Call of Duty is a franchise that nearly every gamer is familiar with, and many non-gamers as well. Its popularity as a console FPS alternative to the Counterstrike community combined with its tight controls made the glaring flaws in the current state of FPS—console and PC—blatantly obvious. The fact that developing studio Infinity Ward was backed by videogame powerhouse Activision made Call of Duty a surefire hit. Some of the early titles boasted arguably compelling storylines and scenery, and this certainly helped as well.
But it was the (for the time) seamless multiplayer that really turned Call of Duty into a mainstay that, despite a few (or quite a few) lackluster or downright pitiful titles, still has a loyal fan base and pool of real FPS competitors.
That said, as Battlefront and CS:GO steal some major attention and rave reviews away from the mainstream Call of Duty, the question becomes: is Call of Duty too mediocre? Is the franchise doomed to fail in the end? As far as e-sports betting goes, it doesn't do too great when it comes to volume, especially not compared to CS:GO.
As this graph from statista.com shows, there has been no clear decline in the Call of Duty franchise. On the contrary, this decade’s sales have far outpaced the last half of the 2000’s that spawned the now-staple FPS franchise.
Will Call of Duty get the
James Bond Zelda effect?
There may be some “bad” Zelda games here or there, but there will always be a fanbase for more Zelda games. There are other running brands in the video game industry like Mario and Final Fantasy that will always have a home for their titles, both mediocre and stellar, but in the FPS genre (especially the competitive arena), Counter Strike, Battlefront, and Call of Duty are constantly vying for the top slot. These three are the main contenders for superior competitive game, best-selling titles, or biggest competitive scene and fanbase, things that constantly shift with each game.
Halo fans like myself watch teary eyed as these three FPS fanboys argue over their supremacy and the others’ mediocrity. The Halo scene is also far from dead, but one day we’d like to be on top in the FPS world. I mean, Halo has aliens and futuristic weapons mixed with old school coolness! A Halo-dominated competitive FPS scene will assuredly never happen though.
To the surprise (or chagrin) of many hardcore gamers though, Call of Duty actually does have such a shot at obtaining the immortal franchise title.
I’ll believe it when we finally get Call of Duty: Future War (Advanced Warfare attempted to scratch that itch, but was more of a lackluster love letter to the cyber punk genre than a real futuristic FPS). And then I want Call of Duty: Ancient Warfare, goddammit. I wanna throw some spears with the Spartans at Thermopylae. I wanna shoot arrows with the Greeks at Troy. Show me an FPS franchise that lets me do that, and I’ll show you an FPS franchise that will endure (no matter how often we roll our eyes at its blunders).
“Reports of Call of Duty’s demise have been quite exaggerated,” Forbes assessed in December. Forbes, the magazine about wealth and influence, may not care as much about the aesthetic quality of the franchise, but numbers do not lie. They would not continue making titles if fans weren’t still gobbling them up by the millions. And those millions are not in a steady slope downwards—on the contrary.
Now, whether the franchise will fully usurp Counterstrike as the leading esports FPS again will remain to be seen. But what we know for certain is that the Battle(front) rages on.