Goodbye Call of Duty – We Had Fun, but Cheaters Have Destroyed the Game

I rarely label myself as a “Gamer” as it sounds a little cheesy. Though I guess that’s what I am as I don’t watch television that often; I would rather play a game. Since I first started playing Atari when I was a kid, I have owned the majority of gaming consoles and owned many handhelds.

One of the genres that has become incredibly popular over the last twenty years or so is First Person Shooters (often abbreviated to FPS). Whilst I played other FPS games in the 90s (e.g. Doom on the PC and Exhumed on the Sega Saturn), Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64 was the first game that I devoted a huge amount of time to (or wasted my time, depending on your viewpoint).

I continued to play FPS games on other systems, however it was Counter Strike Source on the PC that really got me back into the genre. Addictive does not even begin to explain how good that game was (and still is!).

After I purchased a PlayStation 3 (PS3), I stopped playing Counter Strike. Whilst I did play Call of Duty 3 at a friends house, it was Call of Duty 4:Modern Warfare that really sucked me in. I spent so many hours playing with friends and playing online myself. I recall some nights when there was myself and around ten friends all playing in the same lobby; which is quite strange when you realise that most of us were in our late twenties at the time.

Call of Duty 4
Call of Duty 4 is still regarded as one of the best games in the series.

Although I purchased many games for the PS3, the Call of Duty games got most of the playtime. I would hazard a guess that around 80% of the time I used the PS3, I was playing a Call of Duty game. I bought the sequels Call of Duty: World at War and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (the fifth and sixth games in the series) on release day and always bought all of the additional map packs for the games.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Modern Warfare 2 expanded the kill streak system significantly.

In my opinion, the one player mode in the Call of Duty series has always been poor. Reviews always raved about the story lines etc; however I found the games too short. The linear gameplay also made the game unchallenging. It is why I only ever completed the one player mode of Call of Duty 4. With the other games, I just went straight to the multiplayer mode in order to play online (though me and a friend did recently completed Call of Duty 10: Ghosts, together – but I do not own the game).

Since the one player game was so short and easy, Call of Duty was all about online play.

Playing with Cheaters

Due to me spending a few years in South America, I had not purchased any Call of Duty games since Modern Warfare 2. A few weeks ago, I decided to play a game of Modern Warfare 2 and quickly got sucked into the game. It was great….for a day or so.

I then noticed that I was being killed frequently in the strangest of places. It took me a few deaths to realise that players were cheating. The killcam (instant replay) showed one guy was running around invisible and knifing people. Another guy was jumping hundreds of feet into the air and sniping people below and another was using an aimbot to target enemies. Then there are guys who cannot die as they have infinite life (see video below). I even played a game which would change from being three times as quick to three times as slow (i.e. turbo mode to slow motion).

I had dealt with cheaters before on Counter Strike, though this was the first time I had encountered it on a console game. The first thing to do when you enter a lobby with cheaters on it is leave. However, I switched between four or five different lobbies and there were cheaters in every game. I then had to just switch the game off.

I decided to play Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare instead. Well, that was the plan. I loaded the game up and was faced with a Fatal error that would not let me play the game. The only solution available is to completely switch off my router, start the game up, and then enable the game again. Since my router is situated downstairs, this makes it a real pain in the ass to play the game.

Switching off the router temporarily took five minutes or so, however it did allow me to play the game. What did I find? You guessed it – All of the lobbies were full of cheaters. This meant Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2 were unplayable.

By this point, I had already ordered Modern Warfare 3. This was the eight game of the series that had been released in 2011 when I was living in South America. The first day or so was fine. Unfortunately, last night I was placed into another room of cheaters.

The guy in question was using a god mode cheat that meant his screen was always flashing an orange colour. This helped him rack up forty kills and zero deaths in the one game. We were just lambs to the slaughter. This resulted in his own team mates leaving the lobby as they could not get any kills. I left and found another game and was right back into a game with a cheater.

This effectively means that all of the Call of Duty games I have purchased are unplayable.

The Death of Call of Duty

The online mode of Call of Duty is all about statistics and rankings. Your kills, deaths, accuracy and ranking, are all tracked. The people who are cheating at these games are mainly doing so to increase their rankings and reach the prestige level. In doing so, they have completely ruined the game for everyone.

Sadly, the developers of the Call of Duty series are doing very little about it. I noticed last night that Modern Warfare 3 allows you to report any player who is cheating; however all of the articles I have read suggest that the option is nothing more than a placebo to try and make us feel better. Only a handful of players are actually being banned.

Consider the fact that most lobbies have around fifteen or so players in them. In a one hour gaming session last night, I moved into three or four different lobbies and came across around four or five cheaters. This means that around eight per cent of the players were cheating. That is a crazy number.

Activision, the publishers of Call of Duty, seem to announce news every year before a new game is released that they have addressed the problem and have new steps in place to stop the cheaters. They note that they have to investigate every report to ensure that innocent people are not banned. This is understandable, but it is clear that there are not enough staff trying to resolve the issue. I read one comment saying that the team who deal with cheaters only had twelve staff.

Let’s do the math on this. According to Wikipedia, there are forty million active players playing online every month. Even if I am prudent and say that the percentage of people cheating is only 5%, that still means that two million people are cheating at the game. How could such a small team deal with so many cheaters? They can’t.

Perhaps a better way to look at it is that they won’t deal with it.

Modern Warfare 3 apparently earned $400 million by selling 6.5 million copies in twenty four hours. By the end of November 2013, the game had sold 26.5 million copies. That means it earned around $1.63 billion. Adding on the income from the map extension packs, the income generated from that one game will easily have exceeded two billion dollars.

Big gaming companies only care about one thing: Money.

Fans of the series have been happy to pay money every new year for essentially the same game with new maps; however Activision must realise by now is that fans of the series will stop buying the game if cheaters are not banned permanently. Giving a player a ban for two days or seven days means nothing as they will just go back to cheating again.

I currently have four Call of Duty games. When you add in the maps I purchased, I have spent around £200 on the game. If I hadn’t travelled, I probably would have spent another £200 on the series.

I was disappointed to hear that the latest game of the series, Call of Duty Ghosts, has already been infiltrated by many spammers. This makes it unlikely that I will buy the game and, subsequently, the map packs.

This cheating has been going on for years now. Activision are either unwilling or unable to deal with the issue. Regardless of the reason, what it means to fans of the series like me is that I will no longer buy the games.

Goodbye Call of Duty. We had fun :)

Kevin