universe. Hell, there’s an engine named after it.
Lets talk about Electronic Arts; a company that is well intent on taking down Call of Duty from being the #1 video game in the world today. Electronic Arts is no stranger to the FPS genre; it has developed some First Person Shooters. Medal of Honor is their personal project, they have developed James Bond games, Battlefield, and Crysis.
In 2002, the Medal of Honor series was on a decline thanks to the intense competition of FPS titles released at the time, one game that emerged victorious was Call of Duty the year afterwards. Last year, Medal of Honor was revived by Electronic Arts with the intention to compete directly against Call of Duty. That plan fell flat on their faces because of many reasons.
That’s the next subject. One of the reasons why Medal of Honor failed to sell well, or nearly as well as Black Ops that released the month after MoH. Electronic Arts, if you’re reading this, take notes:
Modern Warfare 2 had a controversial component in a mission called “No Russian.” The segment was one of the most iconic, the most controversial mission of any video game thus far, it makes games like Mortal Kombat and Grand Theft Auto pale in comparison at all. Rockstar might have been jealous of Activision. It’s so legendary, that pretty much every single television media conglomerates spoken ill towards Modern Warfare 2. But that’s actually a good thing, EA. It sold more copies worldwide. If you want, here’s one of the videos that bashes Modern Warfare 2:
Shortly before Medal of Honor’s release, there was a lot of information surfacing onto the internet, in the wake of it all though there was a lot of controversy surrounding one particular thing (actually two things): One, one of the factions that are in Medal of Honor was the Taliban. The other was the fact that the game focuses on the military team that fought in afghanistan; that’s also the where of MoH revival. A lot of people were asking if Osama Bin Laden is actually part of the plot.
The company retracted it’s idea to include Taliban; they removed the group entirely and altered pieces of the story. [source] So, MoH is basically a dumbed down first person shooter that was also plagued by various gameplay problems.
The difference between Electronic Arts and Activision shines through based on what you see so far; Activision had the balls to keep a controversial mission as part of the entire game, as much as it is a calculated risk, it paid off for them: 550 million dollars in the first week of sales. Basically kicked Grand Theft Auto 4 from the top of the list. Electronic Arts was shy of controversy so much that it had to remove the position that literally every gamer would want: Kill the Talibans, kill Osama Bin Laden.
Electronic Arts was very close to winning that top place. If only had Electronic Arts left it alone, it would have made them more money than they ever imagined. And I don’t think better graphics or engine like what Battlefield 3 is being; is going to help matters.
To that end: We do not know the story of Modern Warfare 3 right now, but a lot of people on forums, such as MW3Forum; are saying that Modern Warfare 3 should be “Operation Osama Bin Laden.” Following the news that Bin Laden has been killed.
‘Till then, Call of Duty is king. Deal with it, Electronic Arts!