Please don’t jump to conclusions about what this post is about before you read the whole thing. Call of Duty is actually one of the most hated on franchises in all of gaming, arguably for good reason. Activision releases a new iteration of it EVERY calendar year, and the 4 DLC (downloadable content) packs each cost $15 extra. When playing the game online we are forced to listen to people insulting each other, 12 year old (“squeakers”) screaming into their mics, and a barrage a racial slurs. Despite all this the game sells well and sets records every year. This is because the franchise is brilliantly marketed, and has become more than just a video game.
Today I saw a video for the upcoming Black Ops 2 DLC which releases on 1/29/12 (my birthday!). Going into this year’s CoD I had no desires to buy any of the DLC. After the train wreck that was Modern Warfare 3 I felt like I had been robbed. When I watched the video, I found myself getting excited. A new zombies map?! A multiplayer map in a skate park?! My mood was changed because Treyarch and Activision put together a great video that got me, a married college grad in his mid-20’s, as excited as a kid in a candy store. How did they do this?
Like I said earlier CoD is more than just a game, it is a hangout. Whenever I get on Xbox Live about half of my friends are playing Black Ops 2, some are even playing the previous year’s CoDs. We can “party up” and mute everyone else in the lobby, talk strategy, joke around, discuss our joy over the Laker’s downfall, whatever.
Many of the best and most notable things in life are more than JUST one thing. Donald Glover is an actor on community, a rapper under the name Childish Gambino, was a writer for 30 Rock, AND does stand up. Jay-Z, in addition to being one of the best rappers ever, has multiple successful businesses. Michael Jordan played basketball AND baseball (okay, bad example). Call of Duty follows this patter; it is a video game, a competitive e-sport (yes, really), and a place for friends to meet.
What’s the takeaway here? I’m not one to be preachy and give advice, but this can be applied to anyone’s aspirations. I don’t think the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none” should have a negative connotation. One can be successful in multiple areas, and expand their reach by doing so. I’m not saying that I necessarily want to be the Call of Duty of comedy, but there’s a lot to learn from CoD’s business model and marketing.