Like its name suggests, Call of Duty is one of the first-person shooter franchises that have managed to become extremely popular in recent decades. However, it stands out because most of its installments are not set in a science fiction setting but instead set in either wars that have happened in real life or wars that could happen in real life. Whether this has contributed to the Activision-owned franchise’s popularity or detracted from the same, this serves to distinguish it from other franchises such as Halo and Gears of War, which is convenient because sorting through the Call of Duty games can be surprisingly complicated.
What Are the Installments of the Call of Duty Franchise?
The Call of Duty franchise is huge. Consisting of a wide range of games made by a wide range of developers using a wide range of engines for a wide range of platforms, it is not so much a single story-line focused on a single character or even a single set of characters so much as a brand name used to collect a number of games with shared mechanics but separate stories. Still, to make sense of them all, it is important to note some of the most important titles as well as sub-series in the Call of Duty franchise:
The earliest Call of Duty games were set in World War II, with the first one called simply Call of Duty having come out in 2003 before it was followed by Call of Duty 2 in 2005 and Call of Duty 3 in 2006. The first two games were developed by Infinity Ward, whereas the third game was developed by Treyarch. From the start, the first three Call of Duty games were made available on an ever-increasing number of platforms, which made it possible for an ever-increasing audience to enjoy the first-person shooter gameplay from a surprisingly diverse range of Allied perspectives in various stories.
After the first three games that were set in World War II, the Call of Duty franchise continued with the Modern Warfare games in 2007, 2009, and 2011, which were initially marketed as continuation of the main Call of Duty games but soon became popular enough to be marketed on their own. In total, there have been 3 Modern Warfare games, which are focused on telling a shared story about a hypothetical World War III fought between the United States and an ultra-nationalistic Russia. It is interesting to note that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is one of the most succsssful installments in the Call of Duty franchise so far, seeing as how it managed to earn more than $1.2 billion on its own.
Another of the spin-off series included in the Call of Duty franchise is the Black Ops series with four separate installments in 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2015, which feature a much wider range of stories in a much wider range of settings while still retaining the Call of Duty games’ core characteristics. For example, Call of Duty: Black Ops was set during the Cold War, whereas Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 was set in a hypothetical future. Once again, the series is notable in that Call of Duty: Black Ops is one of the most successful installments so far, having managed more than $1.2 billion on its own as well.
Other than these series, there have been a number of other Call of Duty spin-offs. Some of these were meant for Windows as well as other standard platforms, with examples including but not limited to Call of Duty: Ghosts and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. In contrast, others were meant for consoles and even handheld platforms. It is interesting to note that some of these games are willing to take much greater divergences from the main installments, with a prime example being Call of Duty: Zombies and Zombies 2, which was released for a number of platforms including both the iPad and the iPhone.
Unlike a lot of the other popular video game franchises out there, Call of Duty has not had a lot of other material released in other mediums, both because its subject matter is already covered and because it has multiple story lines. This is not to say that it has no merchandise whatsoever, seeing as how it has both a card game and action figures, just that it has less than some of its most famous competitors.
What Is the Value of the Call of Duty Franchise?
Given the sheer number of installments in the Call of Duty franchise, it should come as no surprise to learn that it is one of the most valuable video game franchises that can be found in the entire world. In brief, estimates placed the earnings for the Call of Duty franchise at $9.7 billion, which is an astonishing figure that makes it a bigger money-earners than many of the most famous names in the entertainment industries. However, it turns out that the estimates of $9.7 billion were actually too low because Activision’s own financial statements revealed in 2015 that the Call of Duty franchise has earned more than $11 billion over the course of its existence up to that point. (2) For reference, this means that the Call of Duty franchise has earned more over the course of its existence than all of the box office revenues of the Star Wars movies put together, which is incredible considering the sheer extent of Star Wars’s impact on American popular culture.
Of course, the $11 billion figure is not the value of the Call of Duty franchise but what it has earned up to this point. As a result, chances are good that this figure actually falls short of what it would be worth based on a fair and accurate assessment of its earnings potential. Unfortunately, the only way to produce a fair and accurate assessment of that earnings potential would be to sell the Call of Duty franchise on the open market, which is unlikely to happen anytime soon considering what Activision has been earning off of the Call of Duty games that are still being made on a regular basis. As a result, we must be satisfied with saying that Call of Duty is a multi-billion dollar franchise because we do not have the information that we would need to make a meaningful estimate of its real value.
Although something in the $3-$5 billion range is not out of the question.