Call of Duty is one of the biggest gaming franchises in the world and arguably the number 1 FPS game, the Activision Blizzard game has been around for over 20 years and has spawned many sequels and is beloved by many gamers. There are not many gaming franchises that can command the attention that this one does, with film-like releases, merchandising, and the hype surrounding this franchise.
It’s a BIG deal
I understand some people may disagree and will always cause debate but in reality Call of Duty is the biggest FPS franchise ever, it played the most, sold the most and probably gets the most hype of any other FPS game in history, its merchandise is sort after and highly desirable. For some, it is THE game, with its seemingly yearly release of one of its versions. There are not many games that deserve a post about just that game, but with the popularity, sales, franchise and potential movie etc.
Call of Duty arrived
Now Call of Duty came from very small routes, a more lesser-known company at the time Infinity ward developed a shooter game based on WW2, back in 2003 and was released by Activision. It was a tough time, Medal of Honour, Battlefield and Counterstrike were the standard of shooters with a couple of other games like Operation flashpoint, ghost recon among others were saturating the market, back in the day when we had big games every week. Its PC release was fine but in reality, even with an expansion and collection, it didn’t set the world alight.
Moving onto Call of duty 2, its release for both PC and Xbox 360 opened up some more eyes, it was an improved game and began to gain some hype and love, FPS games saw this as an alternative to stagnant Medal of hours and the increasing popularity of Battlefield. Its console launch saw some new fans join unlike some of its competitors who were more about PC, and the emerging online.
Activision saw legs in this franchise and being their main FPS, so they decided on a new strategy in which multiple developers would make the different arc of the games, Treyarch made Call of Duty 3 and was a console only released, for many it was seen as a backwards step at the time, Call of Duty 2 had raised the game and started to being hype but 3 seemingly felt a little flat
However, what it did do is increase its knowledge and popularity on Consoles, with this style of FPS being mainly a PC type game, this gave gamers who owned PS2, Xbox, PS3, Nintendo Wii, and Xbox 360 all had the chance, and for some of these platforms this was a huge step.
It all changed
But then the world of Call of Duty and FPS shooters forever changed, Infinity Ward were back to making their arc but unlike the previous games they were charged in doing a modern warfare style game, thus Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare was released back in 2007. I was in the industry and attended a gaming conference before its release, we saw lots of games but there was that stood out, almost everyone there was like “what is this? wow best game here, this is going to change it”known had a bad word and it was the game on everyone’s tongue.
So needless to say it was released to a huge success, its visuals and game mechanics had improved, and they had found that grove, utilising the modern warfare world it allowed them to take it to that next level and the gamers were all it.
With Modern warfare it took Call of Duty out of the pack to the leader, the hype was huge and it suddenly became the game and was released on multiple platforms. However this then created a problem, Treyarch were up next on their rotation and it was back to WW2, with World at War. With such rights of the previous game, Treyarch was still yet to find their groove with the franchise and even though it still sold well, and as a game was fine, it didn’t hurt the franchise or hinder it, but people were looking forward to the next game.
With its popularity now overtaking most other games, the Call of duty Modern warfare 2 felt like a huge release, queues, merch, midnight openings, adverts, whatever it had reached a new level for gaming. Remember even in 2009 gaming was still looked down on by other entertainment franchises but along with a couple of other games COD was changing that, and the people were not let down, it’s still well-liked today and for many FPS gamers MW2 will always be one of the best games.
The Story Arcs
As the Arcs swung on we were back at Treyarch, Infinity ward was strong on the modern warfare arc but Treyarch you could argue were struggling, however, they released Call of Duty Black Ops changed the game again. this unusual experiment of two companies releasing games alternative years within the same franchise finally came true. With Black ops it became a different game almost, and had people beginning to choose favourites, it moved on from WW2 towards the cold war and Vietnam a little.
With Call of duty Modern Warfare 3, Sledgehammer games were added to the developer list and with the help of Infinity ward the game was released, but going forward we would now have 3 different developers alternating within the franchise. however the single-player story with now a big focus and was almost film-like budget and thus the quality was increasing, this would now be the priority for the next few games.
But the year after saw the return of Black ops with number 2, this was now a fully-fledged hyped game and with Zombies becoming suddenly a big part of the game, there was definitely now a group of gamers that we’re loving this game. This though was now a yearly thing and the next few years saw them rotate to other of the Arc games. Black ops 3 and 4 were released, along with Ghosts, Advance warfare, and a new Modern Warefare was back as we moved onto new platforms such as PS4 and Xbox One, even a WW2 based game was back.
Treated Like Films
You could argue that possibly we were beginning to see the saturation of the Call of duty FPS market, other companies were struggling to keep up with the quality and it was almost like at times that COD was competing with themselves. however they were still the dominant force In FPS, their games were even bigger and were feeling like Film released alongside huge budgets.
With PS5 and Xbox Series X we saw another new wave of games starting to launch utilising the improved specs, Treyarch returned with Call of Duty Black Ops Cold war, while Sledgehammer games had Vanguard. these were still hugely popular and for owners of the new consoles and high-end PC’s they were still arguably the biggest games in the world.
Look at the Call Of Duty Merch!
With how big it has become, the brand itself is one of the biggest gaming brands ever, and arguably one of the modern known brands in pop culture in general. Thus merchandising is also a highly sort after thing, each year we get new and exciting items based on the yearly launch of the game. For many, they have their favourite COD game through the years as I mentioned earlier, so they are keen to get the merch that represents their favourite game.
Along with Mobile games, handheld games, 3 different generations of consoles, COD has been around a long while and even with 3 different developers, controversy, ownership changing hands it’s still THE game in FPS. Every FPS gamer has a COD that they enjoyed, even if they are fans of other franchises they still can have respect for the franchise and a game that they will think is really good.
In the world of gaming, I’m unsure of the biggest franchise, some go close but most people have heard of Call of duty, good or bad, all Pop culture and gamers know COD, that’s how far its stretch go.
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