Hello and welcome back to Ai Cave. Well, the first part of the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Multiplayer Beta is over. After posting our video of the Black Ops 4 Beta review, I started working on the script for the next CoD video, but it start turning into more of a review for the actual game rather than the beta, so I decided to drop the project for right now. Instead, I decided to take a look at something that many people
aren’t paying attention to Activision’s marketing plan for the game coupled with their intent to pass the game off as a full priced title despite the fact it’s lacking a campaign. I think the best way to discuss this is to look back on CoD WW2 as an example.
How did Activision Succeed, where Electronic Arts Failed?
The modern gaming industry likes additional methods of monetization, the common trends currently being microtransactions and loot boxes. We all know this: Rockstar makes money in GTA online with ‘Shark Cards’, and you’ve got to be living under a rock to miss hearing about EA’s controversial methods. But let’s take a look at how Activision does this!
Everyone has heard about the scandals surrounding EA even aliens in a galaxy far, far away. At first, it was Battlefront 2. “Why is it” thought the executives at EA looking over the figures for their sales, “that Season Pass purchases are plummeting?” They then notice the sales report of the budding mobile gaming market, where players have long been accustomed to paying for every sneeze. “Well, we can’t be better than them.” – decided the people at EA and made the progression system in Battlefront 2 completely dependent on loot boxes. They, of course, needed to be either purchased for real money or slowly generated with in-game currency.
To open all of the Battlefront 2 content you needed to spend around 4500 hours. Only six months spent in the game.
But the audience of hardcore shooters is far from being the same as the fanbase of mobile farms that have long accepted their sad fate. First of all, because of the Reddit users, the project was criticized so much that EA was forced to apologize and keep re-designing the project for a long time after launch. In the end, of course, the game quietly died, as EA does not like to create content for free, and players do not really want to return to it after such a story.
Despite the loud promises of EA to revive Battlefront 2 with the introduction of Obi-Wan Kenobi and General Grievous. Especially since the content plans look incredibly miserable: for the summer, autumn and winter seasons. Only four heroes were promised, also a couple of maps and several skins for the characters.
The scandals did not end there, though. Realizing that the trick with loot boxes failed, EA decided to follow in the footsteps of Activision’s CoD: WW2 and turn Battlefield 5 into a game-service where money is made on sales of boxes with skins and seasonal activities. But even here, where it was necessary to act very subtly, EA started by showing the audience a video of Celtic-style men and women with prosthetics, that operated on the battlefields of World War II. All this is somewhat reminiscent of Overwatch.
This is all painted a vivid picture of Battlefield 5 and it said: look what kind of customization we have! We give you so many boxes with appearance items – you’ll drown in them!
But everything went south here too. Players started shouting about the lack of historical authenticity and obviously, all this clownery was not accepted. There’s a hashtag circulating around the web – #NotMyBattlefield. This disappointment was followed by dissatisfaction with the excessive difficulty of the gameplay from people who have already played in the alpha test.
So while EA, which is looking for ways to earn extra money, is fighting with the furious community, Activision quietly does everything that their main competitors sought so much. And succeeds at it.
Call of Duty: WWII
World War 2 came out as quite a good game. There was a good campaign, and a practical multiplayer, which returned to its roots. It’s no surprise that the new Call of Duty got quite good reviews after the release. And when the wave of satisfied journalists and players had already left Metacritic, Activision got down to business.
To understand what happened, you need to know how Call of Duty works.
Let’s make one thing clear: this is a game you buy for the money. In this game, you earn levels that unlock new guns. You can reach maximum level quite fast: usually within a few days of playing. Then the levels are reset, you get a couple of bonuses and start over again. Or you can skip the reset and run around with the full set of guns at your disposal.
Then, before the next installment in the franchise, four packs of downloadable contents are released. Each consists of four maps for multiplayer and one for zombies mode. Downloadable content is purchased separately, or as part of the season pass. This DLC, in fact, is an opportunity for veterans to play on new maps and prolong their experience with the game.
This time the game came out just like that. With leveling and classic progression. And with a season pass, obviously. But then the most interesting thing happened: there were seasonal events.
Each event has thematic modes, impressive packs of new skins and several new guns. Here’s the crux of the matter. These guns aren’t given for free anymore! They either randomly drop from seasonal boxes, or are bought for a huge amount of special currency. which is earned by performing daily and weekly tasks, or by destroying the duplicates. It is a long and painful process.
Do you see it? This is exactly the same system as in Battlefront 2. Especially since guns are usually extremely powerful, like for example, the sniper rifle, which kills with one hit to any part of the body. To get these types of guns, you must either accumulate a huge amount of currency, which means really play a lot at regular intervals for dailies or buying loot boxes.
From the weapons box bought with real money, you definitely will not get a duplicate. But from the ones which you had to, say, finish 25 games – you’ll get them quite often.
Moreover, when the event ends, you cannot buy those weapons anymore. You can then only count on boxes and your luck. Isn’t that similar to a casino? Yes, every day there is a task for one of the rare guns but in the overwhelming majority of cases, all you get are reskins of the standard weapons. It is also possible to try guessing and buy a contract for 5000 credits to get one of the new weapons. And this, in fact, is the easiest way to get something cool. But for this, it is necessary to constantly have some in-game currency and regularly check whether there is something you need.
As a result, people willingly buy weapon boxes. Also, do not forget about the huge number of colorful skins and the season pass that was not canceled. Daily tasks, boxes and paid progression – things for which fans tore at DICE’s throat, are quite suitable for the fans of the modern Call of Duty. So it will be interesting to see what kind of new marketing strategy Activision will come up with to monetize Black Ops 4 because as you remember, the new CoD will not have the story campaign, a Battle Royale mode.
That’s how you play everyone. While EA loudly screamed about its “innovations”, Activision quietly introduced new ways of monetization into their games, while provoking only admiration from fans. Well, congratulations Activision — truly well played!
Remember, that this video is mostly made from a marketing point of view but we at Ai Cave do not support these types of anti-consumer business practices used by Electronic Arts, Activision and other companies. At the same time, however, we also believe that consumers should speak with their wallets and purchase good games rather than resulting to piracy. If someone creates a great product, they should be rewarded.
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