OPINION: Call of Duty remains top dog

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Look at screenshots, videos or even packshots for Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3, and you'd be hard-pressed to tell them apart.

Shadowy men stood in urban landscapes besieged by war. On the cutting edge of video games, it seems the year's hot ticket titles are fighting a battle to become the most generic, not sell the most.But in the end, despite all the bluster from EA, Call of Duty will remain as victor.

The Call of Duty XP event last week may have been for American fans but it was a global reminder from Activision that this is the modern market's top dog. If the publisher is feeling any pressure at all from Battlefield, it certainly wasn't showing it in Los Angeles.

Call of Duty is not just your average games franchise. As Activision and many of the series' developers proudly declare, the brand has moved beyond ‘just' games. Now it's a lifestyle. It's a social network and online service. It's a mobile app. It's a weekend away for paintball, off-road Jeep rides and a Kanye West concert. In all, it has every part of the industry covered.

Retail, DLC, social, mobile, and live events.Brand managers, take note. It's not just about quality, it's about quantity – have you got everything covered to fully engage your most passionate fans for every single day of the year?

SQUARE PEGI IN A ROUND HOLE?

Online and mobile games are no longer the new world – they are established territory in gaming's daily evolution.

Sure, there's lots to explore, but the few rules have been written.I'm not sure those rules include age ratings like the ones PEGI and UKIE have so keenly built and enforced so well.

Adding PEGI to Windows Phone games provides consistency between smartphone and console. It even, you could argue, give mobile games some cred. A PEGI rating offers the halo effect of ‘proper' content found in-store.

But Windows Phone is a minority platform right now. iOS and Android are the big leagues, and they have their own systems for this stuff.In the way nature abhors a vacuum, marketplaces led by creativity and quick-thinking business abhors red tape.

PEGI, no matter how Express, is another layer of administration. Publishers may be built for such paperwork – two-man bedroom coder teams are not.PEGI may want to see its respected ratings applied to the likes of App Store and Android Marketplace.

But I'd wager the shoot-from-the-hip mobile games developers that have defined those platforms are less keen. Let alone the innovative but fiercely independent firms that run them, Apple and Google.Michael French

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