For two decades, the majority of the action in the ‘best first-person shooter’ debate has been between Call of Duty and Battlefield. They’re around the same age, and they’ve covered the same theatres of war, but they’ve both gone about it quite differently. However, even in 2023, there’s a ‘Call of Duty vs Battlefield’ discussion that still attempts to pit both communities against one another.
It’s no big secret that Call of Duty has the numbers where sales and the overall player count are concerned, but how has Battlefield fared over the years? Is it even fair to define the debate as ‘Call of Duty vs Battlefield’ anymore, or it is it something else entirely? Could this be called a chalk and cheese fight, with the two products being far too different from one another to even compare them fairly?
Let’s find out – this is Call of Duty vs Battlefield.
Is Call of Duty More Popular Than Battlefield?
In a word: yes.
There’s no doubt – Call of Duty is so much more popular than Battlefield, it’s barely even a debate. If we take even one Call of Duty game, we can see that that alone has had more sales (read: downloads) than the entire Battlefield franchise to date. Of course, we could be referring to both Call of Duty Warzone (and 2.0), and Call of Duty Mobile. Both of these games have seen way more than 100 million players rotate through their platforms, which puts the entire Battlefield series to shame.
To this day the most popular Battlefield game has been Battlefield 1, the World War I-themed epic that was released in 2016, which sold around 25 million copies. By comparison, the most popular mainstream Call of Duty title to ever hit the shelves was Call of Duty Black Ops (2010), which sold a whopping 32 million copies. It’s worth stressing that, for Battlefield, only three games in the series have ever broken through the ten million sales mark.
For Call of Duty, the top ten best-selling games almost all hit at least twenty million copies sold.
Do Call of Duty and Battlefield Offer The Same Content?
It’s the heart of the Call of Duty vs Battlefield debate: do both games ultimately offer the same thing?
No, and it’s not always fair to compare them for that very reason.
Call of Duty offers a fast-paced, small-map experience, but more recently, it has pivoted to also include larger environments and more vehicular-based combat, but it’s still more of an ‘arcade’ title at its core. For Call of Duty, the biggest successes comes from its battle royale platform, Warzone, and its mobile game, Call of Duty Mobile. Furthermore, Call of Duty offers a more competitive platform, with Ranked Play and the Call of Duty League powering the esports scene.
Battlefield is a much slower-paced game, offering players huge maps with a plethora of vehicles to use. It traditionally boasts near-unparalleled destruction mechanics, and combat is typically more tactical and squad-driven, featuring much more of a realistic vibe than Call of Duty. In 2018, Battlefield’s battle royale mode was released in Battlefield 5, but it was a huge failure, and in 2023, the series’ mobile project was cancelled. There is also no esports scene surrounding Battlefield.
In fact, the only similarity between these two franchises is the fact that they’re both first-person shooters.
When Did Call of Duty and Battlefield Peak?
It seems that Call of Duty pushes that peak further with each new release. It’s a staple of the gaming industry, and it’s more or less a guarantee that Call of Duty will ship tens of millions of copies just because it’s called Call of Duty.
We recently discussed the premise of a Call of Duty movie, pointing out that it’d do well simply because it’s a Call of Duty movie.
In 2022, Modern Warfare II was released, and it became the fastest-selling game in franchise history. That milestone came more than a decade after Call of Duty started hitting tens of millions of sales, proving that even after all these years, it still has the ability to deliver on those lofty sales expectations. It could be suggested that Call of Duty still hasn’t hit its peak, but it was arguably between 2009 and 2012 that it did peak.
Some of the all-time best Call of Duty games were released during that window, from the original Modern Warfare 2 (2009) to Black Ops (2010), and then from Modern Warfare 3 (2011) to Black Ops II (2012). It was considered the peak of Call of Duty multiplayer, and it’s where the esports scene for Call of Duty was born.
For Battlefield, the peak actually came around the same time – from 2010 to 2013. During this time, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Battlefield 3, and Battlefield 4 were all released. For much of the community, Battlefield 3 is considered to be the best game in the series. It was EA’s fastest-selling game in history, and it had secured more than three million pre-orders ahead of launch.
So, Is Call of Duty Better than Battlefield?
Given the failure of Battlefield 2042 in 2021, we can probably say that – at present – Call of Duty is subjectively better than Battlefield. However, there are plenty of people in the Battlefield community who would stand up tall and dispute that. Ultimately, there’s a huge project within EA to revitalise and rebuild Battlefield from the ground up, bringing a title that’ll change the face of the franchise.
It could mean a return to form for Battlefield and a new peak for the series. It could also mean Battlefield will once and for all become a true rival to Call of Duty.
Now, in the current debate of Call of Duty vs Battlefield, it has to be said that Call of Duty is better. That’s a statement coming from a long-time fan of both franchises, and it’s based on the current state of both franchises. It could change in the near future, though.
Read Next: Should We Just Forget About Battlefield 2042?