Why 'Call of Duty' Rakes in So Much Cash Year After Year

by NBC News /

'Call of Duty' Returns


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You’re probably going to be hearing a lot more about ‘Call of Duty’ this holiday season.

In some ways, there are a lot of other games out there that look similar. 'Halo 5,' released last week, is also a popular first-person shooter game. However, 'Halo' is limited to the Xbox console as a Microsoft-branded product. 'Call of Duty' will be available on PC, PlayStation 4 and XBox One, and a more limited version of the game will be offered for older generation consoles.

‘Call of Duty: Black Ops III’ ranked as the most-anticipated game of the holiday season for 2015, according to Nielsen, beating out ‘Fallout 4’ and ‘Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate.’ Earlier this week, Activision, the maker of ‘Call of Duty’ announced that it was buying the company behind the ultra-popular mobile game ‘Candy Crush’ for a whopping $5.9 billion.

Read More: Activision Blizzard to Buy 'Candy Crush' Maker for $5.9 Billion

That’s nearly three times the $2 billion Disney ponied up when it bought the ‘Star Wars’ franchise rights from Lucasfilm in 2012. The 'Call of Duty' franchise has topped $11 billion in lifetime revenue.

Part of the appeal of ‘Call of Duty’ may be the variety of ways it allows people to play the game. There is a single player campaign that allows a user to play alone. Multiplayer mode allows players to compete against strangers or friends, online or in person. There’s even a “zombie mode” that allows players to team up with up to three friends against a common enemy -- in this case, zombies.

“I’m definitely part of the group that’s familiar with getting beat mercilessly by 12-year-olds in 'Call of Duty,'” said Chris Grant, editor in chief of the video game site Polygon.

The audience for ‘COD,’ as it’s known among gamers, is global and spans many demographic groups.

“It’s something that a lot of people miss when they look superficially at a game like 'Call of Duty' on the surface. Sure, it’s a military-themed game with a bunch of people shooting each other, but what they’re missing is that most of the hours played are spent with your friends,” said Grant.

This social dynamic allows players to range from casual to competitive to a professional level. Buying ‘Candy Crush’-maker King Digital will likely only allow that audience to grow even further.

Read More: 'Call of Duty' Tweets of Fake Terrorist Attack Spark Backlash

“Activison already has Blizzard, and King is a way for them to get into the mobile or casual space in a leadership position in a way that they never have been before,” Grant said.

This acquisition might mean we will see mobile offerings from ActiVision in the near future.

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