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How does Activision do it?


That question has been circling my mind a lot recently. I cannot, for the life of me, understand how Activision continually manages to sell the Call of Duty games in such high quantities. It absolutely boggles my mind. I will not claim to be an expert in any kind of first-person shooter, but from where I'm sitting, there appear to be no major differences in gameplay between the COD's whatsoever. Also considering the Call of Duty games are not particularly known for their engaging characters, or riveting soundtracks, it justifiably begs the question...HOW THE HELL DO CALL OF DUTY GAMES SELL SO FREAKIN WELL!?!?!?

The numbers don't lie: Call of Duty is one of the biggest game series' in history. According to a report from Activision, Call of Duty Black Ops II earned more than $1 billion dollars in revenue over 15 days. To put that into perspective, the James Cameron movie Avatar earned $1 billion in 17 days. That's right folks: Call of Duty Black Ops II is on pace to out-sell the highest grossing film of all time. This isn't the first time a COD game has sold in staggering numbers. Let's look at it chronologically. According to Daniel Terdiman of cnet, Activision reported that Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 sold $310 million within the first 24 hours of release, a single day sales record. It would go on to earn a total of $550 million worldwide 4 days later. The International Business Times wrote that Call of Duty Black Ops sold $650 million worldwide in 5 days, another sales record. G4's The Feed reported that Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 earned sold $775 million in 5 days, YET. ANOTHER. RECORD. Which, of course, brings us back to Call of Duty Black Ops II, which just slapped the movie industry clean in the face with the proverbial phallic hot dog.

I will not say that Call of Duty games aren't fun. It's difficult to resist the alluring pleasure of blowing some poor sap's head off with an AK. Multiplayer first person shooters are always hits at a party, and online play is as addicting as a cocaine-laced sleeve of ritz crackers. What astonishes me, though, is that none of these features are additions that the game previous lacked. Every single Call of Duty game has that pleasure of shooting things, and fun multiplayer combat, and online battles galore. I'm not kidding here, THEY ALL HAVE THEM.

In my search for some semblance of a reason why Call of Duty games would sell, I looked to many professional reviewers for answers. After inspection of numerous sources such as IGN, gamespot, and even our own backyard of destructoid, here's a summary of what I found...The stories have spectacular moments, but are short and somewhat far fetched. While I will admit that I have played some Call of Duty campaign modes, and that they typically were good, there's only so many increments of $60 that throwing a knife into a douchebag's eye slo-mo will make me spend. Innovations are cool, but they're usually smaller things that don't quite alter gameplay. Some of the marquis features were Modern Warfare 2's Spec Ops mode (more or less like any other game's special missions section), Black Ops' video highlight feature (found years earlier in Halo 3), and new maps for Zombies matches. Additionally, none of the soundtracks were particularly touted as greats.

At times reading these reviews, I felt what I had been feeling from the series anyway: I'm seeing the same old. Some reviewers literally acknowledged that the games had the same strengths and flaws as per usual. It seems like they take the same basic game, put it in different make-up, ship it out, and get their next hundred million dollar hit. I've talked to personal friends who love Call of Duty games, and they even admit to me that its the same game in a different package. And the buy it ANYWAY!

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Call of Duty games aren't fun. They definitely have the potential to be VERY entertaining. But I see almost no differences between these games. I'm not going to go out to stores and pay for Mass Effect 3 through 9 if they're all basically Mass Effect 3 with different color schemes and different hairstyles for Commander Shepard, no matter how good Mass Effect 3 was. I have seen professional reviewers and common gaming folk alike rant and rave about how fantastic the Call of Duty franchise is, while at the same time basically admitting that they're paying for the same thing over and over. Not to mention, the franchise dropped their focus on melding real history with action, in favor of the glamorous Hollywood approach they now take. To be fair, that's more of a personal problem since I am a history buff, but nonetheless, it remains.....HOW THE F&#% DO YOU DO IT ACTIVISION!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

The only answer I can think of is a major issue with not only video games today, but technology as a whole. We are in a society where attention spans are shorter than the time it will take you to finish this sentence. BOOM! Just like that, you're probably staring off at some hot chick on google images, or wondering where you want to go out to eat tonight. Attention is a dying concept, and that is carrying over into the world of technology. Ipods, phones, and the like are out-of-date within a year. There is already, yes this is actually real, an Ipad 2...You see my point? We are now living in a society where our appetites for the next generation are black holes, and we don't have the attention spans to appreciate what was just put in front of us anymore.

Video games are absolutely no exception to this rule. Call of Duty games are so easily able to sell despite their marginal changes because the second the new game is announced, the old one becomes obsolete. Suddenly, everyone wants to play that new COD game, and people who still play the last one are "so stupid" *obnoxiously caricatured laugh*. The online servers for the last game become barren wastelands, and people almost have to buy the new game just to maintain the online gaming experience with their friends they've come to love so much. This prevailing idea of "out with the old, in with the new" has gotten out of hand, and allows just this sort of phenomenon to happen. Unless, of course, there is just some x-factor I completely overlooked and cannot see with the magnifying glass I've tried to use in writing this.

So I kind of just took the most popular game franchise in the world right now, and tore it a new one.....People will be mad, won't they?...By all means, tell me if I've missed something, because I genuinely have no concrete idea of what the deal is. No matter how you feel about it, thanks for reading once again! And as your reward, please kindly accept this swag duck. See you all next time.

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About ThisIsTheUltimateone of us since 6:42 PM on 04.24.2012

I'm just a guy...who likes video games...and wants to troll his friend who writes here. He wants to write for a big time site, and so it is my obligation to troll the shit out of him by making a blog of my own. And who doesn't love a troll?.....Don't answer that.