Call of Duty
Call of Duty is a first-person shooter video game franchise created by Ben Chichoskiand published by Activision. The original game was created and released for PC, but it has since grown to include other gaming platforms, such as Microsoft's Xbox and Sony's PlayStation. The two main developers of the Call of Duty series are Infinity Ward and Treyarch. Two other studios were later added to create their own Call of Duty titles, Raven Studios and Sledgehammer Games, to help lengthen the development cycle for each project. There are also other minor developers which help create individual aspects of the game, such as the campaign and multiplayer modes. There are fifteen Call of Duty games that have been released to the market. Activision released its fifteenth installation of the game, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, in October 2018. As of February 2016, the entirety of the Call of Duty series has sold over 250 million copies with sales of US$15 billion.   Like many first-person shooter games, Call of Duty incorporates a significant amount of violence, and the game has experienced some ethical backlash as a result.
- 1 Series information
- 2 Ethical Implications
- 3 See Also
- 4 External Links
- 5 References
The Call of Duty series is divided into three main parts: the World War II series (Call of Duty, Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 3, Call of Duty WWII), The Black Ops Series (Call of Duty: Black Ops, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII), and the Modern Warfare series. Some recent game releases fail to fall into these main series. Call of Duty: Ghosts, Call of Duty: Infinite Warefare, and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare are all standalone games that are set in the future and include advanced technologies such as jet packs. Early Call of Duty titles took place during World War II for the most part, with Call of Duty: Black Ops taking place during the Cold War. The Modern Warfare titles takes place in a more modern setting, as the title suggests, where the main playable characters chase down a terrorist named Makarov, who is obsessed with inciting world war. During the release of Modern Warfare 3, Makarov succeeds in inciting international conflict, and the game is a stark representation of what World War III could be in modern times. Call of Duty gameplay includes various guns, grenades, and other weapons depending on game mode and level. The Modern Warfare series has more modernized weapons than the older Call of Duty games set during World War II. In one of the previous installments, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, takes place in the year 2025, and features futuristic, high-tech weaponry and drones.
Aside from the first Call of Duty, which was released in October 2003, Activision has since released a new Call of Duty each year in November beginning in 2005. There have been many complaints that developers use this annual release strategy to lure customers into purchasing a new game every year, while the actual gameplay of each new version remains largely the same. However, the success of recent releases, such as Call of Duty: Black Ops II, shows that their marketing strategy is still successful, even if debated.
Shortly after the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, the total sales of the Call of Duty series exceeded 55 million copies worldwide, equating to roughly three billion dollars in revenue. Over the past few years, the Call of Duty series has set revenue records with each game iteration it has released. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 brought in $550 million in the first five days after release; Call of Duty: Black Ops generated $650 million in its first five days; and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 broke the record again, grossing $775 million in its first five days. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 raised the bar by generating $500 million in its first 24 hours and $1 billion after fifteen days on the shelves.ref>Tassi, Paul. Black Ops 2 Sales. 5 December 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2012. </ref>
Call of Duty Elite
Along with the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Beachhead Studios developed and released Call of Duty: Elite, an online service which allows users to track online statistics along with many other features of their gameplay. This online service is free to use by anyone, but also offers an option for a paid subscription for those who wish to have even more features. Some of the highlights of Call of Duty: Elite include their multiple-game stats tracking, bonus game content, and social networking features. Users that pay for the "premium" package ($49.99 per year) get the following bonus perks: exclusive monthly downloadable content, daily challenges for prizes, clan integration with leveling, professional advice, and Elite TV (allows users to watch videos to improve their gameplay).
The Call of Duty games have been heavily featured in eSports starting in 2006, alongside the release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Over the last few years, the series has grown larger with releases such as Call of Duty: World at War, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, and Call of Duty: Ghosts. These games are represented heavily in leagues like Major League Gaming. Players in the Call of Duty series compete through ladders or tournaments. The ladders are divided into several sub ladders such as singles, doubles, and team ladders featuring (3v3 - 6v6) and hardcore team ladder(3v3 - 6v6). The differences between regular team and hardcore team ladder is a rule differentiation. Winning matches in your respective ladder awards the player with experiences points which add up to give the player their overall rank. These tournaments provide players with the opportunity to compete for cash prizes and trophies. These trophies are registered and saved on the player's profile if/when they win a tournament and the prize money is deposited into his/her bank account.
The most competitively played Call of Duty game was Call of Duty: Ghosts in 2014 with an average of 15,000 teams participating every season. For the last 6 seasons in MLG Call of Duty, Full Sail University has hosted a prize giveaway of $2,500 to the top team each season. The other ladders give out credits and medals that bind to a player's profile. Tournaments hosted on the Call of Duty: Ghosts's arena cost from 15 to 30 credits at an average cost of &18.75 per tournament. If the player competes with a team, the money is divided and each player receives an equal cut. These competitive tournaments are most popular in Europe and North America in which competitive players play these matches daily.
The largest Call of Duty tournament to date was Call of Duty: Experience hosted in 2011, the tournament began when Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was released.
Many parents have expressed their concerns about the Call of Duty series promoting violent behavior among their children. There have also been many concerns regarding the Call of Duty series because of the desensitization that it causes toward violence and killing in those who are exposed to the game at moderate and high levels. In addition, many of the players play the game with the use of a microphone, speaking into it during game-play. Some people utilize this communication feature to perpetuate bigotry and hate. Many of the online platforms offer no active censorship of this speech, which can lead to intense arguments and discriminatory comments. Platforms do however, offer a player self-check system where usernames can be reported and suspended. This establishes some accountability between users because of the looming threat of account punishment.
Modern Warfare 2
Controversies quickly erupted over the "No Russian" level of the game, in which players assume the role of an undercover CIA agent who has joined a group of Russian terrorists. In order to maintain his cover, the CIA agent is encouraged to take part in an airport rampage, which involves machine-gunning down Russian civilians. The objective of this mission is to cause as much mayhem as possible within the airport. Throughout the level, players are presented with many opportunities to kill civilians who have no method of defending themselves from the shootings and extreme violence. Ethical concerns have come up particularly around this inconsequential freedom of players to gun down innocent lives. Although users have the option to skip this mission, developers encourage gamers to play through this mission in order to further the plot of the storyline. It should be noted that it is possible to complete this mission without killing any civilians, however because a non-violent approach is not the focus of the game, this path is overlooked by the majority of players.
Shortly after its release in 2009, Russia announced the banning of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 over the controversial level. On November 10th, Activision announced that sales will resume for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 in Russia with removal of the "No Russian" level.
Modern Warfare 3
Again, in the single player mode of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, there is a controversial scene entitled 'Davis Family Vacation' which involves the death of a child. From the perspective of a home video camera, the player sees a mother and daughter walking down the streets of London, when suddenly, a truck explodes, killing them instantly. The game designers give players the option to skip this scene because of its graphic nature and depiction of innocent civilian deaths.
Black Ops II
Black Ops II contains many ethical implications that deal with futuristic warfare strategies that have proven to be controversial. The single player mode is set in the year 2025, where a terrorist group gains control of U.S. military drones and uses them against the United States. While the story is set in the future, autonomous military drones are being developed and tested today. Currently, many people are opposed to the development of drones because their autonomy raises the risk of civilian casualties and removes direct responsibility from a human operator who conducts the killings. The human emotions attached to the act of killing are particularly removed when flying drones, and accountability is difficult to place on one person when drones do the direct work. The campaign mode illustrates how dangerous these weapons would be when fallen into the wrong hands. However, it also shows the benefits of drones in warfare. Drones can take the place of human soldiers on the battlefield, therefore making it much safer for our soldiers, keeping them out of the direct line of fire. In the multiplayer mode, players can virtually experience this safety. When attacking with guns, players take the risk of getting killed by another player, but when using drones, they can score kills and points without actually risking their own life.
Black Ops III Failed Marketing Ploy
In the weeks leading up to the release of Black Ops III, Activision re-branded their Twitter account to appear like a genuine news organization named 'Current Events Aggregate.' From there, they proceeded to post fictional tweets that appeared to cover a major terrorist attack in Singapore. The account, which has since returned to its original Call of Duty name, included tweets which alluded to massive explosions, the collapse of social order and talks of 'Quarantine Zones' and violence. Although there was not any widespread panic caused by the plot, many viewed it as tasteless and very irresponsible, and even unethical because of the stress and panic it could have led to. It was also noted that the choice of Singapore for the location of these phony attacks was a particularly poor choice considering both the country's past and present struggles with groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah and the so-called Islamic State.
Call of Duty WWII
The latest edition of the franchise, Call of Duty WWII, is concerning in that they provide some historical accuracy and deviation, which makes it difficult for players to tell the difference. This is troubling because it pushes us to question whether or not a historical video game should have any inaccuracy at all, setting a difficult standard for the gaming industry. Gaming critics The Verge remark, "You’re still basically just mowing down virtual human beings in ever-more-elaborate ways". The franchise is using the mask of WWII to sell their product, utilizing historical accuracy where it fits and ramping up the blood, guts, and fictional plot where it doesn't. However, the inclusion of female soldiers and African American soldiers being playable even on the Nazi side can be seen as a poor attempt at inclusion, with many gamers feeling it to be forced and unnecessary.
As video games increase in popularity, their impact on society magnifies. Many believe that video games have transformed from a fun hobby to a full fledged addiction for many players. As of 2018, playing video games in an obsessive manner has the potential to develop into a diagnosis of a mental health disorder, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In 2011, fifteen percent of divorces in the U.S. were attributed to video game addiction to games such as World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and Halo. Video game addicts immerse themselves in their games, even playing for 20 hours straight at times, which can lead to failed relationships and marriages. One Australian man named Okan Kaya, set the world record of playing Call of Duty: Black Ops II for 135 straight hours straight (seven full days) with 10 minute breaks during the session, which seemed to indicate an "extreme" case of addiction. In other scenarios, video games like Call of Duty can cause players to fully immerse themselves in game play, further distracting them from their personal hygiene, societal duties, work, or school.
Call of Duty Online
While the game is often praised for its story mode, the online multiplayer feature is also very popular among Call of Duty players. According to Activision, players spend an average of 340 hours per year on Call Of Duty multiplayer. Many have argued that these games — particularly their multiplayer mode — have a significant impact on gamers and begin to break ethical norms. When a person joins a multiplayer online game of Call of Duty, they are placed into a lobby with other players from around the world. They are split into teams and have certain objectives to complete based on the game mode they choose. The players are able to communicate with one another using microphones, and talk to the other people in their lobby. This ability to communicate with strangers has brought up many issues involving its player base because many of the players fall victim to phishing or to a form of cyberbullying while playing online. Also, there are many reports of racism that occur in the lobbies. A person playing online is only identifiable by their gamertag, making them somewhat anonymous. This sense of anonymity removes potential to be punished and allows players to express discriminatory and disrespectful behavior without any major consequences. The Call of Duty games all allow for players to report others for discriminatory behavior, but many feel as though the game does not take extra steps to punish players for this type of behavior.
Gaming addiction is the playing of video games so much that is has a negative impact on a gamer’s life.  These negative impacts could include anti-social tendencies, prioritizing gaming over other aspects of life and withdrawal when not playing videogames. As of 2018, the World Health Organization has recognized game addiction as a disorder and in response, a variety of tools to help those who are suffering from this recently recognized disease has been established. With its addictive game modes and features, Call of Duty can contribute to the rise of gaming addiction and the increased impact of the addiction such as violent tendencies and anti-social attitudes.
Recent titles have all included controversial microtransactions in the form of loot boxes. Players can pay for cosmetic items that change the way their character or gun works, but doesn't give them a competitive advantage. Microtransactions are present in Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Call of Duty: Ghosts,  Call of Duty: Black Ops III,  Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare,  Call of Duty: WWII,  and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.
Call of Duty's microtransactions have been specifically criticized for various reasons. Primarily, they are usually expensive add-ons to a game that costs $60 in the first place. Additionally, many Call of Duty games are released without these systems implemented. Call of Duty has a history of adding microtransactions a few months after the release of the game, and they are often met with a wave of complaints. These systems also take advantage of the young members of their audience. Not only do lootboxes typically attract children as customers, they teach them to gamble with money that belongs to their parents, resulting in alarming growth rates of childhood gambling addiction . Call of Duty encouraging game and gambling addictions in their youth audience is alarming and disgusting, but the companies in charge of the series seem to have no desire to stop their practices any time soon.