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Modern Warfare 2 as big as GTA?

Modern Warfare 2 as big as GTA?

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I love gaming events. That is, to say, game releases that are so big that they can be classified as events. It’s a select club: a new Halo game, for example, could be classified as an event. Or something with Mario in it – as long as it’s part of the lineage of Super Mario World, Mario 64, Mario Galaxy – would also count. And, of course, there’s the GTA franchise. This, I would argue, stands head and shoulders above even Mario and the Master Chief in the ‘event gaming’ stakes.

I would say that for a game to reach these kind of levels of popularity, they would have to enter not only the psyche of your average gamer but also make the near-impossible leap into the mainstream. But what does that mean, exactly? I think it’s simple: you know a game has hit the big time when it’s referenced in The Simpsons or when a Chelsea footballer name-drops in a post-match interview.

The latest pretender to the crown, as it were, is Call Of Duty or, in its newly streamlined form, Modern Warfare 2. The Call Of Duty franchise has been known to the hardcore gamer for years – the first game took the WWII shooter to new levels, thanks a lot to the work of ex-Medal Of Honor developers, the game which it supplanted.

But it wasn’t until Call Of Duty 3 came along that we saw the first signs of it entering the mainstream. Premiership footballers could be seen incorporating it into their goal celebrations; famously the Man United and Chelsea players would play it online. Then with the first Modern Warfare game, it really took off. Just off the top of my head, I can think of mentions on American chat shows, the US version of The Office, an appearence on Family Guy (where Jesus plays the game), more talk from Prem footballers and droning from Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles about it and a reference to “Call Of Doody 4” in Micky Rourke’s The Wrestler. I think it’s fair to say that it has well and truly hit the big time.

You could argue that it’s even surpassed GTA in the event stakes. When was GTA last referenced in a movie? And do you ever remember Stevie G mimicking Nico Bellic after he slotted home against Man U? No, but then Call Of Duty wasn’t used by The Times to publicise its new look. GTA IV was.

Modern Warfare 2 will no doubt sell 10 Million copies worldwide even without the massive marketing spend that Activision no doubt has planned for it. This game has become so big that it can even afford to drop the Call Of Duty moniker. Or can it? It’s a brave move by Activision and if it’s successful, then it’ll prove just how strong the Call Of Duty brand has become.




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