Call Of Duty The Star Wars Of This Generation? Let’s Review The Evidence
Speaking to IGN recently newly appointed Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg has compared the Call Of Duty franchise to Star Wars saying, “The Call of Duty franchise is a force of nature. I think it is the closest thing this generation has to a Star Wars. I think it’s unique and bigger than any musical act or any movie franchise in that capacity.”
He thinks it’s the closest, but how close? We review the evidence to find out.
Boxoffice – If we take the cinema releases without DVD or Blu-ray sales and compare them to the money made by the Call Of Duty franchise according to the most recent estimates then COD is actually a little short at the moment. According to The-Numbers.com the Star Wars films have made a collective total of $4,411,410,761 (approx. £2.9 billion), with the highest grossing single film being Phantom Menace that made just short of $1 billion. Call Of Duty according to Activision late last year had made a total of $3 billion worldwide, but that should be more like $3.5 billion once you add on additional sales from Modern Warfare 2. It’s getting close though and one more game could tip Activision over the top of LucasFilm. Close?: Getting There, but not if you include DVD sales
Fan base – We’re just going to give this one a straight no. Call Of Duty is clearly very popular with extraordinary sales figures, but there is no fan base more devoted and passionate about their products than the Star Wars crowd. Need proof? Then check out Comic-Con and count up how many people you see in Star Wars related costumes compared to Call Of Duty ones. Having said that, Star Wars has a head start on COD of about 26 years with a media empire that spreads far beyond the seven theatrical releases (we’re including the Clone Wars animated film). Close?: Not at all, but perhaps one day
Characters – One of the key reasons for Star Wars success is its huge catalogue of characters, each of whom has their own group of fans. Boba Fett, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Greedo, Ackbar and so many more. There’s not one character in the COD franchise to date who has half the intrigue or personality of any of these guys. ‘Soap’ MacTavish might be able to make a claim, but since recurring characters in the series are fleeting at best this is an area COD will always struggle in. Close?: No, and not likely to get closer
Pop-philosophical messages – Don’t knock this aspect of Star Wars’ popularity. The philosophy of the Jedi versus that of the Sith is something that has attracted a lot of people. It’s a similar level of philosophy that made The Matrix so interesting. It’s all quite simple, but we wouldn’t knock that. Getting people to think about the nature and motivations of their lives is no easy task and that Star Wars has managed to do that for generation after generation is impressive. Call Of Duty’s only lasting impression on us has been a distrust of US military leaders and hating tanks (too unreliable). Close?: We don’t think so, but we could be missing something.
Cool Toys – Lightsabers vs M4 Carbines? Well, in reality we would probably rather have the gun, but since we’re in fictional franchise world is there anybody who wouldn’t take the lightsaber? Being a military shooter limited somewhat by reality, Call Of Duty simply doesn’t have the scope for iconic paraphernalia like that. Close?: No way
Final Verdict: When I started thinking about this idea I thought I would poke a little fun at the idea that COD was anywhere near close to Star Wars as a franchise, but actually it’s much closer than I would have thought, especially in earnings. Baring its lack of stand-out characters, lasting themes and cool gear Activision’s new CEO could be onto something. Closest thing to Star Wars this generation? Close, but still not close enough.