What's With All The War Video Games?

In the 1940s, 1950s and right on through the 1960s, Hollywood churned out war epic after war epic. Sure, we still get war movies, but Hollywood isn't exactly popping them out bam bam bam. Video game developers are. But why?

Let's get the obvious out of the way — these games make serious dough.

"Business leaders have an opportunity to... reverse an alarming trend of not recognising the sacrifices made by the men and women of our military service," CEO Robert Kotick tells Victor Godinez at the Dallas Morning News. Business leaders also have the opportunity to make a gajillion dollars on the backs of those sacrifices.

But, that's being jaded — perhaps too jaded. Video games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare have not been critical of the military like many war films of this past decade have. What's more, war, for better or worse, is an ideal setting for a video game. There's conflict, shooting, objectives — the laundry list goes on and on.

As Godinez points out, video games are filling that gap left by Hollywood.

"The last Brothers in Arms video game," developer Randy Pitchford says, "if that was a movie shot in live action, could never exist because it would cost a billion dollars."

Video games take command of war epics as movies retreat from recent conflicts [Dallas Morning News]


    Wars work so well for video games (and movies/books etc) because they play to such a range of emotions and genres. Action, drama, patriotism, sadness, happiness, love, war, compassion, violence and all the rest.
    The stuff almost writes itself! Easy for the developers to awaken an interest in something that can effect, or jebus save us, does effect people.

      Or, it's fun to kill bad guys.

      I've bought into war games as much as anyone else out there, but it would be nice to have something different. Mind you, between war games and Guitar Hero 6, I'll take another WW2 game thanks.

        totally. Music games with those ridiculous plastic instruments are for dropkicks

    I understand why they are based in the World Wars, but still... it's too overused. 1 in 5 games, by my count, are based in World War 2. Now it just feels like all sports games; the same game released again and again, with only subtle differences.

    I thought 'kudos' to Call of Duty for Modern Warfare. But then came World at War. Then Modern Warfare was branded outside of the base CoD series, implying the next Call of Duty will be, once again, in World War 2. Yes, it was the biggest event known to mankind, but we aren't shown the event, are we? We are shown the same battles of the war over and over again.

    If I have to be subjected to more WWII games, I would like to play the story of some of the unappreciated warriors, such as the Greeks. Those guys fought 3 ARMIES AT ONCE. If it wasn't for Greece, the Italians probably wouldn't have been defeated. These guys were amazing for the Allies, and yet people only remember the British and the Americans.

    I'm just saying, World War 2 is overdone, but more than that the same parts of it are overdone. It really wouldn't be so bad if Australia or Greece got a game. Call of Duty: Kokoda... hmm...

    Why would it cost a billion dollars if Hells Highway WAS a movie? PS Hells Highway is one of my favorite games. Brilliant shooting mechanic and characters affected psychologically by war.

    I have a feeling that the real reason is laziness.

    Think about the work that goes into developing a fiction based FPS game, even something as simple and generic as Halo. You have to build the story with interesting protagonists and antagonists with plausible motivations, decide on and design a realistic setting, design cool weapons & vehicles that have interesting properties and far more.

    Compare that to a real-war FPS' development cycle: the 501st airbone with M1s & tommy guns vs evil satan nazis with MP40s at normandy. Okay thats the story, characters, equipment and location research done. Lets watch saving private ryan, calling it research if anyone complains and have cake.

    Sometimes you can swap out the 501st for a generic 'L0l, americanz iz teh heroez!!1' squad, probably featuring a black soldier with an interest in rap, give it modern guns and make the enemy generic brown people or at least someone who speaks foreignese. Its still the same lazy shit.

    See, now THAT'S being jaded!

    I see that bobby kotick is starting a new nefarious scheme to become the most hated man alive, wonder what this one will end up as. Maybe War Hero where you get weekly DLC featuring the real last moments of an actual soldier.

    Few things. First, Hollywood made a crapload of WW2 films in the late 40s-50s (John Wayne in particular).

    Second, like it or not, it's the only epic war of the last hundred years that (importantly) had relatively modern weapons. Hence, fun for gamers to play. Most other wars have been too one sided (Korean) or too hard to turn into a playable game (Vietnam, although I think that could be done by a good developer).

    WW1 would be interesting to me, but the comparatively archaic weaponry would turn a lot of people off. And we all saw with the Six Days in Fallujah brouhaha that very recent conflicts just won't get made.

      korean war, one sided? what are you talking about? you do realise the country was split in two afterwards.

    It would be interesting to see what genre's followed war film in cinema, and the likelihood of games following the same suit should we one day reach a saturated market.

    WW2 games are churned out like crazy because they require close to 0 originality. Everything is already done for you basically; guns, vechiles, setting, etc.

      This. You can only do so much with a game that events are already set; you already know how all the conflicts will end. It won't stop it from being fun, and there are a lot of conflicts to replay, but it doesn't offer anything new. Sure, you could drive vehicles, etc, but you can't introduce anything because everything's already set.

    war is the only situation where killing people is allowed/reasonable and most of the games are all about killing

    Well they may be getting truck loads of money from making all the War games but I can say that they are not getting any of mine.
    I am totally over War simulation games and have been ever since CoD. I don't care how good they make them they are just boring to me and in my opinion its time they started creating PC games with a lot more initiative and creativity, such as Prey and the like.
    More Dues Ex anyone?

    War, huh, what is it good for, making lots of money, say it again now!

    War, huh, good god y'all, what is it good for, killing lots of AI, say it again now!

    War, huh, what is it good for...

    Absolutely nothing after that.

    Oh yeah, it's fun to kill lots of people. Not gonna bother making a song reference to that.

    It's because video games suck at portraying any sort of inner conflict (only example I can really think of is Shadow of the Collosus).

    All the verbs we have in a game are things involving outer conflict: running, jumping, shooting, killing; and the epitome of outer conflict is war.

    It's kind of sad really.

    War games are made because people a violent and like guns and gore. Being able to interact with that is a great thing for many people because it allows them to relax and let off some (or a lot) of steam.

    War games also let people be the hero in ways they probably wouldn't be able to do normally or that they normally wouldn't want to do. Nothing like feeling like a complete badass after punching down a wave of faceless Nazi's to defend Abraham Lincon to recover your ego after a bad day.

    War games will always be popular in the mass market because of what i outlined above but for core gamers war games are getting old fast. Many gamers now want an excellent story and atmosphere, they want to be able to relate well with the characters and they want games which surprise them. This is the reason why some of the most critically acclaimed games of this decade have been Bioshock, Arkham Asylum, SoTC, ICO and HL2. All of these games are praised for their originality in some area or their beautiful and immersive atmospheres.

    Also Bobby Kotick was spurting bullshit about recognising veterans. He isn't spouting war games to recognise their services to the country. He's spouting off these war games so he can swim in a pool of liquid gold which he had hired scientists to keep cool enough to swim in.

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