In 2003, the video game world changed with the release of the first “Call of Duty” game, launching a franchise that would dominate sales across all consoles and personal computers. There have been plenty of first-person shooter franchises through the years, but none have come close to seeing the type of success that “Call of Duty” has.
The result has been tens of millions of copies of most of the entries sold around the world, with some selling more than others. Which “Call of Duty” games have been the most popular? Here’s a look at the top five. Just missing the cut were “Modern Warfare 2”, “Advanced Warfare”, and “WWII”.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III
Get used to seeing the name “Black Ops” on the list, because it pops up a few times. The first of the “Black Ops” games is the third entry, which also happened to be the second-least successful, yet managed to be a top-five seller overall. “Black Ops III” was released by Treyarch and Activision in 2015, making it toward the end of the run for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, while also being the start of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
“Black Ops III” sold 26.72 million copies, with the fact that it was on two different generations of consoles really helping to boost sales. The game also introduced an expanded cooperative campaign and received positive reviews from critics for the tweaks that were made compared to previous entries. The sales allowed for a fourth “Black Ops” to be made, though it didn’t crack the top five.
Call of Duty: Ghosts
The “Call of Duty” franchise was on a roll when 2013 came along, and things changed dramatically when “Ghosts” was released. Like “Black Ops III”, “Ghosts” was part of two different generations of consoles, but the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 had just been released. It didn’t seem to be too optimized for one generation in particular, which really affected the performance of the game.
There were a lot of gripes that “Call of Duty” players had with “Ghosts”, but they had already purchased the game millions of times over. More specifically, more than 28.8 million copies of “Ghosts” were sold. Though it was one of the least-liked “Call of Duty” games, “Ghosts” still sold a ton of copies thanks to the good reputation that the franchise had with its previous entries.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
One of those entries that earned the good graces of fans was “Black Ops II”, which was the highly-anticipated sequel to the first game that helped launch the golden era of “Call of Duty”. “Black Ops II” took many of the original concepts from “Black Ops” and expanded on them, making it a better experience overall for many of the players. More maps were involved, and the Zombies game mode became even better and more intricate.
“Black Ops II” still remains one of the most well-received entries in “Call of Duty” history, and sold 7.5 million copies in the first month of release alone. Overall, just under 30 million “Black Ops II” copies were sold, making it the third-most-popular game. What makes this more impressive was the fact that “Black Ops II” was sold on just one generation of consoles as it was during the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 era.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (30.97m)
Released in 2011, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” is regarded by many as the best multiplayer game in the franchise’s history. With an easy-to-understand ranking system and overall fun combat, people flocked to MW3 for the online gaming aspect alone. The campaign mode was solid, too, but nothing that was groundbreaking.
Instead, Activision focused more on tweaking and polishing what was already working, and had a lot of sponsorship tie-ins to help boost sales. Double XP promotions really got off the ground thanks to “Modern Warfare 3”, teaming up with PepsiCo. All in all, just around 31 million copies of “Modern Warfare 3” were sold.
Call of Duty: Black Ops
The reigning king of the Black Ops storyline in the “Call of Duty” franchise is also the king of all “Call of Duty” games in general. With over 31 million copies sold, it narrowly edges out “Modern Warfare 3”. “Black Ops” began what most consider the best era in “Call of Duty” history, with the release coming in late 2010.
While the first “Modern Warfare” introduced the Zombies game mode, “Black Ops” took it to another level, helping to boost sales. The multiplayer was also universally beloved, and critics almost entirely across the board gave “Black Ops” extremely high ratings.