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In its first five days, Call of Duty: Warzone battle royale has seen over 15 million unique players. This doesn’t include the users who have downloaded the game but haven’t yet played. Clearly, Activision’s marketing strategy that mimics that of Apex Legends has worked out thus far. Although, the biggest reason for Warzone‘s success has been the free-to-play model implemented. Anyone on any Call of Duty-compatible system can download the game regardless of if they own Modern Warfare. Appreciated by most in the community, this was obviously the right decision. However, could it also have an effect on future titles in the series?
Call of Duty could be shaped by Warzone
Every Call of Duty title since the original Modern Warfare has cost $60 at launch and well beyond that for special editions or additional content. In the past, this price was standard for the gaming community, and developers often made it worth the players’ while.
Although, this has somewhat changed in recent years with the addition of loot crates and microtransactions. Sixty dollars now gets you the base game with a lot of other content locked behind paywalls. Though, Modern Warfare has been better about this since its release in October.
Of course, another trend developed recently to steer away from this strategy. Many developers are now launching their games as free to play, with Fortnite and Apex Legends the prime examples. Warzone followed suit and has seen more success on release than either of those titles. Activision also launched the free Call of Duty: Mobile last year to overwhelming success as well.
So, Activision has two huge hits on its hands, and both have come as a result of being free to play. In the future, could we see the publishers turn to this model for the main games in the Call of Duty series? Warzone has shown that this is what the community craves — a game that’s complete at launch with cosmetic microtransactions only.
However, if there’s one thing we know about Activision, it’s that it likes money. So, would it be a worthwhile investment in their eyes to release COD titles as free to play every year? That’s unclear, but it is clear that the community would respond in kind if this were to occur.
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Joey Carr is a full-time writer for multiple esports and gaming websites. He has 6+ years of experience covering esports and traditional sporting events, including DreamHack Atlanta, Call of Duty Championships 2017, and Super Bowl 53.