Shooting Without Looting
Today Activision announced an entirely new plan for post-launch support for upcoming shooter Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. First, the publisher confirmed in a blog post that there will be no loot boxes added after release, and “all new base weapons and functional attachments” will only be earned via gameplay. Naturally, this suggests that there will be an in-game store where you can buy cosmetic items and attachments, something Activision has also confirmed today. More importantly, the lack of loot boxes means Activision is pivoting towards a “battle pass” model, where players can earn extra content just by simply playing the game.
There will be both a free and paid version of the battle pass, and players can earn COD Points, the series’ premium currency. It’s also worth noting that Activision has no plans for the battle pass to be live when Modern Warfare launches next week. The stated reason is that the developers hope to give players a chance to work through all of the content available at launch, and also give those who don’t buy Modern Warfare on day one a chance to enjoy the base game as it was. The current plans are to have the battle pass live later this year.
Additionally, there will be no paid DLC packs, maps or otherwise, post-launch. Furthermore, all updates will launch simultaneously for all players, in an attempt to synchronize the game ecosystems. This is partly due to the fact that crossplay will be enabled for Modern Warfare for all platforms for the first time. Previously, there have been timed exclusivity deals with both Microsoft and Sony on their respective consoles, as well as promotions to help support Call of Duty throughout its lifecycle.
In recent years the trend towards free updates has permeated throughout the AAA industry. While Fortnite is far and away the biggest success story for the battle pass, shooters like Apex Legends and Battlefield V have trended more towards microtransactions and smaller, continual updates as opposed to larger ones. Call of Duty eschewing loot boxes in favor of a battle pass was just the latest and probably the biggest name to forgo the controversial boxes. This comes shortly after developer Infinity Ward stated that they weren't working on loot boxes, which prompted many skeptical remarks given how loot boxes were added to Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 months after release.
The move towards a battle pass (and not launching a season pass) certainly comes in response to the backlash that Black Ops 4 faced, as it made the map packs only available in the more expensive season pass, as opposed to a la carte, which was the business model in years prior. The muddled messaging and poor communication regarding the business change left many longtime fans angry and confused. Thankfully, instead of trying again to combine all players under the season pass, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is doing away with it entirely. We’ll see how it shapes up when Call of Duty: Modern Warfare launches next week, on October 25th.