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Call of Duty: Defending the Detractors

The Game Informer editors have been posting a lot more opinion pieces lately. Some people are ready to sit about maligning them for their opinions; other people actually bring intelligence to the table when making their case. Regardless, some sort of discussion occurs as a result and that's great. I personally love the opinion features because they present an opportunity to write on a topic that I might not have currently been considering. Hot on the heels of my last response, I have a bone to pick with Dan Ryckert's Defending Call Of Duty piece. Saying that the dislike of the franchise is "entirely unjustified" is just a bit too heavy handed for me. There's another, equally legitimate side to argue here and it happens to be where I stand.

Big Doesn't Equal Bad... But It Also Doesn't Equal Good

While there are indeed people who target popular things when weaving vitriolic forum posts, that doesn't mean they're entirely wrong. The Call of Duty franchise's success certainly does speak to the idea that Activision and company are doing something right, but is that indicative of the quality of the games or something else? Farmville is absurdly successful, but it's also bland and exploitative. I can't speak for everyone or definitively on the topic of an opinion, but it seems to me that Call of Duty might be one of the many ventures that benefits from market penetration over quality. Activision's juggernaut has long since supplanted Halo as the game that every non-gamer has heard of, and that may have just as much to do with its sales as anything else.

We see the same thing in other forms of entertainment, it's really nothing new. Consider the Micheal Bay Transformers trilogy. I'd gladly put money on the table if someone bet me that there was anyone in the Game Informer offices willing to say they like those movies. Detractors probably have legitimate arguments for why they don't like the series, but those films still count among some of the most successful of the last half decade. They are wildly popular among the people who don't care enough to pick them apart, but that doesn't make them good movies. It also certainly doesn't mean that the people who don't like them are only attacking them for their popularity. If you ask knowledgeable people about the series they probably are not going to return an in depth answer though, they're just going to say the movies are bad.

The same can be said for Call of Duty, and addressing the more vapid complaints about the series doesn't change the fact that there are perfectly reasonable points backing up many of them. Like Transformers, a knowledgeable minority with criticisms of the game may be just as indicative of quality as its popularity. Though it's not entirely off base to call out the people who ragged on Treyarch for not being Infinity Ward, or the people who have played Call of Duty for a grand total of an hour and take pride in passing judgement without reason, those are the types of people who couldn't find their way out of a room that doesn't have walls. What they have to say on the topic shouldn't be all that is touched upon in a defense of the series. Picking apart the malformed arguments of a mass of misinformed hipsters is about as difficult as breaching the walls of a sand castle, and throwing mud at the people flinging poo doesn't accomplish much because they don't care. 

Unfortunately I have stop this train of thought here, since I don't want to tread into the territory of other sections. One last thing should be said though: Fun is objective, and I haven't had fun with Call of Duty in a while. Saying that the "games are still fun" doesn't defend the series in any meaningful way. It's fine as a justification for continuing to play the games, but little else.