In the heat of the moment, the only thing that matters is whether your next shot finds its target. But every time you take into consideration your objectives, you’re taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. Do you need to capture another point to make sure your team isn’t being dominated? Should you defend the flag to stop the enemy from stealing it? This is all big-picture stuff, and you’re already thinking about it every time you play a game.
So if every individual gunfight in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is a battle, and each battle won or lost is just a small portion of the overall war that is a single match of Call of Duty. And as Milo Minderbinder and Sun Tzu alike would tell it, wars are won on logistics. So we took a step back even further to look at the logistics of a single round in CoD. How much money is spent on ammunition in a single match? We went through a battle, frame-by-frame, to tally it up.
BUYING A ROUND
To begin, we picked a game of 10v10 Domination on Grazna Raid, one of the more significant modes in the beta on a medium- to large-sized map and probably the most popular ‘normal’ Call of Duty mode available. It’s a larger version of a Call of Duty Classic. Ground War and Gunfight, the ‘abnormal’ modes, were chaotic and entertaining, but difficult to wrangle for these calculations.
We chose this round for two reasons. First, we wanted a round where a wide variety of equipment was used, and this match saw a lot of ordinance come out. The more equipment, the better, because what we quickly realised was that bullets alone are relatively cheap. Secondly, we were the kill leader for the round, which gave us a theoretical upper limit on kill efficiency. We could work downwards to calculate others’ frugality with bullets, and brag in the process.
The first thing we wanted to find out was how much the ammunition used by every player in a round cost, so efficiency was critical. We can’t count how many bullets other players used throughout a match. But we can calculate the shots we fired, and if we can create a baseline for efficiency, we can estimate how many bullets everyone else might have used.
So, we counted how many times we fired throughout a match, arriving at 226 bullets from my M4A1. Putting ourselves on myriad government watchdog lists, we dug up the cost of the 5.56 Nato rounds that we fired and found that they cost about $0.42 per round. (All costs are in USD)
Straight off the bat, we can see that throughout this match, we spent $94.92 on bullets alone. You could buy a used PlayStation Portable for that amount, and it’s the original Nintendo Switch Lite.
ABOVE AVERAGE G.I. JOE
With the M4 we scored 15 kills, which gives us an average of a little over 16 bullets per kill — about half a magazine per enemy. Modern Warfare has an extremely low Time-To-Kill, so half a magazine is actually pretty high, but there were a lot of speculative shots in the mix, so it is what it is. We finished the game on 27 kills, with four deaths, and the next highest kill total was 21.
If we assume there’s no Snipey McHeadshot below us with ridiculous accuracy, we can say the average is half a mag per kill and use this as a baseline for calculating bullet usage.
All tallied, 187 kills using regular guns were achieved in this particular round of Call of Duty, giving us a grand estimated total of 2,992 bullets fired, costing $1,256.64 all up. The M4 wasn’t the only weapon fired in this round, but the ammo used generally cost a similar amount across the board — some a bit more, some a bit less, but all extremely close to $0.42 a bullet. For $1256.64, you could become the lawnmower man and buy a Vive Index, plus a few games to boot. Worlds within worlds.
You point it at an aircraft, it locks on, and then you fire-and-forget, hoping exploding shrapnel doesn’t hit you when it’s falling. Three Strela missiles would cost you $68,100, around the cost of a brand new Tesla. And while “Strela” is an anagram for Tesla R, we’re afraid the only Tesla model $68,100 would buy you is a Model C. “Only.”
Four cruise missiles were called in–small potatoes compared to the UAVs. Yours in Call of Duty for the low price of just four kills in your killstreak (or five without Hardline), in real life they cost $1.5 million each, which means you could call in 45 of them and you still wouldn’t have spent more than those three UAVs.