Does COD 4 Deserve to be in a Video Game Canon?

Canons have been used to represent many thing throughout time. The Latin meaning is “measuring rod, standard” , which its meaning is used today to show the importance of influential mile stones in human history. Videogames  have recently made a major impact, on human communication and visual art. Henry Lowood, curator of the History of Science and Technology Collections at Stanford University proposed games canon to the Library of Congress on September 2006 and in 2007 he announced the canon at the Game Developers Conference with a list of 10 games. Each game was thoroughly considered with high regards and they were picked because of their impact on the not only the gaming community but also their impact to society. One game that didn’t make the list because it was released after the list was released, but can be considered  to be an impactful game is Call of Duty 4:Modern Warfare?




  Call of Duty 4 was one most impactful games of that year. It received many critically acclaimed awards and by game analyst from Gametrailers, Gamespot and other online game informing companies. Not only did it  satisfy critics but it also satisfied with its sales numbers, which shows the acceptance that the game received during this time. This game reached major feats in 2007 and its following predecessors did not disappoint. The impact that this game had brought upon the online FPS genre was major, so major  that even today may try to copy it, but to no avail. Call of Duty 4:Modern Warfare may have been a major breakthrough in the game industry and it might of also been the one most influential game of the decade. If  the official canon was released later in decade this game might of had a high possibility of either being picked or at least nominated to be on the canon.

Call of Duty by the time that the fourth iteration came out had already made a name for itself. Its momentum took a dip with Call of Duty 3 which was developed by Treyarch, which meant that  the other developing company, Infinity Ward , had big expectations to reach in order to revive the Call of Duty series. They managed to create one of most critically acclaimed games of  2007. After Infinity ward released a Beta for the multiplayer show off the perks, kill streaks ,a leveling system and unlocks; the bar for the game was set. With a another big selling game coming out for the Xbox360 that year Activision, the publisher of the game,  knew that this could be wither a hit or miss on that platform. That opposition  on the Xbox360 was none other than Halo 3, which after the last entry was expected to be one of the strongest games to hit the Xbox and also be one of the best games to come out that year. In the end the multi-platform helped Call of Duty 4 making available to every console and making people have a better reason experience the “modern warfare” experience. Critics from game reviewing sites like gamespot gave this game a 9.0 out of 10 and giving comments like; “The quality of the content in the campaign is totally top-shelf, and the multiplayer is some of the best around, making this a truly superb package.” which gives gamers confidence to buy this game.  Gametrailers boldly stated “Just as much care has been given to the multiplayer as the single-player, resulting in an experience only rivaled by Halo 3.” not only did it score a 9.4 out of 10 but also showed the magnitude of the game at the time. This also foreshadowed the future of the game and also raised the bar for the other developer that made this game. With such high acclaims a game like this is bound to be a high grossing one too.







Call of Duty 4 was winning awards and critical acclaims Activision was also ready to break software records that year.  As mentioned before its only real comparable competition was Halo 3 which is an Xbox360 exclusive. According to Call of Duty sold a record 15.73 million copies overall. This shows the amount of approval that this game had taken in. This was wonderful news for Activision considering that they worried that they would of not of done well against Halo 3. Halo that year sold 11.62 million copies according to vgcchartz, while Call of Duty sold only 8.73 on the Xbox 360 overall. Even though halo outsold on the Xbox, it still did better than the Playstation 3 version which sold 6.2. It sold fairly well on the Pc with the Nintendo DS following it. These numbers show the dedication and love that the fans showed towards this title and how much faith the Call of Duty franchise has. With such high amounts of units sold, these numbers are what make up the millions that play the online multiplayer. This game went on to sell $750,000 on units for the Xbox, the first week  and sold an overall $1.7 million not including the pirating, steam and direct2drive.

This game shows that that it has withstood the test of time due the amount of people that are still playing the game at this time.  Even today one can go pick the online option and expect to be into game. The only depressing part is since Infinity Ward has stopped supporting the online part their a lot of people that hack and mod the game but the there are still people that want to play the online for the entirety. This games multiplayer only rivaled that of Halo 3, Which is a lot to be said considering that halo was one of the reason that Xbox live was created. The things that the online multiplayer offered had never been seen before. It offered a leveling system which rewarded players with different weapons and other unlocks that made the multiplayer entertaining and gave the player the incentive to keep playing. The killstreaks in the games made the player feel like they had some power over the game even though you kept recycling the same ones over which were; UAV which showed the enemy players on the map for a certain period of time, a airstrike which could sometime be place in certain parts of the map, and a helicopter which killed the enemy players if they were spotted. These things made the player feel accomplished and gave them a reason to get kills consecutively. This formula was the game changer that Call of Duty needed and in the end it was able to benefit from it drastically.


Call of duty has been adorned by many people and there is strong evidence why. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was just what the fans ordered and Infinity Ward got it spot on. From the millions of copies sold, to the millions of people that they were able to put online and make them play consecutively. These are factors that make this game a hit from the start and also keeps it alive and well now. These are reasons why people keep going back to this game and keep having fun when playing. Although some people find it frustrating at time this games brings all sorts of emotion upon a person. This game should be on the canon list because this game has managed to affect people emotionally and inspirationally.   This is what Call of duty 4: Modern Warfare  has done for many people, just like World of War craft , Call of Duty is no longer just game it is a way of lifestyle.


Works Cited

“Halo 3 vs. COD4.” Squidoo. N.p., n.d. Web. <>.

Ransom-Wiley, James. “10 most important video games of all time, as judged by 2 designers, 2 academics, and 1 lowly blogger.” Joystiq. N.p., n.d. Web.  <>.

VGChartz. N.p., n.d. Web. <>.


  2 comments for “Does COD 4 Deserve to be in a Video Game Canon?

  1. Anthony Seippel
    April 18, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    I do agree with you that Call of Duty 4 was a superb game, highly decorated for the innovations it brought to the increasingly stagnant first person shooter genre, proving itself notable in the face of the juggernaut that was Halo 3. It as a stand alone should be considered as a canon. However, in the same way that it progressed the format of FPS’s it also dealt them the most critical blow of all. Since it’s release, there have been NO innovations to the level of what it did. This isn’t necessarily the fault of COD4, but that is not to say COD4 is innocent. Since its introduction, it has been copied again and again and again. It has set a rubric that leaves little room for innovation. Again this is not necessarily the fault of COD4, but a fault of the developers. Where its true fault lie sis that this innovation ENDED with COD4. The successors you mentioned did nothing to continue this innovation but merely rely upon the preset format while simply adding in new content and graphical updates. Neither Treyark nor Infinity Ward have done anything with the COD series since then. As you stated, many have tried and failed to recreate what COD4 did, but the very series itself is failing by its constant recreation of the same exact game once every year. A game becomes truly canon when the series it sets off continues to innovate and change the landscape. Half Life did it with its tight controls and eventual introduction of environment manipulation with the Gravity Gun. Halo did it with its introduction of a well rounded story based in an enthralling universe and emphasis on tactical preparation by limiting the weapons you could carry. Gears of War did it with its cover system and story that left many a player crying as they watched Dom sacrifice himself for his brother Marcus (it still gives me pause to think about). COD4 brought about a new standard of gameplay sure, but it hasn’t done anything but copy itself since then. It’s copying greatness sure. It’s being successful in terms of sales sure. But in terms of progression, it is failing in a blaze of glory, embodying exactly what COD4 seemed to end, stagnation.

    • October 30, 2013 at 6:50 pm

      I completely agree with you about COD, but there’s always something to be played in FPS games category – COD, BF, Wolfenstein, CS – they come and go.

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