Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II – Most Downloaded Game in Europe and US Recently

Video games like League of Legends (LOL), Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO), and Valorant often make the news due to their esports pedigree; however, the new Call of Duty (COD) is growing much more disproportionately. According to a YouGov poll, 36% of esports fans in North America follow CoD games on a regular basis. UK gamers are also overwhelmingly following CoD at 23%. Hot on their heels is LOL, 21% in the UK and 23% in the US.

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Call of Duty Modern Warefare ll

Source: Call of Duty, illustration: Milica Mijajlovic

The methodology YouGov used included sifting through the data from 38 markets, where through a continuous data collection process the percentages are determined. The UK data sample size contained between 355 and 809 adults, while the US sample included between 1,420 and 2,970 adults. 

The most followed gaming franchises

 Source: YouGov

Brief History of CoD

CoD is among the most impactful franchises in gaming history, with most first person shooters (FPS) games owing some part of their success and mechanics to this franchise. The game initially won over gamers by offering a Michael Bay-like experience in single player campaigns, but the multiplayer fast paced action and tense moments of shooting at the enemy is what really raised the game to new levels. 

While some old school gamers may argue that CoD has a lot to thank to the Medal of Honor series that started in 1999, as CoD came out in 2003, the games are actually quite different, especially when it comes to multiplayer options. Activision, the game developer, focused on showing the world war II effort from the Soviet, British and American theaters of war.  

Introduction of modding in the community, the in-game adoption of a “shellshock” and iron sight moved the game closer to realism than any previous shooter game. Over the years roughly 20 different CoD games came out across all gaming platforms, including mobile ones, to make the franchise one of the most iconic in gaming history. 

CoD games

Source: Techspot

Why Is it so Popular?

CoD is arguably the most popular FPS franchise of all time, where CoD: Warzone brought the most new eyes to the franchise, but the previous ones were also widely successful. Thousands of players logged in on a daily basis to compete in Warzone, the free battle royale game that launched CoD into the stratosphere. More importantly the US and UK players predominantly played Warzone, with Chinese players squeezing out UK for the second spot. 

CoD: Warzone player distribution

Source: PlayerCounter

This clearly indicates that the FPS genre that CoD brings to players is quite popular among players. This CoD domination continued with the new game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II (CoD: MWII), which beat out games like Gotham Knights, FIFA 23 and NBA 2K23 for the most downloaded game on the Playstation 5 and 4 consoles for the month of October in the US and Europe, according to an official Playstation blog

New CoD New Hope

Compared to its predecessor CoD: Vanguard, in just the first week of sales CoD: MWII sales were 125% bigger. The game is close to the brink of out-selling Vanguard’s lifetime performance in just two weeks. Vanguard was not well received by players across the globe as the game did not introduce many new dynamics, and the ones it did just alienated players even further, especially the multiplayer mode that left a lot to be desired. 

Activision also analyzed the reasons why Vanguard was not as popular, claiming that the reason why the game did not resonate with players is the setting of the game. The game was set in World War II, a setting used by CoD 2, the most iconic game in the franchise. Furthermore, Activision claimed that the game was not as innovative as they would have liked.

After Microsoft acquired Activision in this year, the firm placed its hopes on CoD: MWII, and it seems that the players did as well. Despite the firm trying to hold an embargo on the game’s hype, they were unsuccessful as the beta versions showed off some new and old dynamics that got gamers excited. 

Confused Gamers

The hype surrounding the game certainly helped sales, but also some strange moments where gamers compared Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II (2022) to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009) provided additional marketing exposure to the game. The games, though similar in name, differ in almost everything else, except the part where guns, bombs and global tensions require gamers to take on a role of a virtual soldier. 

Some gamers took to Youtube to show a side-by-side comparison of the two MW games, however the graphics quality between the two, if run on high end hardware, is simply incomparable.  

A Roaring Success

The fact that the game is selling as fast as “digitally” possible, does not mean that the game is perfect in every aspect, though in terms of sales it certainly blows the competition out of the water. The game suffers from unusual unlock paths, it has unbalanced time-to-kill measures, poor choice of game modes, and poor maps, which all points to possible future issues the game will have in the multiplayer mode. Though with a few patches and rebalancing the game could be much improved, perhaps it was a bit rushed after the hype train showed that the game could sell out in record numbers. 

Johanna Faries, the General Manager at Call of Duty thanked the players on the early success of the game:

‘Thank you, Call of Duty players, for making Modern Warfare II’s launch one for the record books as well as the highest-grossing entertainment opening of the year. It is our honor and privilege to deliver such a historic launch weekend for the best fans in the world. As amazing as this opening has been, Call of Duty has much more in store.”

Esports for the Win

In December, one of the biggest Call of Duty esports in the history of the franchise will take place in Raleigh, North Carolina. This event will unite the Call of Duty League, COD Mobile World Championship and Call of Duty Challengers. Further, Warzone 2.0 will be launched early in 2023 and MWII ranked mode should also be around the corner.  

According to the company we will not see a new Call of Duty game in 2024, which will mark the first time in sixteen years that we will not get an annual Call of Duty release. Currently, it is hard to determine whether this news affects the sales numbers and whether this will be a good thing for the community. It ensures that Activision Blizzard has enough time to polish MWII and win over the gaming community with new features and the continuing growth of the CoD platform, possibly setting up the next CoD for an even bigger success. 

Dino Kurbegović is a project coordinator and an investor and technology enthusiast with years of experience in managing complex projects. His journey into content writing began in 2014, covering finance, investing, crypto, technology and complex technical topics.