The more I think about Call of Duty, the more I am reminded of World of Warcraft and the reason why so many people spend so many hours on these two games. Clearly the Call of Duty franchise has become a phenomenon with millions of players online each day, and the same must be true of World of Warcraft with over 11 million subscribers and millions of those subscribers actually online in the servers each day. But what makes people keep coming back for more? and is the reason the same for both CoD and WoW?
I believe the reason people keep coming back for more COD and more WOW is the love of chasing the ding. If you are unaware, the ding I am referring to is the common sound that occurs when a character reaches a new level in game. Sometimes the ding may occur with some added fireworks or extra flair, but the ding is getting a new level in any game. Looking back at Call of Duty 2, the game did not have any kind of progression system to reward the player for the hours spent in the game. The game was fun and definitely kept players coming back for more, if only to play the maps again and keep getting better at the game.
But people are and have been playing Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and on, and World of Warcraft at a much higher rate. Why? Because the level progression system keeps them coming back for more. You have a need to keep playing to stay at the same level as your friends. And you can’t deny that it is actually really fun to reach the next level, unlock new guns or abilities and then keep playing with the new gear, until you reach the next level and do it all again. Call of Duty choose to implement the prestige system where players can even choose to level up from 1 all over again in order to get a cool looking symbol that tells everyone else whats up.
Even games like Halo 4 and Borderlands have begun to implement a leveling system in order to keep players in the game longer as they attempt to reach max level. I can honestly say that I would have stopped playing Borderlands 2 after the main story if not for the leveling system. I am still playing that game in hopes of reaching the max level and the perks that come with it.
And for all the grief that people give an exp based leveling system, versus a skill based level system. Halo 4 got it right. Reaching that first specialization and unlocking new armor mods at the end of the specialization will have players playing this game for ages just to unlock all of the perks. I know I will. The ding gives players a reason to play everyday and keep earning exp in order to get to the next level.
And who doesn’t remember leveling up a Squirtle in Pokemon Red/Blue. I, for one, am glad that this system has followed us into modern shooters.