In the past couple of weeks, two titles from two of the most successful western first-person shooter franchises were announced. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (with an HD remaster of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare included in certain special editions) and Battlefield 1 (as in, Battlefield in a World War 1 setting, not a remake of the original Battlefield 1942) were announced within four days of one another, on May 2nd and May 6th, respectively. Call of Duty, published by Activision, is one of the most successful video game franchises there is. Call of Duty games have topped the year-end sales charts for each year since 2009 (except for 2013, in which Grand Theft Auto V sold more). Infinite Warfare is going to take place in the far future, where space travel has become possible. Battlefield was Electronic Arts’ (EA) response to it, and it has gradually built itself up as CoD’s rival. Both franchises sold a comfortable 1 or 2 million copies worth of their first few entries, but CoD really took off in 2007 with CoD 4: Modern Warfare. The Modern Warfare trilogy remains the most lucrative set of CoD games, and older fans consider them to be the best. Battlefield’s sales numbers started moving up after 2007 as well, but it took until Battlefield 3’s launch in 2011 for the series to finally replicate modern “Call of Duty numbers”. It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that the two franchises are actively competing against one another, with arguments between fans raging constantly online. Battlefield developer, Dice, and its publisher, EA, have both encouraged the debates themselves by taking shots at CoD. Sides have been taken, and if you are not for one side, then you are against it.
I don’t particularly care about either franchise. My interests don’t lie in the territories that these two game series cover. They are both first-person shooters with prominent multiplayer components, and I don’t care about most games with all of those those labels. I do like some first-person games, some shooters, a small handful of first-person shooters, and the competitive genre of fighting games, but I have refused time and time again to get into these particular series despite their popularity. The AAA industry (“AAA” being a loose label applied to games with large marketing budgets) has some unsavoury practices involving fishing for pre-orders before a game’s full launch content and quality has become known, and frequently utilizing downloadable content to gain more money after a game launches and is bought. Activision and EA are both notable participants in this culture, with EA having built up an almost legendary reputation for doing anything to sap as much money as possible from its customers. This industry can be found globally; these two western companies just happen to represent it well.
So, why am I writing this article if I’m not invested in the subject matter? Because something about these game reveals has caught my attention, and it’s not the trailers themselves (I haven’t actually seen the full, unedited versions of either of the reveal trailers). The interesting part of this is how the online community, particularly the YouTube community, has reacted to these two trailers. As of this writing, the official CoD:IW YouTube trailer has 21,234,579 views, 359,086 likes, and 2,177,487 dislikes. Meanwhile, the official Battlefield 1 trailer has 30,070,579 views, 1,541,684 likes, and 27,696 dislikes. To summarize these statistics, the normally less popular Battlefield has received several million more views than CoD, and has more likes and less dislikes than it as well. Even more interesting is that Battlefield has less dislikes than CoD has likes, and three quarters as many likes as CoD has dislikes. This phenomenon deserves some research.
First, let’s review some statistics about the new Call of Duty game and its trailer. CoD’s trailer runs for 3 minutes and 24 seconds. It is coming out on November 4th, 2016. CoD Modern Warfare Remastered is about $19.99 American, in addition to the $59.99 American of Infinite Warfare. At the moment, the remaster is only available by pre-ordering the Legacy Edition or the Digital Deluxe Edition. However, myself and everyone I’ve heard talking about this subject agree that the remaster will be released as a standalone product relatively quickly. The song used in the trailer was a remix of “Space Oddity” by David Bowie. As of this writing, CoD’s trailer is the second-most disliked video on YouTube.
Now, let’s do the same for Battlefield. Battlefield’s trailer runs for 1 minute and 19 seconds. It is releasing October 21st, 2016, but pre-ordering the Early Enlister Deluxe Edition ($79.99 American, as opposed to the standard $59.99) allows players to start playing on Oct 18th, 2016. The trailer song is “Seven Nation Army”, by The White Stripes (The Glitch Mob Remix). This trailer is within the top 200 liked videos on YouTube, and is the most liked general trailer (not just game trailer, but trailer of any kind) on the site.
So, what caused there to be so much hate for CoD’s trailer, and so much love for Battlefield’s? There are a few likely reasons. The first is the close proximity of the two reveals. The CoD trailer had more dislikes than likes to begin with, but they didn’t really explode until after Battlefield’s trailer was released. That’s fairly obvious. What is less obvious is, again, why this happened. One strong reason that the CoD trailer got so many dislikes on its own was the inclusion of Modern Warfare Remastered in certain special bundles, currently with no way to purchase it as a standalone. CoD 4 is the game that some have called “so good that it ruined all first-person shooters”, as it has what is considered a perfect control scheme for the genre. Most FPS games that came after it directly copied its controls. This has resulted in it becoming the darling of the series. Fans have wanted an updated version of Modern Warfare for years. Now, they have to pay for a game that they may not want to get to it. That’s not great, but hey, what’s an extra $60.00, more or less? The remaster is keeping its old campaign, and comes with 10 multiplayer maps. The screenshots of it have shown new HD assets. This all seems well and good, but there have been concerns that the game may be altered somehow to stay in line with the franchise’s current level of polish. The fans who really want this remaster seem to want all of the original’s rough bits as well as the good bits.
The third, and possibly most significant reason by far, is the setting of the two games. This factor came into play before and after both trailers were released. CoD: Infinite Warfare takes place in a sci-fi setting, with robots, spaceships, and all of the future combat technology you can imagine. This has all been done before. Other game series, such as Halo (formerly Bungie and Microsoft, now 343 Industries and Microsoft), Titanfall (Respawn and EA, with giant robots), and Destiny (Bungie again and Activision… again. Destiny also has space wizards. See where I’m going with this?), have already covered sci-fi about as much as one can without applying particularly bizarre touches. Because CoD lacks much of what made those other games compelling by default (certain mechanics and vehicles, more colourful art styles, etc.), there is really nothing for players to gain by the series making the jump from “future Earth” (which CoD itself has thoroughly covered with Black Ops 3 in 2015) to “future space”. The series is always designed in a very safe and barely changing manner anyways, so no one expects IW to make much use of its setting.
Battlefield 1, however, has earned widespread praise and respect for setting itself in World War 1. Why? Well, to put it bluntly, modern warfare as we know it only started to pop up right at the end of World War 1. Before that magical point, battles were a mess of archaic tactics and new, unreliable weapons that were often just as dangerous to the users as they were to their enemies. WW1 battles were not WW2, Vietnam, or anti-terrorist battles. They were a mess, and very few video games have dared to adapt them. Battlefield 1 will be the most prominent outing into the realm of WW1 in the gaming industry, and could set up a precedent for new, notable games focusing on WW1. Along with some of the improvements to existing features (like restricting certain vehicles to certain classes. For example, a team’s sniper can no longer steal that team’s tank for themselves and drive it up on top of a mountain, where the tank cannot be retrieved) and teases of further surprises (like potential super-units), Battlefield seems to have a recipe for success. Its pre-order bonuses and DLC plans are as disgusting as ever, but the basic game is greatly anticipated. As long as it doesn’t launch in a barely playable state, it should perform quite well. That brings us to one final point in Battlefield’s favour: by visiting an older era that emphasized simple troops-on-the-ground fighting, it has fulfilled the wishes of the older CoD fans who would like to see their franchise go in the same direction. It is instead moving in the opposite direction, earning the fandom’s ire and abandonment.
That is the current situation of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Battlefield 1. For the first time, it appears that Battlefield has a good chance of overtaking CoD’s sales. Of course, knowing the publishers behind these games, there is no telling how qualitative these games will actually be upon launch. However, it is reasonable to assume that they will both sell over five million copies, simply based on their existing popularity. Admittedly, as little as I care about these games and their genres, Battlefield’s World War 1 setting has actually caught my attention, which lead to me watching the following historical analysis of its trailer by the YouTube channel The Great War. It was very interesting, and made me appreciate how controlled the content present in the trailer was. Almost everything that the soldiers in the trailer were wearing was included to hint at content in the game. I still haven’t watched the original trailer yet (nor do I intend to), but I have been convinced to keep an eye open for further news about the game. I still don’t care about Call of Duty.
What I do care about, however, is the feeling of filthiness that has settled in after looking at so much AAA western FPS information. Yuck.
Battlefield 1 Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7nRTF2SowQ
Battlefield 1 Historical Trailer Analysis I THE GREAT WAR Special: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvzEZ1Sq4tI
Battlefield. (2016, May 7). Retrieved May 14, 2016, from http://vgsales.wikia.com/wiki/Battlefield
Call of Duty Franchise Game Sales Statistics. (2015, November 1). Retrieved May 14, 2016, from http://www.statisticbrain.com/call-of-duty-franchise-game-sales-statistics/
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EeF3UTkCoxY
Carter, C. (2016, May 10). Battlefield 1 has the most-liked trailer ever in the shadow of Infinite Warfare failure. Retrieved May 13, 2016, from http://www.destructoid.com/battlefield-1-has-the-most-liked-trailer-ever-in-the-shadow-of-infinite-warfare-failure-360309.phtml
Dougy. (2014, March 29). The top selling video games of each of the past 30 years (Photos). Retrieved May 15, 2016, from http://thechive.com/2014/03/29/the-top-selling-video-games-of-each-of-the-past-30-years-photos/
Morris, C. (2016, January 14). Here Are The Best Selling Video Games of 2015. Retrieved May 15, 2016, from http://fortune.com/2016/01/14/here-are-the-best-selling-video-games-of-2015/
Most Disliked YouTube Videos playlist by MyTop100Videos: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLirAqAtl_h2o1ism1dr5SbvB8Mf7Ve6Aa
Most Liked YouTube Videos playlist by MyTop100Videos: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLirAqAtl_h2pgUWrNiribr7S4NugZiGXx