Is Call of Duty Really One of the Greatest Franchises in History?

It's arguably the most popular video games series ever but is popularity good enough?

It’s arguably the most popular video games series ever but is popularity good enough?

It’s one of the most popular – if not the most popular – video game franchises in history and at the same time, it’s also one of the most maligned IPs in existence. This dichotomy is what makes the legendary Call of Duty franchise so compelling.

But is “legendary” the correct adjective? Numbers-wise, it is indeed a fitting term, as CoD has broken and still holds numerous sales records, both domestic and worldwide. Of course, when you use a term like “legendary,” many gamers will say you must also consider the quality of the titles in question, and that’s when things start getting sticky. As a series, Activision’s blockbuster can’t claim the kind of critical reception received by the likes of other all-time contenders like Mario, Grand Theft AutoUnchartedMetal Gear SolidZeldaGod of War, etc.

If you consider the review tallies over the years, Call of Duty doesn’t appear to be especially impressive. What you might notice, however, is how certain installments – like the first Modern Warfare – have fared much better than others. Many will point toward 2013’s Call of Duty: Ghosts as being the low point of the series, but don’t forget that previous entries scored similarly, including the Black Ops efforts. Typically, when we think of “the greatest,” we’re thinking of average scores of 9+, and we expect those great franchises to maintain that average.

Therefore, strictly from a statistics standpoint, it doesn’t appear as if CoD could be listed as one of the best franchises in history. But there are extenuating circumstances, aren’t there? For instance, the fans will quickly remind us that this franchise is a pioneer in the realm of online multiplayer, which has since moved on to dominate the industry. The reason millions play it isn’t because they’re brainwashed or simply coerced by Activision’s huge marketing campaign; the reason so many play is because it’s often head-and-shoulders ahead of any other multiplayer experience.

And many critics would actually agree, as the consensus is that if a reviewer issued a score based only on the multiplayer, CoD would have a 9+ average. It’s almost always the campaign that lowers the overall score, correct? The other extenuating circumstance might be bias on the part of critics as well. It got to be so hip to hate on the franchise that many accuse critics of unfair assessments.  It has been known to happen before; i.e., critics just trying to get attention by using a review as a personal soapbox, or trying to get traffic by issuing a poor review of a massively popular product.

In the end, it might be hard to say if Call of Duty is one of the best ever. We might have to accept that there are millions who will staunchly say “yes, of course” while millions of others who, just as staunchly, respond, “no, of course not.”

5 thoughts on “Is Call of Duty Really One of the Greatest Franchises in History?”

Never cared much for Call of Duty but I can’t understand how someone would say it isn’t one of the best ever. What it did for multiplayer gaming alone qualifies it as such.

True. I just don’t care about multiplayer. 😉

Popularity should factor in to the discussion anyway. If we dont think of that, we’re forgetting that this is all about the consumers and fans. If they don’t like it, how can we say it’s really “great?” It has to appeal to people to be great, doesn’t it?

It qualifies based on what it did for the multiplayer space and that’s it. It doesn’t qualify for my list because the single-player just isn’t good enough IMO.

Eh, I suppose. CoD represents the turning point in the industry when mainstream/casual started to dominate, so for that, it’ll always be on my shit list.

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