Electronic Arts has been notorious for being one of those huge money-grubbing corporations that doesn’t care whatsoever for its gaming fanbase and only looks for the next big paycheck and cash haul. Activision, until relatively recently, at least seemed to care about the fans despite still cashing in on plenty of expensive DLC. No more.
Black Ops 4 in its entirety has been an experiment in monetizing games. I remember several years ago when Dead Space 3 (courtesy of EA) was getting tons of critiques of how it had made microtransactions such an integral part of the experience. Black Ops 4 launched with less microtransactions in it in order to sneakily get great reviews, then slowly but surely has added more and more as the weeks and months have gone by. Black Ops 4 quickly became ‘Spend Extra Money on What Should’ve already been Included in the $60 edition: The Game.’
Battlefield V has largely been a flop so far for EA in terms of sales so perhaps they’ll actually rein themselves in on the whole ‘spend this to get this to get this’ mindset. Black Ops 4 has been a flop in terms of quality and yet the money is still gushing so Activision could care less. Gone are the days when Infinity Ward and Treyarch- especially Treyarch, would listen to the community and implement features or fixes as necessary. I’ve seen the same problems talked about since LAUNCH that have yet to be fixed as of right now. Literally to this moment. Server disconnects with absolutely no warning? Still an issue months later. A horde of minor inconveniences and issues that add up to completely ruin the fun? Also still present.
The developers have spent apparently no time whatsoever in fixing the issues that still plague the game and instead push out DLC and monetized content at an unprecedented pace. Oh, you want us to fix the servers and the glitches and the lag and the actual gameplay balancing issues inherent in the game? How about we offer you some reticles that you can buy for real world money with points you can only get through spending your money? Why even put CoD points in at all when there’s no way to earn them? Just tell us how much $$ the downloadable content is and be out with it.
Admittedly, even I am not helping the case because I have purchased several items and points. However I’ve already clearly got it in my head that because this specific CoD title seems to be getting plenty more money out of me even beyond the season pass and maps than in the past, I will not be pruchasing the next several entries into the franchise until the quality improves or they remove useless editions and additions. I think it’s less an issue on Treyarch’s part and more an issue of Activision instructing them to charge gamers an arm and a leg to recoup money they might’ve potentially lost in Destiny 2 (where Bungie actually cares about the community and even went so far as to leave Activision).
Typically in the past, it seemed as if Treyarch and the other developers actually stuck up for fans and would push as much content into each DLC pack as possible and limit the additional payments outside of those expensive packets. Those days have been gone for a while now with the whole supply drop debacle (thanks Sledgehammer) between the Advanced and Infinite Warfare games. Black Ops 3 was a taste of what was to come and despite being a fun game Black Ops 4 is the worst the series has yet to see in terms of decision making and easily avoidable design flaws. I’ve never seen a game so promising held back by the sheer need to make an exorbitant amount of money.
Call of Duty, like an sports franchise, is a series built upon success through first quality and now just name association and money itself. Since Call of Duty: Ghosts, the quality in the titles have been largely lackluster and hit or miss. Franchise fatigue is to be expected in a series that’s been going almost annually since its inception, but Activision has really determined that they’re going to run the juggernaut into the ground and reap the benefits. If the issues that persist in this title in terms of quality aren’t addressed in the next several patches, I am positive that there will be a much more noticeable dip in player numbers.
Bringing things back around to why EA is so notorious for not listening to its fans- look no further than the annual installments of Madden. Each year they take away popular features, add the tiniest adjustments and proclaim that they are valuable updates, and charge the same full price despite the barely cosmetic increase in quality. They could easily produce the same rushed content as DLC for a few years until an actual technically advanced engine or other fresh ideas emerge and then create a new version of the game that’s more than an update and rinse/repeat. Call of Duty can’t follow that formula and they definitely shouldn’t follow in any of EA’s footsteps. Listen to the fanbase to a degree. At least in terms of fixing issues in your game.
I laughed at an article I recently read from a big name industry outfit that proclaimed “Black Ops 4 had the smoothest first quarter and launch of any Call of Duty game ever.” Not only did that elicit a chuckle from me at the sheer irony and wrongness, but it made me wonder just how much Activision shelled out to get good reviews before completely shitting on the fans of their game. Implementing a tier system based upon time and not actually upon skill, experience, or gameplay? Check. Giving casual fans the option to purchase the additional weapons and whatnot locked behind that tier system that should’ve been openly included in the DLC packages they already purchased? Check. In Black Ops 4, unless you have no job or social life and are able to play a year’s worth of games in the one to three month time period of each ‘season,’ you will not unlock content without paying for it. You’re paying for a game in order to pay for a season pass and playlist locked maps and content in order to pay for already purchased content you now have to either grind or purchase to earn.