In brief: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is not making the sort of headlines Activision Blizzard hoped for: potentially the lowest rated game of the entire series, UK boxed sales down 25%, one of Metacritic's worst games of 2023, and reports that it was made in half the time as other entries in the franchise.
The latest entry in the Call of Duty series was supposed to be a "premium expansion" for last year's Modern Warfare 2 before it turned into a full standalone product. Judging from its reception, Activision might be wishing it had stuck to the original plan.
COD: Modern Warfare 3 currently has a Metacritic score of just 50, a long way off the series' previous lowest-scoring entry - 2021's Call of Duty: Vanguard, which has a score of 73. A few more positive incoming scores could push this higher, but with the last three critics rating the game at 40, 55, and 40, things aren't looking good. The user score, meanwhile is an abysmal 1.5.
It's worth noting that a number of the Metacritic scores are from in-progress reviews that mainly look at the heavily criticized campaign, which is very short (it can be finished in three to five hours) and uses assets from previous games, so there's a chance the multiplayer mode will help boost MW3's overall score.
Part of the problem could be that the latest CoD game was developed in less than a year and a half, whereas most entries in the series take about three years from start to finish, according to Bloomberg. Perhaps uncoincidentally, low-scoring Vanguard was also made with a much shorter development time than usual.
In addition to the stress of a reduced 16-month development time, there was reportedly initial confusion among some of the Sledgehammer Games development team about whether they were working on a MW 2 expansion or a standalone sequel.
Even with all the issues and bad reviews, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is still number one in the UK Boxed Game charts, despite sales being down 25% YoY. It's also a top seller on Steam, where it has a Mostly Negative rating.