Call of Duty Black Ops 4 doesn’t have a single-player campaign – but it does have an egregious season pass.
The Black Ops Pass, as it’s called, includes a bonus zombies experience available at launch, four additional zombies experiences, four exclusive Blackout (battle royale) characters and 12 multiplayer maps. Activision has yet to announce how much the Black Ops Pass will cost.
It’s the 12 multiplayer maps part that has Call of Duty fans shaking their heads, as it means Activision’s first-person shooter series continues to split its competitive-focused userbase between those who pay and those who don’t.
All this at a time when Call of Duty’s first-person shooter rivals such as Battlefield and Battlefront 2 release multiplayer maps for free. Even Destiny 2, which is also published by Activision, does not split its userbase when it comes to competitive multiplayer maps.
In a support FAQ, Activision confirmed players won’t be able to buy parts of Black Ops Pass content individually, like map packs from previous Call of Duty games. The contents in the pass can only be bought as a bundle, which hasn’t gone down well.
In the same FAQ, Activision asked itself the question: Why are you changing how DLC works? Its answer:
“We’re redefining the digital content season for Call of Duty Black Ops 4 by delivering more content with more frequency. In addition to the release of multiplayer maps, zombies experiences and Blackout content, Call of Duty Black Ops 4 players can also expect in-game content and themed events, creating a robust content season.”
As you’d expect, Call of Duty fans have attacked Activision for its season pass policy. The Black Ops 4 subreddit is currently packed with angry posts slamming the mega publisher. In response, a rep from Treyarch pointed to the developer’s continued support of Black Ops 3 as evidence of its commitment to players.
“I want to make it clear that we are very much listening to your thoughts, comments, and ideas. We know the r/ community is passionate and vocal, and it’s a place where we sincerely want to have a two-way conversation.
“We are absolutely committed to supporting the entire community with a slew of free, post-release content that will extend the Black Ops 4 experience with more new ways to play than we’ve ever done before.
“With Black Ops 3, we’re three years after release, and we continue to support it with new content and continuous updates – and we’re not even done yet. Our commitment to the game has maintained engagement… and Black Ops 4 has far more post-release updates planned for the entire community. In fact, it’s a game that was built for expansion. Launch day is just the beginning of a long journey.”
Treyarch’s statement has so far fallen on deaf ears, although many fans are directing their vitriol at Activision rather than Treyarch. As some are pointing out, splitting the userbase for multiplayer maps can create ghost maps, where it’s nigh-on impossible to find games because of the lack of players.
Activision’s strategy feels outdated in 2018, with most big shooters making maps available for free in a bid to keep their communities as engaged as possible. In the context of the explosion of the battle royale genre (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ additional maps are free), EA’s decision to ditch a season pass for Battlefield V and Bungie’s decision to make all future crucible maps free, Call of Duty fans feel justifiably aggrieved.
Will the company reverse course? We’ve got five months to find out.