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Why Do You Hate Call of Duty?

Why Do You Hate Call of Duty?

Modern Warfare 3 is out now. It’s hard not to notice – the reviews, the launch parties, the massive marketing campaign but most of all, the wave of people coming forward let the world know how much they hate Call of Duty. Sure as night follows day, a Call of Duty release means an influx of “I HAET MODERN WARFARE 3 IT R 4 NOOBERZ!!2” spewing and venting.

Want proof? Here’s your proof on Metacritic.

It’s okay to dislike Call of Duty. Of course it is. But that’s not the question here. Think about how angry you get at Call of Duty, at Activision, at this blog, even.  The question here is why do you hate it so much?

“Oh, but the game is played by loud teenage morons!”

The Call of Duty community is notorious for being one of the worst in gaming, if the anecdotal evidence on forums is anything to go by. We’ve run into the culprits online too – the ones who call you gay, swear and sing out of tune all with voices that can’t be a day older than 14. It is annoying. No denying that.

Still, it’s worth thinking about a few things:

1) How many online matches of anything have you had legitimately ruined by someone mouthing off? If you play 100 matches of Call of Duty online, you’ll hear chatter in perhaps 10-20 of those. In those 10-20 matches, maybe half of those will have the swearing, singing, etc. that ruins games. So at most, 9 out of 10 games will be problem free. We’ve plucked those numbers out of the air based on our own experience with Black Ops and we may yet run an experiment with actual numbers to find out how close we are to the amount of ‘ruined’ games but we’re willing to bet we’re not far off.

The amount of hate messages received afterwards are even lower, simply because there isn’t enough time between matches for players to write you a delightful ode to your sexuality, your mum, or however else they want to insult you.

In short: it’s a legit problem but it’s been massively overblown to paint a picture of an online community where every match is full of drooling inbreds who exist only to insult you. Which leads to our next point…

2) Why don’t you just mute people? This isn’t a feature exclusive to Call of Duty, just like online loudmouths aren’t exclusive to Call of Duty. Mute them. It’s a habit everyone should get into. Click on a player’s name, mute them. Problem solved. Why don’t people do this? We do it at the first sign of chatter, let alone discerning whether what they say is actually offensive or not. It’s long been established that Call of Duty isn’t a team game, so you don’t really need to hear what other players are saying. So what’s stopping you from muting them?

3) Other games are played by loudmouth morons. We’ve had loudmouths insulting us in Call of Duty but we’ve also had it in Battlefield, in Street Fighter, in Mortal Kombat, in Homefront, in everything we play. It’s a problem inherent to online gaming, not just to Call of Duty.

“Oh, but Battlefield 3 is better!”

For players who are emotionally invested in Battlefield 3, it’s almost natural for them to lash out against Modern Warfare 3. The two FPS games had been pitted against each other since they were announced and we’d be lying if we said Play hadn’t stoked the fires with our own variants on the Modern Warfare 3 vs Battlefield 3 clash.

Even so, they are DIFFERENT GAMES. Battlefield 3 is a studied, tactical shooter which relies on teamwork and also has more dynamic, varied multiplayer gameplay thanks to its mix of vehicles and classes. Modern Warfare 3, as the complaint commonly goes, ‘is just people running around like their arse is on fire shooting people!’

Er… yeah. It is. Which is what makes it fun, for some people. What’s wrong with that? Why does that make people boil over rage? Why hate Call of Duty for being Call of Duty if that’s what some people want to play?


See how stupid that sounds? Exactly.

“Oh, but it’s exactly the same game every year!”

You could reasonably argue for Modern Warfare 3 making no tangible progress. Activision will point to the fact that the story takes place in different cities, the multiplayer having new modes, everything being made bigger and better (which are fuzzy ‘improvements’ at best). We could point to the fact that there are no genuinely new gameplay mechanics hidden underneath its shiny surface.

Yet Call of Duty 4 did more for reinvention of the FPS genre than any other FPS has done this gen. You can see its influence in other FPS games – slick controls, perks, multiple characters, etc – and its lack of progress since then has been highlighted by the fact that every other FPS has followed in its wake, dating its elements faster than they would have dated had Every Other FPS Under The Sun not used those elements. Even Battlefield 3’s campaign moves away from the strength of its own series to takes cues from Modern Warfare.

Does that mean Call of Duty is right not to progress the genre? No. But name any other FPS that has radically altered the genre in the past few years. Go on. Any. Obviously there are games like Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which has more fresh ideas and originality in its little augmented toe than Call of Duty has in its millions of explosions, and BioShock Infinite looks like it’ll shine through its original design. But what else? Homefront? Battlefield 3? Resistance 3, Killzone 3, GoldenEye: Reloaded, Crysis 2, Duke Nukem Forever? The list is short and there is nowhere near approaching the same level of hatred for those games as there is for Call of Duty.

There’s also a strange hypocrisy at work with the ranting, where people have supposedly rushed out to buy Modern Warfare 3 on day one and then complain it’s exactly the same, they hate it and they’ve traded it in (see the Metacritic reviews). If you loved Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2 enough to buy it on day of release at full price, why do you now hate it if nothing has changed? This isn’t to say that the lack of progress should be applauded or defended. But it is saying that it’s hypocritical to decide you hate something you loved to the point where you’re buying its sequel on day one and then suddenly hating what is ‘the same game’.

Also, if the lack of genuine progress really angers you so much that Call of Duty is the same thing year after year, why not also vent your anger over FIFA 12? Assassin’s Creed: Revelations? Dead Rising 2: Off The Record? Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition? Or even – gasp! – Uncharted 3?

This leads to a bigger argument over innovation in games, generally, which should be saved for another blog. But the quick version is this: people confuse the need for innovation with games needing to feel fresh. That’s why some games get away with a lack of innovation and others don’t. Does Call of Duty feel stale now? To some it will, to others it won’t. But again – that’s different to damning it for a lack of innovation, otherwise we’d all be playing El Shaddai right now. Clearly, that isn’t the case.

“Oh, but it’ll have overpriced DLC!”

So do many games. Call of Duty is NOT the only culprit. That doesn’t mean it should be defended for its excessive DLC prices but that doesn’t mean it should be singled out either.

“Oh, but you have to pay for Call of Duty: Elite!”

No you don’t. And that’s not a reason to BOIL OVER WITH HATRED at Call of Duty. And the game itself doesn’t have an online pass yet either.

“Oh, but they should be playing Deus Ex or Battlefield 3 or Dark Souls or ANYTHING else!”

There is one thing about Call of Duty’s success which is harmful to the games industry (besides games publishers trying to ride its coattails by making their non-CoD games like CoD), it’s that there are millions of gamers buying Call of Duty and nothing else. It’ll be their one big purchase that year which will tide them over

But what will you achieve by shouting about how much Call of Duty sucks, how the players are morons, how it’s a game for morons, morons morons morons? This isn’t going to suddenly turn on a generation of gamers to something else. It’s a horribly elitist attitude to have, not too different to music snobs (“it’s post-hardcore speed metal you IDIOT”).

We could be trying to educate those Call of Duty players about other games out there – about the BioShocks, the Deus Exes, the Portals and the Mass Effects. It doesn’t guarantee they’ll listen, obviously, but it’s more likely to work than shouting out loud about how stupid they are for daring to play a game they like.

So… why DO you hate Call of Duty?

I know that with this blog post, I’ll have prodded the sensitive emotional glands in enough gamers that I’ll probably catch a lot of flak for writing these words. But that’s kind of the point – why does it make you so angry? Why pour so much emotional investment in hating Call of Duty? What is it specifically about Call of Duty you can point to that makes you hate that series above any other? What do you hope to achieve?

It would be great to have a measured discussion about this in the comments section, so fire away.

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  • Dawson

    Hate’s probably a strong word, but working in a games retailer I’ve grown to dread Call of Duty release week. It genuinely brings out the worst, rude and vile of our customer bases, utter cretins. They’re sexist towards some of our staff, they’re impatient, loud, boorish. They’re dismissive of ANY other game you mention for no other reason than it not being COD. You could argue that it’s just a higher volume of customers magnifying the negativity, but the Skyrim launch has been a joy to work, very pleasant people in chatting about a quality game. Same with the Gears 3 midnight launch, when even delays caused by technical issues didn’t dampen the mood. So why does it have to be that way with COD fans?

    Add to that that it’s a franchise that just doesn’t really do anything anymore, other than siphon money and attention away from other games, and I just don’t get the fuss.


    The first mistake you made, Mr King, is thinking that reason and logic can be used on these people.

  • I think it’s now the ridiculously short single player mode. I get that it’s all about the online these days but for gods sake, at least pretend like you care about the campaign mode. It’s all very pretty visually but any more so than Arkham City or Uncharted?!?!

    Anybody would think there was no further £££ to be made in the solo player… Oh wait, I got it now!

  • Joey

    How did ‘Mr King’s” balls taste like G1GAHURTZ?

    It’s bit one sided blog. The CoD “haters” are a minority of PSN users, evident by looking at a FL and seeing that over half are on a CoD game at any given time, so it’s not like it’s a cult game getting flak. The distaste many have for CoD games is the nonsensical mind-set of people buying them for no reason other than it being so popular, with 2nd hand copies of say MW2 from a few years back would be nearly the same price as Skyrim. You just have to ask, why? CoD4 was really a fantastic game but here we are with it’s 3rd remake and what has changed? Could still be playing CoD4 and you wouldn’t see much difference. And yes same can/is said about Fifa games etc and they too fall into the argument but at least Fifa changes more every year and hasn’t such a massive fan-base as super giant CoD does. What people are mad at is that MW3 could be a duke nuke em’-esque heap of shit and it will still sell millions and people will say it’s great while a less-publicised game like Brink, which is very good, gathers dust in a pre-owned bin in Game. It’s the people not the game that are hated, i hope I’ve put my point across well without sounding like a prick (I’m not saying CoD is necessarily bad here) but I just think of it like the music industry. Jay-Lo and Pitbull could sing whatever piece of shit someone writes for them, it’ll always get in the top 10. Just a case of money talks and bullshit walks.

  • Brendan Daly

    I wouldn’t say I hate it having played huge amounts of it since Cod4 and while I still have nothing against it, it just doesn’t interest me anymore with its lack of variety and innovation. What I dislike though are the people Dawson described who play Cod and only Cod and who completely ignore you if you recommend any other game or series.

  • Sid

    you know, i should probably just come clean, and say i’m 12 years old, and i am not a call of duty loud mouth addict. i use a headset but i talk calmy, and co-operate with the rest of my team, if their 5, 15 or 80. and, i play other great games such as the sly trilogy, infamous 2, uncharted 2, and yes, call of duty is not the best game out of those.

    but it is good fun.

  • DO’G

    This article should be posted on every single games forum out there, emailed to every single gamer, becuase your right this whole i hate COD because its the same game year after year. Well hang on isn’t BF3.In BF3 you can use vehciles just like in two you have different classes just like in BF2 and come how many people REALLY work as a team in BF3. BF3 is a tactical squad based BUT how many people really give a s**t about healing?? supporting your team. when i played BF2 about 10% if not less of team were medics. Majority were ever engineers or recon its a joke. With MW3 its just mayhem you start> hunt >kill> points.

    yh i completely agree nothing has changed essentially it IS the same game, BUT if you guys know this why buy it on release.

    agreed @G1GAHURTZ :

  • James H

    Must say I’m a bit like Brendan, I don’t hate it I just find the playing style isn’t really for me – I try to do stupid things like stand still and aim and then get stabbed in the back, which is irritating. If that is the type of player you are then you will find the online mode (which is, as we all know, the main element – and that isn’t a criticism at all) annoying and you won’t enjoy yourself, but don’t buy COD then, just like if you don’t like racing games you shouldn’t buy GT5 and if you don’t like beat-em’-ups you shouldn’t buy Street Fighter 96 or whatever they’re up to (turns out I don’t like beat-em’ ups so don’t buy SF!).

    And actually there are parts of COD/MW3 I really like. I love the spec-ops mode (is it me or is split-screen co-op just not supported enough anymore??) and (shocker) I even enjoyed an online team deathmatch when my mate brought the game around – I ran around like a lunatic, spraying people with an automatic rifle and even managed to stab someone in the back! 19 kills and 9 deaths (normally the other way around), I topped the leader board and really enjoyed myself, although it all went back to normal on the next map!

    It annoys me when people (not just gamers and not just with games) rant at things they don’t like/agree with (the anonymity of the internet has a lot to answer for in this respect). The beauty of life is in its variety, let’s applaud developers for making different things that appeal to different people and let’s applaud them when they do it well. Otherwise we’ll all live in a grey sludge world doing the same things…and I’m rubbish at COD online!

  • DO’G

    agreed @ james H

  • Callum

    I Don’t “Hate” it it’s just I have grown tired of the same formula where as Uncharted is in infancy when it comes to multiplayer and I am not a fan of Dear Rising I am a fan of AC Revelations but I didn’t get it. I think it gets to repetitive because there are always people who will memorise all the maps and sit in corners and ruin all my good Kill streaks and that happened in WAW and Black ops and MW2 and I don’t expect a game made in a year to make major progress in that field and of course there are new game modes like kill confirmed and there are differences but it annoys me that games that have had a lot of work put into it get a 88% and another COD game get 95% when you could save yourself £50 and get MW2 which was very good

  • martin

    I can not understand the discontent here. yes there are online aspects that can be monotonous to endure but that is true of any game. like callum i am a fan of AC but that too can be repetative but the formula works so why change? while theres a market it won’t. i have ps3 and x-box and only have xbox for gears of war. mw3 is a game that attracts a wide audience that is all and to play you need to have a level of tolerance. will we stop moaning and just play them for what they are and enjoy them for what they are: just a game?
    moaning about it is no different than moaning that your grandad has made up a word in scrabble 20 years ago get over it already!!!!

    happy gaming folks

  • jason

    I just dont understand why people hate it so much.while i dont enjoy the online most the time,there is great fun to be had on the offline multiplayer and spec ops with a good group of friends.one story i have of thisis the mission where you have to defuse ieds in a juggernaut suit.my friend was the sniper covering and shot me in the back because he was bored then left me to die at the hands of 20 russians.so in the next round i helped for the firt minute then left him to die at the hands of a chopper.but there still are way better games

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  • bob marley

    I really don’t care for Activision releasing a COD game every year now. A year is not enough time for me to move on to the next game in the series. It is almost as though they are making the games for the purpose of only a single year of play. Maybe I’m just used to waiting two to four years for the next installment in a series. Unfortunately I am forced to purchase the next COD game if I wish to play online with my friends. It is kind of like an annual $60 fee ,plus DLC, to play with my friends online.