Call of Duty is a popular first-person shooter franchise that features settings like World War II, modern battlefields, and even battles in the future.
The games have come a long way from their modest and humble experiences.
However, as Call of Duty has become more advanced and offered more experiences, the cost of buying the franchise’s games has also increased.
Why Are Call Of Duty Games So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
While older Call of Duty games have remained around the $59.99 price range, new Call of Duty games have started selling for $69.99.
Call of Duty games are expensive because of the licensing costs they face, the various development costs they need to pay, the popularity of the Call of Duty franchise, the continued growth of the games’ play, and the inclusion of microtransactions.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail.
1. Licensing Costs
Music is sometimes a vital part of the Call of Duty games.
Nothing drives the action home quite like some rock or rap song.
However, Call of Duty isn’t able to use those songs for free.
Unless it’s an original song, Call of Duty has to license the song from the original artist.
Depending on who the artist is, Call of Duty might face some high licensing fees.
A well-known artist or band, for example, is going to have a high price on its licensing fees compared to an artist or band that is just starting out.
If Activision, the developer of Call of Duty, wants to have a radio in the game, which it often does, then it’s likely using licensed music.
Since the developer pays a good amount of money to use that music, it needs to put a high price on the game to offset that cost.
Call of Duty is expensive of the high prices its developer pays to use licensed music.
2. Increasing Development Costs
Developing a game is becoming more and more expensive.
A large part of that is because people expect a lot from the Call of Duty franchise.
A problem AAA games are facing is that developers are feeling pressure from gamers to increase the scale of the games with each release.
That isn’t something gamers necessarily want, but the pressure exists all the same.
As such, Activision continues to look for ways to bring new experiences to gamers.
The developer wants to build on the previous Call of Duty games and continue to grow and expand the franchise.
For one, it makes for good marketing.
The developer can market its game as being bigger or more immersive than ever.
It sounds intriguing which encourages new gamers to try Call of Duty.
However, making a game bigger or trying out new features costs more money.
The company, Activision, has to bring on more developers to create the new elements that they want to implement.
All game studios have a deadline that they’re trying to meet.
While they’d likely prefer to work on the game until they feel 100% confident in it, pressures from publishers rarely let them do so.
As such, the studio has to employ more people to get more work done within a window of time.
That drives up production costs which the company needs to offset with higher prices.
Call of Duty games are expensive because of the rising costs of game development.
3. Additional Content Costs
Like most other AAA games, Call of Duty has its share of expansions or DLCs (downloadable content).
Some of its games are even released in seasons.
Each season features new modes, maps, or other experiences.
The problem with this additional content is that you often need to pay for it.
This is especially true of games that feature seasons.
You end up having to pay more money for each season.
If you don’t, then you can’t play the new modes or anything else released in the new season.
As a result, you’re not just paying $60 or $70 to play a game.
When you add in DLC, expansions, or season prices, you could end up paying an extra $20 to $30 every few months.
Buying Call of Duty no longer involves just a single purchase.
You have to continue spending money on the game if you want full access to it.
Call of Duty is expensive because you have to pay for extra content in the form of DLC, expansions, and seasonal updates.
4. Voice Actor Costs
A big selling point for some Call of Duty games is bringing in actors to voice certain characters.
One example is Jon Bernthal who voiced one of the characters in a DLC that brought in fan-favorite zombie enemies to the game.
Bernthal is hardly the only celebrity to have played a part in Call of Duty.
Hiring celebrities to voice characters isn’t always cheap.
Activision is likely counting on fans of the celebrity to buy the game, so they can spend time playing as them or killing enemies at their side.
Celebrities know their star power, too.
They can charge a hefty fee for it.
Since Activision has to spend a lot of money on celebrity voice actors, it needs to offset those costs with high prices on its games.
Even traditional voice actors can be expensive to hire.
Voice actors are celebrities in their own right, with some of these actors having a huge following.
Activision knows that by using a well-known voice actor, it’s likely going to attract that actor’s fans to the game as well.
That might increase its sales, too.
However, voice actors can also leverage their star power and have high wages.
Since the cost of using voice actors can be high, Activision puts higher prices on its games.
Call of Duty is expensive because using celebrity and well-known voice actors can be expensive.
5. Continued Updates And Bug Fixes Costs
Call of Duty games are never without their bugs.
Sometimes, the bugs can be quite game-breaking.
Part of the reason Call of Duty games tend to be quite buggy is that the developers are often rushed to finish the game before proper testing can occur.
Ideally, Activision would likely want to perform a series of quality tests and bug fixes before releasing the game.
However, because it feels compelled to make a profit and earn dividends for its shareholders, certain things are often overlooked.
That results in bug patches and updates that go live after the game’s release.
If there are a ton of bugs, it likely means that the developers are working hard on fixing them.
The last thing Activision wants is for its gamers to leave the game or ask for a refund because it’s unplayable.
Developing fixes and patching the game has costs, however.
For one, it means the company needs to continue to fund developers who have to fix the bugs.
If it were a perfect game without bugs, then the company wouldn’t have to spend money on bug fixes.
Unfortunately, the more bugs it has, the more money the company is spending on its team to fix the bugs.
Call of Duty games are expensive because it spends a good deal of money on fixing bugs.
6. Developed For Different Platforms
One of the reasons Call of Duty is so popular is that the games are available to play on different platforms.
That might change with Microsoft’s recent attempt to buy Activision Blizzard.
However, even if Microsoft does pull through and is able to buy Activision, and thus the Call of Duty franchise, it’s likely that Activision will still have multiple platforms to develop for.
In particular, the Call of Duty games tends to release for Xbox, PlayStation, and PC.
While PlayStation’s future is in question, Activision will likely continue to produce games both for Xbox and PC.
As such, the company must develop the game for more than one platform.
This makes the game’s development a bit more expensive because it takes more time.
The requirements to play the game on an Xbox tend to be quite different than on a PC.
That’s even more true when the team is developing the game for different generations of the game.
A Call of Duty game isn’t going to receive the same development for the PS4 as the PS5, for example.
Since it becomes more expensive for Activision to develop the game for different platforms, the company needs to offset those costs with higher prices.
Call of Duty games are expensive because they’re made for different platforms which increases their development costs.
7. Brand Name
Even non-gamers have likely heard of Call of Duty before.
It’s the quintessential military-focused first-person shooter that arguably made the genre what it is today.
When people want to experience a realistic first-person shooter where they play someone involved with the military, Call of Duty is usually the first choice.
A lot of that comes down to the brand name.
While gamers will likely always find something wrong with a Call of Duty game, the quality they receive is usually worth the price.
In its early days, especially, Call of Duty developed its reputation for producing high-quality games featuring realistic military action.
It could create both great combat situations and emotional stories.
Since Activision built up its reputation for producing high-quality first-person shooters, it also became one of the standards.
A lot of people compare similar games to Call of Duty.
Call of Duty is thus a well-known brand.
Just like any well-known brand name, it’s able to charge higher prices for its products.
An indie team that produces a game exactly like Call of Duty may not be able to charge $70 for its game because it doesn’t have the brand recognition that Call of Duty does.
Call of Duty games are expensive because of their well-known brand name and franchise.
There’s no question that Call of Duty is also a very popular franchise.
Even with the fumbles that the franchise has made in the past, it has maintained its popularity.
Part of the reason is that there hasn’t been much competition in the market.
While there are other, similar, games to Call of Duty out there, they haven’t quite been able to match Call of Duty’s pace in the release of games.
As such, Call of Duty has remained popular among its fans.
That popularity also makes it expensive.
Activision knows that because its franchise is so beloved, it can charge $70 for its games.
The company knows that gamers are going to be willing to pay $70 because they want to play Call of Duty badly enough.
Call of Duty games are expensive because they’re popular.
9. Game Length
A major reason Call of Duty games are expensive as they are is how long they are.
Over the years, it’s taken longer and longer to beat a Call of Duty game.
Since they often feature PVP modes, there’s always new content available for players to keep playing the game.
The problem with long games is that they’re expensive to make.
The bigger the world is, the more time and money the company has to put into the game.
Since the costs are higher, the price of the game is going to be higher.
Call of Duty games are expensive because they tend to involve large worlds which are more expensive to develop.
Finally, Call of Duty games are expensive because of microtransactions.
Microtransactions can range anywhere from skins to in-game boosts that can impact a player’s performance.
Activision started using microtransactions in its games to jump on the microtransaction money train.
While some players can ignore microtransactions, others tend to spend a lot of money on them.
This is especially true when Call of Duty is having a limited release of certain digital products.
It pushes the players to buy the product before it’s gone forever.
As a result, you’re not only paying $70 to play the game, but you’re also potentially spending a large amount of money through microtransactions.
It makes Call of Duty even more expensive.
Call of Duty games are expensive because microtransactions can quickly add up if you keep purchasing them.