The loot boxes will take the form of Cases and be available from either natural play or in-app purchases via the Black Market and apply to multiplayer and Blackout. Treyarch have confirmed they will be cosmetic only, though this did not stop them/Activision from eventually including weapons in loot boxes in previous games.
Loot boxes have been a part of Call of Duty for a long while with WWII even infamously and rather erroneously dropping them in front of you and other players onto the beaches of Normandy to instil a feeling of FOMO, because respect.
This is another step too far for a game that’s already tested the patience in how it monetises its experience. Not only is Black Ops 4 a full price game, but the addition of a pricey Season Pass that gated off content on day one, the introduction of the Black Market, and also direct purchases for specific goods already felt like overkill. Black Ops 4 also introduced COD Points (microtransactions) shortly after launch, which was seen as a cynical move by many as a way of avoiding bad press from reviewers.
This move could also be explained as a result of Activision trying to recoup some of the money from the game’s lower than expected sales.
To clarify, Black Ops 4 generated half a billion dollars in its opening weekend, which was still seen as a disappointment by Activision and their shareholders. Activision even recently said that Black Ops 4 had underperformed in the second half of the quarter, despite the fact that it had almost assuredly far surpassed half a billion dollars in revenue by that point.
Loot boxes have been slightly normalised over the past two weeks with the huge debut of Apex Legends, which surged to 25 million players in a short space of time. Its main method of monetisation is loot boxes via Apex Coins, though the free-to-play nature of the game counterbalances this somewhat, but it isn’t without its own issues and detractors. Black Ops 4, meanwhile, is a full-priced AAA game with enough methods of monetisation as is. This is a short-sighted move if there ever was one: Apex Legends is the most direct competition to Blackout and yet another shaking of the coffers will only push players away from Blackout and Black Ops 4 as a whole.
In other news, Activision Blizzard recently fired 800 members of staff despite earning record highs in revenue. Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, has been widely lambasted for boasting about the high figures while laying off so many employees almost in the same breath with him not also earning himself many fans by taking home an outrageous paycheck.
But at least Call of Duty will finally get its single-player campaign back, right?
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