If there is one guarantee in this world, it is that Call of Duty will always be there. Year after year, Activision will make sure a new installment ships. Which is reassuring, when you think about it. It is comforting to know that our shooter needs will always be met, even if some decide to criticize that by saying the games all look and play alike. But if that were true, Call of Duty would never become the force that it is. There is just too much to it.
A big reason why Call of Duty continues to thrive is because it occupies a much needed space. Some people really love first-person shooters. That’s great! But, while this is one of the major genres out there, it isn’t like there are a ton of series regularly delivering new installments. We see tons of action games, platformers, and RPGs every year. But FPS tends to get shoved in the shooter genre as a whole, and it is a space where that’s only one sort of element. There’s something to be said for having a reliably good staple.
Another reason why Call of Duty will always succeed is because it doesn’t have time to stagnate. Each year, we get something different. Sure, there are subseries in there. We have things like Black Ops, Modern Warfare, and the World War II entries. But there’s this sense of diversity. You didn’t like the 2017 installment? Maybe the 2018 will be for you. It keeps going like that.
Speaking of there always being something different, there’s always another developer to turn to. Instead of one studio always toiling and grinding on the game, Activision has multiple companies working on them. This isn’t to say there isn’t grind, as people probably work incredibly hard each year on these Call of Duty games. Just that Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games, and Treyarch each have their own signature styles, which people might appreciate, and that carries over to bring them in.
There’s also the multiplayer. Each Call of Duty game has its own feel to it and something that can help set its multiplayer experience apart. That, in turn, could keep an installment alive long after its “year” was over. For example, Black Ops 4 is the first entry with a battle royale mode: Blackout. Obviously, people are going to stick around there for a while, because no other Call of Duty game offers a comparable experience. But, Blackout aside, each game has its own take on the competitive elements, which helps keep them relevant and playable.
We also have to consider the support for current Call of Duty games. Namely, what is going on with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. There are no more season passes. Instead, we have new seasons and battle passes that give people access to free maps and modes and a 1,000 COD Point ($10) battle pass. This gives people different rewards for hitting certain tiers and completing challenges. There are 73 paid tiers, giving people skins, stickers, calling cards, and weapon charms. Notice those are all cosmetic items, so pay don’t get a competitive edge. As for the free part of the Battle Pass, 23 tiers can be accessed by everyone! Those give them two weapons.
Call of Duty games may get flack for having yearly iterations. People might joke about them all looking alike. However, they each have depth and nuance to them. They’re major releases that attempt to do something different within their same sphere each year. People love these titles for a reason, and they deserve a lot of credit for continuing to deliver something special for fans year after year. Kudos to COD!