The newly released Call of Duty: Modern Warfare title is pretty controversial, there’s no doubting that. There’s also no doubting that controversy sells. The developer and publisher expended a ton of effort trying to hype up just how edgy their game was, and it appears to have worked just like they wanted. A big part of this was in the way the game presents itself in the most blatant of edgy and pro-USA nonsense.
Of course, the game fully embraced the almost farcical nature of its representation of militarist propaganda and embodied the idea of American exceptionalism by straight up lying about history. There’s a moment in one of the games missions where the narrator changes the course of history by alleging that it was in fact the Russian military which engaged in an infamous war crime of the first Gulf War, The Highway of Death. During the real event, US forces trapped a convoy of hundreds of retreating Iraqi soldiers, and brutally slaughtered them. It was the peak representation of the “shock and awe” spectacle that America used to glorify war during that time, and is arguably one of the more egregious actions by the US military in modern times. But because Call of Duty: Modern Warfare wanted the Russians to be the bad guys instead of the totally innocent and savior-like USA, the game just straight lies to the player. And clearly, people are fine with it.
Owing to this approach, the game has reached a meteoric rise in terms of sales in just its first three days since release. On PC, the game had it’s best-ever opening three days in series history. Activision has released early details about sales numbers, revaaling that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare had sold more than $600 million worth of units. This suggests that millions upon millions of gamers bought the game on launch.
“Through the first three days, Modern Warfare has more total players and total hours played than any Call of Duty opening release in the last six years. More importantly, our players are having a great time playing,” said Rob Kostich, president, Activision. “Congratulations to Infinity Ward and all our teams involved in an incredible game and its spectacular launch. We also want to thank the community for your incredible support. The launch of Modern Warfare is only the start. There’s much more to come.”
So regardless of the moral efficacy of their approach, this sets a strong precedent that Activision and Infinity Ward will no doubt tap into for the inevitable sequel. Now we just have to wait for the company to take two more steps backwards and include loot boxes in the next game to completely destroy any faith I have left in the franchise.