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Is Modern Warfare 3 good for video games?

"Hey Sam, the game from this commercial will make more money than any of our movies ever will. Yep, even Avatar, sorry man"

775 million dollars in five days.  3.3 million different people played it on one day just over Xbox Live.  People I know buying cases of Mountain Dew just for the double experience points in the multiplayer…..THEY DON’T EVEN DRINK MOUNTAIN DEW.  Apparently it’s even causing the Louisville college football team to lose games (yes, seriously).  It’s Modern Warfare 3.  I’m having trouble deciding how I feel about it.  As a gamer, I love innovation.  I love seeing things done that I haven’t seen before.  I say that, but then I think about the games I’ve most recently played.  Consider this list:  Dark Souls, Batman: Arkham City, Modern Warfare 3, Gears of War 3, Uncharted 3, and I just picked up Assassins Creed: Revelations.  Fine games, all of them.  And all of them a sequel of some kind.  Is that what the gaming public wants?  Is it what I want?

One doesn’t need to look any further than the user reviews on Metacritic to see how polarizing Call of Duty has become.  3.2 user review score on Xbox.  What I find fascinating isn’t the number of zeros it’s received.  It’s the internet and Call of Duty is THE biggest thing ever, so people are going to hate on it.  The fascinating thing is reviews that begin like this one, by a poster named Dolar, who gave the game a 0/10; “Been playing all night.”  Now, I give this guy credit.  I’m sure there are a good number of user reviews from people who haven’t played the game for one second.  He bought the game, he played it, and he hated it.  That’s fair.  Fascinating is….HE BOUGHT IT.  Not too sound harsh, but at this point I know exactly what I’m getting with a CoD game.  Incremental improvements, slick frame rates, and a robust multiplayer suite that is very similar to the last one.

CoD multiplayer in action. It's going to look exactly like this until it stops breaking sales records.

I question those who are buying the game expecting it to be something vastly different from what has come before it.  Infinity Ward, who made the original Modern Warfare that started this whole craze, did do something exciting and different back when that game came out.  The multiplayer was fresh and new, with a persistent leveling system that clearly struck a nerve with gamers.  It’s that multiplayer style and leveling that has been carried over to each of the subsequent Call of Duty games, and it’s why even people who give the game a zero are still forking over their money to play it.  I certainly don’t blame Activision or Infinity Ward (what’s left of them…the founders left amidst a controversial lawsuit along with many of the original team that worked on the CoD games) for doing what they’re doing.  They’re a business and they want to make money.  Modern Warfare 2 set sales records, Black Ops broke those records, and now Modern Warfare 3 is raising the bar again.  We as consumers send a message with what we’re buying.  And our message to Activision is clear:  If you release a Call of Duty game we are going to buy it.  I’m not saying they don’t want to create something new.  In fact, I would argue that Call of Duty is probably going to let them create something new since they’ll be rolling in so much money they can afford to take a risk.  I hope that happens.  But it would be silly for them to overhaul their cash cow.

If my cat is any indication, NOTHING would have a good user review on Metacritic. She hates EVERYTHING.

So is this good for gaming?  Is Modern Warfare 3 a blight on the industry or are the astronomical sales numbers driving the whole thing forward?  I consider it a good thing.  It’s a gateway game.  It’s making console owners out of people who would never touch them before.  I’ve been a gamer since I was six.  Never before has my hobby been so accepted and part of the mainstream culture.  I say this not because I want to fit in or feel justified in the time I spend with games.  I say it because I want more people to realize that gaming is FUN.  I know the feeling well of getting sucked into a game.  Now, playing Dark souls for six hours straight is a very different experience than playing CoD for the same time.  But at the core, they’re the same thing.  Look at the list I started this article with again.  I enjoyed/am enjoying the hell out of all of those games.  I would never think that applies to everybody.  But my point is:  There a ton of games coming out, sequels or not.  Graphics, animations, voice acting, multiplayer, story, sound, in my opinion the average quality of all of those things is going up, taking gaming as a whole.  That will continue to happen as the industry gets bigger, which is a great thing for all of us who play games.    So to all of those who hate Call of Duty just because the game hasn’t changed much I say this:  Don’t expect Call of Duty to reinvent the wheel.  It’s too busy keeping it turning.

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One Response

  1. I have mixed feelings about CoD as well. I’ve played MW2 and BO, and found them to be…okay. That’s all. Just okay. This is simply because military shooters are just not my thing. I won’t hold it against someone for playing it, but neither do I think it deserves all the praise it gets from reviewers. The point is that it shouldn’t be the divider that it’s become. (I actually state my thoughts on this more completely in a post I recently made in my own blog: vg2caps.wordpress.com)

    Anyway, I like this post. I hadn’t considered that all the money coming in from the franchise could actually be helping to drive the creation of new IPs. Thanks for sharing that perspective, it’s given me something to think about.

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