Earlier in the week, Polygon reported that CoD would be be stripping its campaign away with its next release, BO4, according to sources.
This has gotten a massive range of response, and everyone’s talking about it, from Australia’s ScreenPlay to Kotaku.
But Why Does Anyone Care?
The community CoD has is dwindling, especially in Australia where we generally have less players, and especially considering the disparity between platforms and age groups. Not to say that the concerns of the community are nullified by this, but it just doesn’t seem like it should be as celebrated as it used to be.
As far as sensationalism goes, most of CoD’s YouTubers have moved on to other stuff – particularly Fortnite today, but in the past they’ve moved on to MOBA’s and Hero Shooters, like LoL or Overwatch.
It’s not like CoD even translates well into the Modern Game Market anyway. An $80 price tag for a Short Campaign, Multiplayer (limited unless you have the +$80 Season Pass) and Zombies Mode (Again, limited unless you have the +80 Season Pass), compared to adversaries like Fortnite: BR, which is free, Overwatch, which although is only Multiplayer, receives continual support from Blizzard, and CS:GO ($15 when not on Sale).
The way I’ve seen it for a while is that every CoD is an expansion pack.
This is all off topic. what I’m getting at with these points is that CoD’s not doing anything particularly edgy when the campaign is rumoured to be removed – It’s reading the market.
Does the Campaign even Matter?
We can get bogged down in subjectivity until the end of time and debate what was the last good CoD campaign – it’s not a fun argument to have, but I just want to address how much emphasis Activision puts on their campaigns.
I guess this much.
But that’s it. 12 missions of a gritty war story – after that you can play on higher difficulties or go back for collectibles, or you can play the multiplayer or zombies.
I’ll give Activision’s development studios credit where it’s due, CoD has always been beautiful in its graphics department, Voice Actors have typically been incredibly talented, the score has always been memorable and controls have always been tight, but lets not forget what CoD really markets itself as – a Multiplayer game.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare turned heads in 2007 when it released on the next gen consoles of the time, the PS3 and the XBox One, with a tight Multiplayer experience coupled with unique progression systems and intense matching. Since this release Activision’s development studios have replicated the experience with varying levels of success across different settings with different elements factored in – such as the recently voided Exosuits, but even further back, the tanks in World at War.
When World at War released in the next year, it brought with it the now signature Zombies Mode, which also turned heads – a wave-based survival experience that hadn’t been done like it was before. This would later become Treyarch’s staple alternate mode for CoD, whilst Infinity Ward was still experimenting with its Spec Ops Arcade and later its Survival Mode.
This Timeline Matters…
With Sledgehammer games becoming the third addition to the Activision Development Studio cycle with its development of Advanced Warfare, Activision had realized the formula to the user experience in CoD…
- It needs to be Multiplayer
- It needs to have Zombies
- It needs to have progression
- It needs to flaunt something different with each release, being a setting or mechanic
This being said, the above CoD formula was decorated in greed through its Season Pass, Lootbox system, and Customization Options, mirroring its competition at the time – I recognize the perfecting of this formula, coupled with greedy business strategies, as CoD’s beginning of the end.
None of this timeline included story.
We’ve never recognized CoD for its Campaign above Multiplayer or Zombies. Sure the campaigns have had epic moments, well done action sequences and interesting plot points, but can anybody really say that’s the reason they stuck around?
When CoD is marketed for its November release, the first thing revealed is the Setting, followed by Story, followed by Multiplayer, and then the alternate mode, which has been Zombies for 4 years now.
After the story is shown, almost the entirety of marketing is put towards the multiplayer experience. That’s where the money is for Activision, and that’s why people still buy into the series.
Could a Lack of a Campaign be a good thing?
I think so. CoD’s biggest competition right now are the easily accessible multiplayer games – things like Fortnite, CS:GO and PUBG that don’t require massive system resources to run and are fairly cheap, and the commonality between these games is that they’re campaign-free.
I welcome Activision to try new things for their franchise – seasonal events are something I’ve been wanting from CoD for a long time, but more than anything, I think CoD needs to carry less bulk and be cheaper.
It’s not 2007 anymore.