Retrospective: The Call of Duty Series

By @TrueGodImmortal 

Now, initially I wasn't going to write this one. I mean, there has been so many shots taken at this franchise that I figured why even go there. However, at one time, this series could do no wrong. While that description might fit for NBA Live, it also fits for Call of Duty in some ways as well. The Activision led series began in late 2003 with the release of the very first game. Now, this first person shooter experience was a bit different usual when it was released as the soldier you played was accompanied by a group of computer controlled soldiers to protect you.

With the first Call of Duty, Activision helped changed the way military games were played. Long gone was the lone wolf element, replaced by brotherhood and teamwork. It allowed you to play not only the American experience, but the British experience and the Soviet experience as well. It was a solid game all around but for me, the game truly reached a peak with Call of Duty 2.

Call of Duty 2 was the one that truly got me hooked. Set in the World War older days, Call of Duty 2 was perfection. The game that took the series to new heights. This is where the madness truly began as Call of Duty 2 has sold over 6 million copies since it's November 2005 release. While Call of Duty 3 was also successful, the gameplay was far too similar to COD 2, and got repetitive after a while honestly. The game sold incredibly well however, as it registered 7 million copies sold worldwide as well. However, with the release of Call of Duty 3, it became apparent that the franchise needed a small change of pace and boost.

Enter the Modern Warfare series.

Modern Warfare was the 4th installment In the COD series and it spawned its own series due to the massive success. Released in November 2007, Modern Warfare would go on to sell over 16 million copies and be the most successful game of 2007. Armed with new features, modern weapons and a more recent setting, Modern Warfare received rave reviews and is still regarded as one of the best games in the series, if not the best. Modern Warfare 2 would be a massive success, as it moved over 5 million copies worldwide in just the first 48 hours of release, with Call of Duty seeming even stronger than usual at this point. The Modern Warfare series would prove to be the most financially viable it seemed, as Modern Warfare 3 was a huge success, selling 6.5 million copies alone in the U.S. and U.K. within 24 hours. The Modern Warfare trilogy was one that felt revitalizing for the brand and the series, but Call of Duty maintained its fanbase and attention even with games that weren't in the Modern Warfare model.

The Call of Duty: World At War game was pretty lackluster to me, as it took us back to that older feel of the original games and while it was still successful, it lacked the feel that made Modern Warfare so special. However, there would soon be a new series in the Call of Duty brand that would take it to yet another level:

The Black Ops series. 

Now, as the Black Ops series began, it took you through the Cold War and revisited World War 2 yet again, but in a different manner than before. The gameplay was more stealth, more advanced and the mechanics proved simple enough, as the game was beyond enjoyable, yet to me personally, paled in comparison to the greatness of Modern Warfare. The Black Ops franchise started off just as successful and profitable as Modern Warfare however with millions of copies sold, breaking the Modern Warfare 2 record as well when it arrived. Black Ops 2 would continue the trend as well, breaking the Modern Warfare 3 record, and the Call of Duty Series seemed to be unstoppable at this point.

That was until Ghosts arrived. Ghosts was a poorly thought out game that paled in comparison to previous editions and didn't live up to the hype at all. While it was fun at times to play, the core audience of COD didn't seem to find it as engaging. While Ghosts was immensely successful, selling 19 million copies worldwide, it paled in comparison to previous editions of COD. With a rare miss (and a financially successful miss), COD tried to recover with the Advanced Warfare game. Advanced Warfare was seen as a step up from Ghosts and with it being set in the future between 2054 and 2061, it gave us a different experience, which fans seemed to enjoy more. However, the sales took a 27% drop with Advanced Warfare, despite the noticeable improvement in the gameplay and overall feel of the game. However, Advanced Warfare would still go on to become the highest selling game of 2014. With their sales declining, despite being the most successful franchise, Call of Duty went back home. They went back to the Black Ops franchise for Black Ops 3, a small sign of desperation to have earth shattering sales numbers again (despite being extremely successful anyway).

While Black Ops 3 sales numbers aren't comparable yet, it remains to be seen if this works for Activision in the long run. Could this franchise need a new series? Or should it go back to the series that worked? Only time will tell, but right now, the Call of Duty franchise is losing its luster. Here's hoping it improves.



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