Every year a Call of Duty game comes out, and every year the same accusations and criticisms appear online from gamers who express themselves not to be fans of the franchise – that only empty-headed sheep go out every year and pay $50-$60 on a dressed up DLC pack with little to no progression and even less innovation. Regardless of how well the games do commercially or critically, that element of the gaming community never seems likely to quiet down, answering rebuttals with the same argument – that the games are terrible, and that fans are plainly wrong.

It all gets a little bit like banging your head off a brick wall when it comes to opening discourse with this sort of commenter – they won’t accept that modern Call of Duty titles could ever be good any more than COD fans will accept that they themselves are wrong for enjoying playing the games. Reviewers and critics can break the games down as much as they want, exploring absolutely every single element of the game (hopefully without bias), and give the kind of scores that Black Ops II has picked up in the past few days since release (like IGN’s massive 93/100), and it will be suggested as some sort of conspiracy to feed the sheep another COD title.

So are the haters right? Are we actually all just idiots if we like playing Call of Duty games? Here we look at 6 keys points that could prove either way whether such an assessment is indeed true…

1. It Sells Too Many

So far, as expected, Black Ops II has sold like delicious FPS hot-cakes: according to Activision, the game made an enormous $500million in its first day of release making it the biggest launch of the year, by their reckoning. Naturally that has led to the intelligent commentary that it’s just sheep, under 12s and idiots with no imagination who have flocked to their local retailers to get their hands on a copy – because how else could you explain such a jaw-dropping number of sales on the day of launch?

So, does that mean it’s for idiots?

Verdict: Well, in a word no.

No matter how much the cynics, snobs and hipsters will tell you, popularity has never been a sign of a lack of quality. The unfortunate result of Call of Duty’s success as a franchise (and indeed most franchises that bring out regular or even semi-regular new additions) and Activision’s success in making the games accessible, is that there has been the inevitable push-back that results in any mass popularity.

But Call of Duty sells well every year because the games – or at least elements of them – are loved every year. Regardless of what the troll-heavy user reviews you’ll find online might suggest, nobody buys games every year from a franchise that repeatedly lets them down just to make sure they’re still rubbish: consumerism simply doesn’t work like that, and players will simply turn their back on franchises instead. That is why previously successful franchises die, it isn’t a trick of the market.

It isn’t idiots who buy Call of Duty games, it is fans, and the two are not the same thing, regardless of what COD haters might suggest.

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This article was first posted on November 18, 2012