Call of Duty
Photo Credit: Kienan Lafferty

The Rise and Fall of Call of Duty on Twitch

Call of Duty. Such a common name, is it not? Love it or hate, Call of Duty is undoubtedly one of the biggest multiplayer games of all time for the last 11 years. The name alone is already a staple to the non-gaming demographic, that once they hear it, they know it’s this dumbed down, violent, senseless killing spree of a video game that mainstream media always targets as the center for a child’s cause of violence in and out of his household. Call of Duty is really a super powerhouse at this point that it cannot topple down from its tower, no matter the quality that Activision keeps on releasing to the mass of gamers globally on a yearly basis.

In today’s article, we’ll be focusing on its influence in the realm of Twitch—from when it peaked to the point where everyone just gave up watching and the time when it always builds up momentum whenever CoD Pro League comes into play.

Call of Duty’s rise to fame on Twitch began as early as the good old days of 2011, starting with Modern Warfare 3. In fact, during that time, MW3 was considered one of the most viewed video games at the time, just trailing behind viewership from DotA 2 and League of Legends. It had peaked at 5,000 views, which was considered a very high number during those years.

Modern Warfare 3 was a regular title to be seen in the younger years of Twitch, showcasing casual gameplay on multiplayer as well as some streamers showcasing their mastery of the game’s campaign mode on the hardest difficulty, Veteran. It was also an enjoyable stream channel to look forward to, especially when streamers brought along their buddies to play in a 2-player co-op mode that had nothing but chaos and lots of laughs.

Its biggest exposure, however, began in the holidays of 2012 with the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. The following year, the game peaked to as high as 12,000 viewers. It was regarded by many, especially pro players, as the best and most balanced multiplayer title for the professional CoD tournaments. It was for numerous reasons: it didn’t have any killstreaks but rather scorestreaks where you earn killing perks and map exposure for settling with objectives rather than just blindly killing other players. It was also considered to have the best maps for the competitive scene too, such as the fast-paced Hijacked map, the community-favorite Nuketown (in 2025 edition), Plaza and Magma. It didn’t have any of the fancy wallrides or jumpjets at all. Just the regular quick gameplay but with some more skillful and tactical approaches than what the game had the years before. Not to mention, the old-favorite Zombies mode came back with fresh new maps and new stories to unravel. That alone was a hit in the Twitch community.

2013 to 2014 weren’t as hot as they were during the previous years: with the constant annual release of CoD and with 2013’s Ghosts widely known for being one of the weakest in the franchise, this also affected the CoD Twitch community too. Who wouldn’t be upset about it after Activision kept on bragging how everything was so “next-gen” in CoD Ghosts when they delivered exactly the same as they always have in the past games. 2014 saw the rise of CoD Advanced Warfare—a more futuristic approach that felt more like Black Ops 2 again with more technology to fiddle in the multiplayer. It also featured zombies too. Oh, and it had John Malkovich and Kevin Spacey so I guess that’s nice. Yet, despite the celebrities, the count on regular viewers was not as many as it was in 2012 to mid-2013. The highest it had during that time was 4,000 viewers on regular days. If it’s a pro league, it turns into 25,000, which is still low considering it’s an esports event.

2015 was the return of Black Ops with its 3rd iteration of the series. Fans were eager to see how the new mechanics, as well as some that were derived from Advanced Warfare, would change up some notches in the newest Black Ops—it had wall-riding, robot avatars, new and faster gadgets and scorestreaks and everything else that is very “Cawadoodee”. Its peak reached 11k on normal days and 32,000 on esports event.

2016 began its lowdown again; after all the hate spewed on Infinite Warfare, the influence took its toll on the CoD community too. Its main opponent, Battlefield 1, surpassed so much more viewers on Twitch with 60,000 unique audiences spectating the WWI fiasco while IW only got to 4,000 at peak.

2017 to current, CoD WWII has been on the lowest point—the peak being just 8,000 and on regular days, it’s just around 2,000 viewers. Why? Because the Twitch community despises everything politically correct. And in the case of WWII, it was the most SJW-riddled world war II game ever made. The fans didn’t like it nor did the lootboxes (which could have had potential to wow the viewers but end up to be meh).

Now with Black Ops 4 soon, it might have that pull in the audience count that Activision desperately wants to see their game compete with other top games…unless they ruin the only good series in the whole Call of Duty era.