Rarely a trailblazer, Call of Duty is following another recent trend and is this time adding in post launch microtransactions in it's newest entry into the series Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. While the recently released C.O.D.E. Warriors Personalization Pack is designed to support their charitable efforts, the newest addition is about supporting the game itself. Last week, Treyarch provided a look at the Black Market, where through play you unlock Cryptokeys which get you supply drops for cosmetics such as taunts, camos, and calling cards. This week however, the evolution of the system continued with the announcement of Call of Duty Points.
Call of Duty Points are your pretty standard premium currency in many ways, designed to allow players to purchase drops. In particular Call of Duty Drops let you buy Rare Supply Drops (which normally cost 30 cryptocoins), or Vials of Liquid Divinium (in Zombies). The drops remain exactly the same no matter how they are purchased and remain entirely cosmetic. You can also use Call of Duty Points to unlock other in-game content such as the Extra Slots pack. For a limited time, all players are receiving a one time gift of 200 Call of Duty Points if you play online. How long this offer will last is not known with Activision stating 'while supplies last' in their release.
For those wondering, 200 Call of Duty Points (CP) will buy you 1 Rare Supply Drop or 3 Vials of Liquid Divinium. Alternatively 300 points will unlock 5 Extra Slots for customizing classes, and various other things like emblems, paint jobs, gunsmith variations, screenshots, films, or custom games. The prices for the microtransactions are as follows:
- $1.99 for 200 CP
- $9.99 for 1100 CP
- $19.99 for 2400 CP
- $39.99 for 5000 CP
The news comes along with an announcement of an update to the Black Market as they are adding in some new items as they are want to do. There are three new melee weapons available through supply drops: the Butterfly Knife, Wrench, and Brass Knuckles. While they function like the Combat Knife and can be quipped as your secondary weapon, each offers their own look and feel. There are also a variety of other updates such as new calling cards, 12 new gestures and taunts, 18 new specialist themes and an Epic rarity Camo. It even got its own trailer, which doesn't mention Call of Duty Points anywhere in ithttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSPlu9Wzw7Q
Like the Black Market itself, Call of Duty Points are only available in the PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 versions of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3.
Call of Duty is following in the path here of games like Killing Floor 2, Payday 2, and Metal Gear Solid 5 (Geesh it's all sequels that do this... oh wait Destiny did too) in adding microtransactions after launch. In this case it appears to be pretty benign, pay to get more cosmetics quicker unlike the original release of the Payday 2 system or the way Metal Gear Solid 5 has been going down. What concerns me here personally in many ways is that this is yet another game doing this after launch and thus attempting to avoid scrutiny on it at the launch period when most of the games sales are made thus removing information consumers may have wanted to make a fully informed decision. This is a trend that in my opinion needs to stop - if you plan on supporting your life cycle with microtransactions post launch - okay I understand servers and updates cost money. Be up front about it, don't do an end around reviews and early adopters and make the customers feel like they bought something that wasn't what it became.
From a balance perspective there are two potential concerns. In normal multiplayer the first is that a player may be able to bring a greater variety of weapons due to unlocking extra slots. This isn't a huge boost from my limited knowledge of CoD but worth noting. More noteworthy though is the ability to purchase an unending supply of Gobblegums in Zombie mode. By putting this in there they've made a large power up significantly more available to those who are willing to spend money and could impact the play experience and leaderboard.
Also: can we make a rule here that you're not allowed to say 'while supplies last' when talking about a virtual currency you created? I mean... there's no limited supplies. You've decided how long it will last, just say it.