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We can work it out: why Call of Duty and Battlefield should (and must) coexist
by Andrew Testerman

For nearly the entire calendar year, the Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises have been at war.

Similar to the Sega vs. Nintendo days of yore, it’s a pitch, knock-down battle for supremacy; the two companies have launched ad campaigns taking none-too-subtle jabs at each other, and gamers are digging in and choosing a side, ready to defend their favourite franchise and see the opposition go down in defeat.

This has to stop.

Seriously, folks, I’m all for good, healthy competition, but what’s going on between Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is just plain ridiculous. It goes beyond competitive rivalry and turns into something out of bloody Amadeus. The antagonism on behalf of either franchise is colossally wrong-headed, and it would be in everyone’s best interest if gamers put down their torches and pitchforks, and let both games be.

First of all, this battle doesn’t make our industry look good. Though gaming has slowly risen to a place of prominence in the last five or ten years, it isn't yet quite as ubiquitous as movie-watching or listening to music, and there’s still plenty of room for outsiders to get the wrong idea about gaming culture. I can’t imagine it speaks terribly highly about our industry if its fans are willing to act like jackasses in defence of a multinational corporation, who would just as soon suffocate under their large piles of money than give specific attention to those dedicated to besmirching their competitor’s name. We’re just starting to be seen by the rest of the world as more mature; let’s act like we deserve to be treated that way.

I also can’t think of any other industry that pits its competition head-to-head in such a petty manner. At no point in 2006 did Warner Bros. point at 20th Century Fox and say "Hey! Our movie about magicians in the early 1900s is way better than yours!" Neither do book publishers declare that their new novel is 'better' than an already-established series ("puts James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club books to shame!"), and whilst it’s hardly unusual for recording artists to enter into disputes, they rarely involve direct album comparisons. These industries appear more confident about their products, and about their ability to coexist with consumers. Fans may argue about whether Star Trek or Star Wars is 'better', but these discussions are most often held between consumers, which is a far cry from having a quarrel perpetuated by the films' own studios.

Besides, if you were to sit down and play both Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, you would quickly find them both to be different and complementary experiences. Battlefield’s multiplayer-focussed shooter offers much more in the vein of wide-open spaces and free-form combat options, whilst Call of Duty places a greater emphasis on tight, twitchy action. True, both games are modern military shooters with straightforward, set piece-driven single player modes, but they both accommodate largely different play styles, resulting in two different gameplay experiences.

Which leads me to my main point: it’s okay to like both. How very basic it sounds, but how true it actually is. Getting caught up in EA and Activision’s trumped-up battle of the shooters can be great fun, but it can also result in players missing an important truth: that both games are fun, top-notch experiences, and each is worthy of your time. Personally, I alternate between the two, depending on what I feel like playing. Perhaps you can only afford one game, and need to pick between the two; choosing one over the other is fine, but liking one game doesn’t preclude you from enjoying the other.

Perhaps I’m being a curmudgeonly sod, but the whole 'one versus the other' thing just smells of stupidity. Too much time, energy, and Metacritic User Score credibility has been sacrificed to a conflict that does not matter in the grand spectrum of gaming. Both games are out now. Buy them, or don’t. Like them, or don’t. But dragging out this pissing contest of a sales matchup is unnecessary, not to mention stupid.

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- Andrew Testerman

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