Click on any news article or video discussing Call of Duty in any sort of manner and there will probably be some level of hate for the franchise expressed in the comment section.
Despite still being one of the most popular video game series of all time and breaking a load of sales records since its inception in 2003, Call of Duty has also grown to become one of the most reviled franchises within the gaming community.
The somewhat polarised response to the first beta period for #CallofDutyWW2 (which went live on #PlayStation4 last week), with some suggesting that it provides everything that fans of the series want in a Call of Duty game and others inferring that WW2 is the same regurgitated nonsense, has got me thinking about all of the hate the franchise gets and whether it is legitimate.
So, Why Do Gamers Hate Call of Duty?
In an attempt to answer this question, I found a few commonly stated reasons that often come up when people argue against the Call of Duty franchise. As there were many reasons available, I decided to narrow this list down to five of the most popular points.
1. The Same Game With A Different Skin
Many feel that Activision’s annualised release schedule has resulted in a situation in which very little innovation is being introduced with each installment, with only very incremental changes being made with each new entry.
One particular area of complaint is that #Activision has not taken the time to fully re-build an engine for newer games, which has in turn resulted in gameplay limitations, and has ultimately led to the popular feeling that the same game is being regurgitated each year.
Perhaps a very good manner in which to explain this overall idea would be to ask the question: what is the difference between Advanced Warfare, Black Ops III and Infinite Warfare?
Each game is set in the far future, makes use of boot jump and slide mechanics and contains a version of the ever-popular Zombies mode. It would be very easy to suggest that all three of these games provide a rather similar experience.
Had Activision chosen to release Ghosts and then only Infinite Warfare, people would not really be making these claims, but who knows? Perhaps without the boost mechanic many would feel that Infinite Warfare is a newer version of Ghosts as well.
However, regardless of these feelings (and declining sales), each Call of Duty entry has been the top-selling game each year since 2009, with the exception of 2013 when GTA V outsold Ghosts.
The overreaching popularity of the series does bring us to the next point related to the annualised release schedule.
2. Call of Duty Popularised The Annualised Release Schedule
Many feel that the biggest problem with annualised release schedules is that they lead to market saturation, with titles that lack innovation and, in turn, stagnate the development of the industry.
An example of this is the fact that despite many people feeling that each Call of Duty title is the same, it is still the highest selling game each year; perhaps, in turn, taking away sales from other more innovative titles in the same genre (as many feel was the case with Titanfall 2 last year) or even leading to cases in which developers purposely make their games similar to that of a popular annualised series in an attempt to emulate its success (for example, modern open world games and the supposed ‘Ubisoft-model’).
Some believe that Activision’s success with the annualised model has led to other publishers attempting to employ similar release strategies with their popular franchises (probably, the most notable example being that of Ubisoft and the #AssassinsCreed franchise) but this is a rather debatable notion.
It is important to note that Call of Duty was not the first series to employ a yearly release schedule, with sports games such as Madden and FIFA employing such schedules for years before the Call of Duty franchise was even created.
3. The Community
The Call of Duty community has had somewhat of a negative reputation for quite some time, with public lobbies becoming known as an area where you can find out about your dear mother’s sexual perversions.
Jokes aside, it is almost difficult to find a person who has played Call of Duty who hasn’t encountered a person screaming into their mic about an unfair death, making lewd disrespectful comments to another player or playing annoying music in public chat.
I don’t think anyone expects to have a conversation about the economic needs of third world countries in the chat of a public lobby within an #FPS game, but many do feel that it would be nice not to hear some teenager getting reprimanded for evading their homework.
4. It's Too Easy
The idea of Call of Duty games being too easy is something that comes up quite often, especially when people begin to compare the franchise to the other biggest war-themed FPS offering on the market: Battlefield.
While it is definitely easy to grasp the nature of gameplay in Call of Duty and get multitudes of kills in a quick fashion with kill streaks, it is ultimately the accessible nature of the gameplay that probably makes the franchise so appealing to so many people.
One the most popular online games at the moment, Overwatch, also gets a lot of criticism for being too easy, but a lot of people acknowledge the fact that it is the title’s easy to adopt nature that has made it the juggernaut that it is today.
While games that are easy may prove to appeal to large numbers of people, there will always be those who desire a more challenging online experience.
5. The 'Cool To Hate' Mentality
Ultimately, we live in a society where things that are popular will at some or other time receive hate due to the fact that it is simply very popular; this is not just limited to Call of Duty or even video games in general.
There are probably many people out there who have not ever played a Call of Duty game or haven’t played one in many years, but still comment negatively on the franchise because it has become the socially accepted thing to do.
There are legitimate reasons as to why somebody may not really like the franchise (as just provided), but there are probably some people out there who spread hate for the franchise because they would like to see their comment get those upvotes.
Is It Right For The Gaming Community To Hate Call of Duty?
If you enjoy playing the game, who is anybody to tell you to stop enjoying it due to their own beliefs and ideals?
Ultimately, every person needs to make up their own decision with regards to whether they dislike something or not.
Personally, I don’t hate the Call of Duty franchise. In fact, I’ve probably had some of my favourite online experiences with some of the titles in the series. I won’t say that I’ve ever had as much love for the series as I did prior to the release of Black Ops 2, but I will say that I don’t hate it.
It is rather disappointing that it has grown into a series that lacks innovation, but if the positive remarks with regards to the WW2 beta are to be believed, it may actually seem that Activision and Sledgehammer Games have listened to fans of the series and are trying to create the best game possible.
Whether or not they succeed in this endeavour remains to be seen. One can only hope.
What is your opinion on the Call of Duty series? Do you like it? Do you hate it? Please share in the comments down below.