I'll admit that I'm not a fan of the Call of Duty series. I have played the single player portion of Call of Duty 4, which I'll admit was quite good. However, I haven't played any of the successive games, mainly because every review I read boiled it down to "It's more of the same". While Modern Warfare was good, I really didn't have the apetite for more of it.
For a while, I was rather mad that these games continued to sell well despite their lack of innovation. I'm not going to go into details since I haven't played them, but after a while I got tired of people asking me if I had gotten the latest Call of Duty game after I mentioned I loved playing video games. Not only that, but it did send a wave of copycats through the industry. Battlefield 3's whole marketing campaign was "We're better than Call of Duty". Games like Bioshock 2 and Dead Space 2 had multiplayer shoehorned in because that was a large part of the reason why Call of Duty was so popular. Images have popped up showing screenshots from various shooters, nearly indistinguishable from one another. Call of Duty seemed everywhere, and still shows no signs of stopping, if Modern Warfare 3's sales numbers are any indication.
But this last year, I've realized that it's pointless to waste time complaining about these games. Yeah, they sell well. Yeah, publishers keep playing copycat in an attempt to draw in Call of Duty's fans. But does it really matter? This fall, we still got awesome games like Rayman Origins, Batman: Arkham City, and Driver: San Francisco. Portal 2 was still beloved despite the shooting only being there as a device to drive the puzzles. Skyrim was 100% single player, and still wound up being one of the top sellers of the year. We still get indie games like Bastion to wet our apetites. Who cares if Call of Duty sells better than all of them, if we still get what we want?
If shoehorned multiplayer winds up being a waste of time and resources, then the problem will fix itself: it'll be costly to develop and the online servers will be a waste of space. Look at the ho-hum reception to Bioshock 2, and look how great Bioshock Infinite is looking to be. People are hesitant about Mass Effect 3's design choices, such as the co-op and the option to skip gameplay altogether. If this really does hurt the overall experience, then the game's sales will likely reflect that. Would Mass Effect 3 being a disappointment really hurt your enjoyment of the first two games? Of course not. I was disappointed in Uncharted 3, but Uncharted 2 still remains one of my favorite Playstation 3 games.
What I'm saying is that this applies to games other than Call of Duty. If you think that the Zelda series is becoming too much of the same, then don't buy Skyward Sword! If you don't want to drop $60 on a single player game that's probably only worth a single playthrough, then wait for it to drop in price (as I did with Shadows of the Damned). Consumers need to vote with their money, and all their complaining about games on forums is useless if they'll just pony up the cash for it anyway (the Modern Warfare 2 "boycott" comes to mind). Don't like DLC? Don't buy it.
I can understand where some of the irritation comes from. Back when Black Ops was released, I met a guy who bought it immediately, and we had a conversation about it. When I said that the single player didn't appeal to me, he told me that he exclusively played the multiplayer. When I said that I didn't have many friends who played the game, and hated playing the game with strangers likely to hurl racial slurs at me, he told me that he turned the headset off all of the time. When I asked him how playing a multiplayer game is fun if you aren't actually interacting with people, he told me, "It's fun if I'm winning." I still don't understand that mindset.
For a while, Call of Duty bothered me because of how it encompassed everything. To most non-gamers, it and World of Warcraft are about the only games that exist. Whenever I brought up games like Assassin's Creed, Arkham Asylum, and Uncharted, I got confused looks. I always thought of those games as having the same exposure as blockbuster movies, but I'm continually proving wrong. However, lately, I find that games like Portal 2 and Skyrim are still infecting the public conciousness. It's easy to bring those up in conversations and have meaningful discussions. Call of Duty may be everywhere, but games are getting larger, and there's plenty to satisfy those deeply into the hobby.
However, someday I would like to meet another human being who's played Ghost Trick.