Why Do Call of Duty Pro Players Use Controller?

share to other networks share to twitter share to facebook
The Advantages of Controller in Call of Duty
Credit: Activision

Have you ever wondered why pro Call of Duty players play on controller? The vast and overwhelming majority of pro FPS gamers play on PC with mouse and keyboard, spread across games, but for CoD, the opposite is almost always true, outside of some Warzone players. If you've ever wondered why, not to worry, because in this article we'll explain why pro Call of Duty players use controller.

The Advantages of Controller in Call of Duty

The Advantages of Controller in Call of Duty 2
click to enlarge
+ 3
Credit: Activision

In competitive multiplayer shooters, there's a tendency to put an almost exclusive emphasis on accuracy. This holds true for games like Valorant, Counter-Strike, or Rainbow Six Siege amongst many more. You need to hit your shots, and that's the most important thing, outside of strategy and team-play which are also a must.

Advertisement

In Call of Duty, things are a little different. There's a huge emphasis put on movement, and accuracy is sort of sidelined with a routine suite of weapons that don't have much in the way of recoil and kill players in just a few shots alongside powerful perks, equipment, and killstreaks you can use to give yourself advantages over other players.

Related: Call of Duty SBMM Guide: How to Get Easy Lobbies in Modern Warfare, Warzone, Cold War, and Vanguard

Of course, you'll need to hit your shots, but you want to outmaneuver your opponents and out-position them more than you want to challenge everyone head-on to an aim off, because health is so low in CoD and servers tend to be unreliable amongst many other things, so there's always going to be a good chance that even with better aim, someone else will take you down first.

This isn't to say that tactics and movement aren't important in other games, especially other games that are esports, but it is to say that in CoD weapons are especially arcadey and easy to handle while health is usually especially low with constant access to powerful loadouts, so there's more of an emphasis on movement and positioning over accuracy than there is in games like Counter-Strike or Valorant.

On controller, movement is easier, and oftentimes, so is hip-firing, which is especially useful when on the go. Plus, techniques like dropshotting, slide-cancelling, jumpshotting, and sprint-cancelling tend to be less invasive and a bit easier to do on controller. Of course, you can do all this on mouse and keyboard, but when you pair this with aim assist that makes hip-firing even better and shots easier to connect at distance, it becomes an attractive input method.

Related: Cheating in Call of Duty Isn’t as Big a Problem as You Think

PC Players in CoD

The Advantages of Controller in Call of Duty 3
click to enlarge
+ 3
Credit: Activision

At the most generous estimate, since exact numbers are hard to come by, is that 30% of the CoD population is one PC. All of these players, inevitably, won't play on mouse and keyboard, but there is a small community of console gamers that play on mouse and keyboard. All in all, maybe 25% (and probably less) of players in a given CoD game play on PC. Suffice it to say that the overwhelming majority of CoD players are on console, and this has only been more true in the past.

Advertisement

So, since most use controller, and if you started playing CoD a while ago you probably started on controller, the game itself has something of a reputation of being a controller game. Plus, when competing, many are more concerned with being on an equal playing field and playing with everyone else, which would necessitate you play on controller over a mouse and keyboard.

This is especially true in recent years as while the CDL has moved to PC, they require players to use controller, so if you want to play like a pro, you play on controller. In the past, this wasn't a rule, as older CoD esports were played on console at times when mouse and keyboard support wasn't a thing in CoD. Before PC/console crossplay, CoD on PC was a very niche thing, as lobbies would quickly fail to fill up soon after a game's release.

Related: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II Spec Ops Confirmed, But What About DMZ

Call of Duty's Legacy

The Advantages of Controller in Call of Duty 4
click to enlarge
+ 3
Credit: Activision

Beyond most CoD players being on controller and esports being played on console for much of the franchise's history, and even beyond the advanced movement potential of controller and the CDL mandate to use a controller in recent years, CoD has been designed as a controller-first game for decades.

Advertisement

Why can you only carry around two weapons? Well, it's the most natural thing without hotkeys to bind to specific weapons. Why are there so many contextual actions in CoD, like doing multiple things with the same button in different scenarios? Well, so controllers with limited buttons can handle complex processes. Why's there an emote wheel? Well, wheels are easier for analog sticks.

These kinds of design decisions underly a lot of the bedrock gameplay of Call of Duty games, because these games are themselves designed with the expectation that 75%+ of the playerbase, which is millions and millions of people, will play with controller, so it only makes sense to design these games, first and foremost, to be played on controller. There's a reason why it can feel 'natural' to many to play CoD on controller outside of simple preference.

Related: Fortune's Keep, Warzone 2, and Free-to-Play CoD Will Divide the Call of Duty Playerbase

Yes, Call of Duty started on PC and has been on PC forever, and yes, of course, a mouse and keyboard is more accurate than a controller, and sure, PC players can pull off advanced movement at high levels, too. But for the kind of game CoD actually is, how its played, and what benefits controller has mean that many will actually prefer using controller, including the pros.