After being in rigorous beta testing across multiple countries since July, Activision and Tencent’s Call of Duty: Mobile is go for iOS and Android devices everywhere but mainland China, Vietnam, and Belgium. Battle across recognizable maps, fight as iconic heroes like Ghost and Soap, and participate in a battle royale the likes of which you’ve probably seen before.
It’s free to play; it’s mobile; it’s what a console Call of Duty might look like if people weren’t so down on microtransactions and loot boxes. They really should have subtitled it “Mobile Warfare.” Beneath the icon in the iTunes search results it says “Visceral Multiplayer!” which sounds like a thing Call of Duty players are keen on.
The game runs in landscape mode instead of portrait (wide instead of tall), which was a great decision, Mario Kart Tour. The gameplay isn’t too shabby. It looks nice on my iPhone XR. It’s all aiming and auto-firing, but it works well on a small touchscreen
The focus is on progression, with new gear unlocked as players climb the ranks and access new loadout slots. Weapons have experience levels as well, with better mods and attachments unlocked at higher levels. There’s a store filled with cosmetic stuff to purchase and play with, daily login bonuses, special events—basically plenty of things to clutter up its nice-looking home screen.
Players can purchase in-game currency with real cash to help them make their soldier and weapons look all pretty. There’s a “Cash Back” event going on right now that involves getting bonuses for purchasing currency and makes me feel like I am trying to finance a car every time I load up the game. This is Activision and Tencent, so expect plenty of ridiculous things to buy and ways to buy them.
As for the Battle Royale, it supports up to 100 players, pulls together map locations from across many different Call of Duty games, and isn’t unlocked until level 7, which might take me a while. You’ll probably get there first. Let me know how it is.
Activision has updated the official Call of Duty website to add a new developer logo to the bottom of the page: High Moon Studios.
High Moon Studios has been an Activision owned studio for years working on many different projects for the company over the years. The studio worked on Call of Duty multiple times in the past with developing the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare in 2014. They also were tasked on assisting with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered in 2016.
High Moon was then changed to be a major support studio for Destiny, working closely with Bungie team to develop big expansions for Destiny series and working on Destiny 2 with Bungie. When Bungie and Activision split earlier this year, High Moon was then left without a certain project.
Now, the studio appears to be officially a support studio for Call of Duty going forward.
Activision already confirmed that High Moon is assisting Infinity Ward with the development of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, but having their logo on the COD site means that they’re now exclusively working on the Call of Duty franchise.
In another case, Beenox, who develops the PC versions of Call of Duty recently does not have their logos on the Call of Duty site as they continue to work on other projects like Crash Bandicoot.
High Moon Studios previously developed Darkwatch, The Bourne Conspiracy, Transformers: War of Cybertron, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, and Deadpool games for Activision.
High Moon joins Raven Software, Treyarch, Infinity Ward, and Sledgehammer Games teams to be actively working on Call of Duty for Activision.
The practice of platform holders securing console exclusives took a new and weird turn yesterday, when Sony and Activision announced that Modern Warfare’s Survival Mode—a mode within a mode, as it’s part of Spec Ops—is appearing exclusively on the PS4 until October 1, 2020.
Spec Ops, first introduced in the original Modern Warfare 2, is a series of short scripted missions that can either be played solo or co-op. They’ve been missing from the last few Call of Duty games, so their return here has been seen as a welcome move by longtime series fans.
That excitement from PC and Xbox users will be a little tempered by yesterday’s announcement, though. While the core Spec Ops experience will appear on all platforms, Survival Mode—basically a Horde mode for Call of Duty, available as an option within Spec Ops—won’t be turning up outside the PS4 until October 2020, which conveniently is right around the time the next Call of Duty game will be due.
This isn’t the first time Sony has secured an exclusivity deal for Call of Duty content, but those have previously been for a matter of days. To lock something down for almost an entire year (the game is due out on October 25) is a little more drastic.
You can see the exclusive announced twice in the video below, once at the beginning in small print, and again near the end.
Activision kicked off Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s multiplayer beta yesterday, letting PlayStation 4 players get hands-on with a softly rebooted Modern Warfare focused more on realism.
Following up on last month’s alpha for Modern Warfare’s upcoming 2v2 Gunfight mode, the beta offers a taste of the standard multiplayer with 6v6 and 10v10 matches in game modes that Call of Duty players are familiar with. Team Deathmatch and Domination serve as the staple modes, while Headquarters returns to serve as the King of the Hill-style mode that requires teams to fight and capture certain “headquarters” locations on the map.
Today, day two of the beta, added a new tactical objective mode. In “Cyber Attack,” players must fight for possession of an EMP device with the objective of planting the device at the opposition’s data center. Similar to Search and Destroy, players only have one life per round, and there is a diffuser that can be defused before a timer runs out.
This can feel a little more hectic than a standard match of Search and Destroy, because wounded players can enter a knocked-out state and have a chance to be revived. The device needs to be detonated, or all players eliminated, to win the round. The first to win five rounds takes the match.
At first, seeing the maps, modes, and guns offered in the beta gives me those old-school Modern Warfare vibes. But Infinity Ward’s desire to push for more realism causes those feelings to end as soon as the match starts.
I’ve previously voiced my concerns over the lack of a mini-map in Modern Warfare’s core multiplayer. After getting hands-on with the beta, I strongly believe the pace of the game suffers without one. Much of the gunfights and rushing that players enjoy and expect from Call of Duty’s standard multiplayer is slowed down to overly cautious camping.
The beta maps also cater to camping, with myriad buildings and doors that now open and close. The “Grazna Raid” map is a clustered city perfect for getting shot in the back because there was someone lurking behind a door or in a dark corner. Being able to open and close doors is an option that will take some adjustment. On several occasions, I pushed through a building and got shot in the back because I thought the interior door I just passed was the usual fake decor. In reality, a camper was roasting marshmallows in the other room, heard my footsteps, and opened the interior door just in time to ruin my killstreak.
Flying solo with a team of noobs means that you’re not likely to get many killstreaks, and UAV streaks now matter more than ever since the temporary mini-map that they grant feels so crucial. Reintroducing the mini-map for standard multiplayer would motivate players to move around more, thus improving the pace of the matches and the overall feel of how these maps play.
Keeping with the theme of “realism,” Modern Warfare’s “Operators” are customizable soldiers who don’t have any wacky superpowers or weapons like the Specialist characters of most recent Call of Duty games. The characters themselves are simply cosmetic tweaks, so no robots with miniguns or dudes with overpowered tasers.
However, there are “Field Upgrades” that serve as a chargeable item or ability that can be equipped to any character. These upgrades are sensible additions to a modern Call of Duty, with options like ammo drops and a deployable ballistic cover that you mount for extra protection.
Modern Warfare’s Gunsmith offers a more visualized way to customize your gun, and the game is boasting a ton of attachment options. Day one of the beta had a level cap of 10, so there aren’t currently enough options unlocked yet. I’m not quite sure how daunting this will feel to new players. You can have five attachments on your gun at any given time, but there are pros and cons to each of them. Changing up one attachment could have a bigger impact on your weapon that it did in previous Call of Duty games.
One thing I appreciate about Modern Warfare is the ability to adjust my loadouts during the match. I always felt like Call of Duty was stuck in the dark ages of forcing players to edit their attachments between matches, while Battlefield games spoiled me with mid-match adjustments. I am always that irresponsible player that complains during matches that I forgot to change my loadout. To be fair, my friends also suck at reminding me.
The guns of Modern Warfare look and sound great. I had major complaints about the sound levels in the Gunfight alpha. I could barely hear footsteps, for example, and I wasn’t the only one. Infinity Ward used the feedback to make some adjustments. Personally, the footsteps sound great for me this time around and remain consistently audible. However, I did see a few complaints that players weren’t hearing sounds properly in the beta, so all the issues don’t seem to be worked out yet.
Also, there were issues partying up with friends on day one of the beta, but it seems to be a little more reliable on day two.
Overall, Call of Duty’s return to a modern setting shows promise for next month’s release, but some decisions made for the push towards realism are frustrating some of the core player base and affecting the flow of standard multiplayer. I really hope Infinity Ward won’t sacrifice replayability for realism, because the game gets boring when the pace suffers. Please add the mini-map back.
The early access beta is available now on PlayStation 4 for anyone who preordered a copy. An open beta, also restricted to PlayStation 4, will run from September 14 to 16. Cross-play testing will begin during the early access period for Xbox and PC from September 19 to 20, and the beta will be open to everyone on the final run from September 21 to 23. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will be released on October 25.
During Activision Blizzard investor call today, the company revealed that they are continuing to make staggering amounts of money from microtransactions from their entire library of games.
They stated that they earned $800 million in the last three months from in-game items across their franchises.
Activision also stated that their new “initiatives” that they are implementing in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has lead to stronger engagement from the community, and that they have seen a higher microtransaction revenues from Black Ops 4 than Call of Duty: WWII.
But one particular quote from the call continues to highlight the difference between the executive’s view and the community’s.
Activision said that the communities are “embracing the new in-game content” for Call of Duty and that they are “excited” by what’s coming to the game. Throughout the call, the executives touted how the in-game model is increasing their revenue to their surprise and that they’re looking forward to brining out “more content more often” to fans to keep them “engaged.”
The core Call of Duty community is not that excited or embracing the content that is being released for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. In fact, we’ve seen the most negativity around the different online communities with Black Ops 4 than we’ve ever seen before for Call of Duty. Go to Twitter, player’s are asking for a new model for the game to keep them engaged; go to Reddit, Activision Blizzard is considered the devil.
The core gaming communities that have interacted with the company for years have started to hate on them to new levels because of the lack of care for their feedback. Activision executives continue to show that the community feedback for their games, especially Call of Duty, is going on deaf ears.
Black Ops 4 has one of the worst MTX systems the franchise has ever seen, but according to Activision, it’s a model that is being ’embraced’ which is very worrisome as we look towards Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. The company continues to embrace the RNG system with game changing items locked by supply drops even as lawmakers around the world are looking to ban such models going forward.
It’s not clear how far Activision will take MTX systems in their games going forward, and the outlook for Modern Warfare’s system is not that good as the company is losing out on revenue from Season Pass this time around.
Here’s to hoping Activision changes their outlook and listens to what their core audience wants.
Activision Blizzard is reporting their Second Quarter Results today for the company after the markets close, and as part of the press release, the company has shared some updates on their franchises overall.
CEO Bobby Kotick states that their investment to restructure the company earlier this year, which resulted in 800 employees losing their jobs, has started to take effect and they’re increasing the focus on development resources for their big franchises going forward.
“Our second quarter results exceeded our prior outlook for both revenue and earnings per share,” said Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard. “In the first half of 2019 we have prioritized investments in our key franchises and, beginning in the second half of this year our audiences will have a chance to see and experience the initial results of these efforts.”
Activision Blizzard outperformed our second quarter outlook, reflecting strong creative and commercial execution as we continued to reposition the business for future growth. Across Call of Duty®, Candy Crush™, Warcraft®, Hearthstone®, Overwatch®, and Diablo®, we are expanding our development teams so that we can accelerate the delivery of content in our pipeline, pursue new business models, broaden our communities, and delight our players.
The company provided an update stating that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Monthly Active Users is higher than that of Call of Duty: WWII at this point in the year with play time double that of WWII.
Activision had 37 million MAUs. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 MAUs grew year-over-year versus Call of Duty: WWII, and hours played increased by more than 50%. Crash™ Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled enjoyed positive critical reviews and strong sales, particularly through digital channels.
In addition, Activision stated that microtransaction sales from in-game items is higher than that of WWII and will continue to exceed the total from WWII’s year.
For Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, net booking from in-game items grew year-over-year versus Call of Duty: WWII and are ahead of WWII on a comparable life-to-date basis.
Across all their franchises, for the second quarter of the year, Activision Blizzard made $800 million just from in-game net-booking sales.
Earlier this week, the Call of Duty Twitter account tried to build hype for today’s Modern Warfare multiplayer reveal by announcing the return of killstreaks, which grant players access to tide-turning super weapons if they play well enough. Among these super weapons is white phosphorus, a chemical substance that can be used as a self-igniting weapon, causing everything from nightmarish skin burns to organ failure. It’s forbidden to use in civilian areas by international law.
In the new Modern Warfare, it’s effectively a cool toy. This didn’t sit well with some members of the series’ community, who were expecting that the new game, described by developers as a darker, more intentionally uncomfortable take on the inherent ugliness of war, wouldn’t be so cavalier in its depiction of a weapon that’s been used to commit heinous atrocities in real life. But single-player Call of Duty and multiplayer Call of Duty have historically beendifferent animals, and this game appears to be no different on that score. During a multiplayer reveal event this week in Los Angeles, Infinity Ward audio director Stephen Miller and art director Joel Emslie told Kotaku that the game’s single-player campaign and its multitude of multiplayer modes—while linked by shared progression systems, weapons, systems, and fictional settings—are aiming for decidedly different tones.
“It’s kind of like if you’re watching a film or a play, and you have different types of actors,” said Miller. “You can have somebody who’s a very serious, heavy actor, and maybe you have somebody else who’s more comic relief or whatever else. It’s all still part of the same universe, but you get a little different tone.”
Emslie agreed, noting that there’s a third mode that exists along the same spectrum: cooperatively-focused “Spec Ops” missions.
“They all exist in the same universe,” said Emslie. “They all have commonalities. They may use certain things, but for different purposes… If you look at narrative, its purpose is to tell a really deep story and make you care about these characters, these people. The campaign gives relevance to the rest of the universe around it. So in multiplayer, you may see things that are derived from it, that have more meaning that way. Like ‘Oh, I know why that exists.’ Or you may see the Juggernaut Suit in narrative. It might show up as a character and do something. So they’re kind of coming from different centers with different purposes.”
Historically, Call of Duty’s single-player campaigns have played out like explosion-ridden popcorn flicks with the occasional, single-tear-stained nod in the direction of something more somber. For example, there’s the Modern Warfare 1 mission in which the player slowly dies in the irradiated aftermath of a nuclear explosion, and Modern Warfare 2’s infamous “No Russian” level, in which the player plays as an undercover agent who participates in a mass shooting terrorist attack on unarmed civilians. Due to the campaigns’ broader focus on over-the-top action and setpieces, it’s been relatively easy for campaigns and less contextualized multiplayer modes to coexist. This time around, however, Infinity Ward is positioning the campaign as a series of more realistic and harrowing storylines focusing on the difficult situations faced by soldiers as well as the civilians whose homelands have been torn apart by the ravages of war. Thus, the dissonance between the campaign’s tone and the multiplayer is more visible, with sparks flying from the friction.
In any case, when it comes to including controversial features like white phosphorus, the multiplayer team is largely sticking to its guns.
“I mean, you notice a nuclear bomb go off at the end [of the multiplayer trailer],” Emslie replied when asked about the online reaction to the white phosphorus killstreak announcement. “So I think it’s a mature game. It deals with mature mechanics. There’s a lot of stuff in there like that. At the end of the day, it’s a piece of entertainment… That’s a killstreak like any other killstreak. It’s a video game. It’s a first-person shooter in a war environment.”
While taking multiplayer for a test drive, however, it was hard for me not to feel a little weird about it at all. Certainly, matches were thrilling, with a focus on new “Gunsmith” weapon customization, bigger maps and higher player counts, and new modes like night vision skirmishes where you’ve got to make sure your laser sight doesn’t give away your position. During one game of team deathmatch on an outdoor desert environment rife with ruined residences, somebody on the enemy team dropped a white phosphorus attack on my team. My character began to cough and lose health. Panicked, I ran inside an abandoned house and tried to close the doors, but my character kept wheezing. Eventually, the effect dissipated, and everything went back to being business as usual.
In Modern Warfare’s multiplayer, I imagine white phosphorus will prove to be a very effective method of zone control, with the game’s maps emphasizing advantageous positioning over symmetry and other hallmarks of multiplayer level design. If you want to free up a key spot, you can build up a killstreak and drop some white phosphorus to force your enemies to hoof it to a safer spot. But in my experience, it functioned like a glorified poison cloud, not a devastating weapon that melts flesh from bone. In this moment, I took stock of where my character was; he had taken refuge in an abandoned civilian home in a town teetering on the brink of oblivion.
I thought back to another war shooter that featured white phosphorus as a player-controlled artillery option: 2012’s Spec Ops: The Line. In that narrative-driven game, one level saw players use white phosphorus on their foes, only to then traverse the aftermath and discover that they’d indiscriminately laid waste to innocent civilians as well. In one especially harrowing moment, you come across the horrifically burnt body of a mother clutching her similarly burnt child. Masks of horror are etched across what remains of their faces. The mother’s hand covers her child’s eyes.
Modern Warfare’s single-player campaign will force players to face the consequences of actions that lead to civilian deaths—for example, you’ll receive pushback from allies if you accidentally shoot somebody’s baby. But in multiplayer, bombed-out civilian houses and white phosphorus are still just tactical tools, means by which to gain an advantage.
When asked if the multiplayer team ever tried to incorporate more of single-player’s proposed self-awareness, Emslie said that approach was never really on the table.
“I think it was more of a move to add context to multiplayer,” he said. “In terms of trying to sell the narrative as far as multiplayer went, it was probably more of ‘Why are these two factions having a fight? Why is this happening? How did they get here?’”
Multiplayer is, however, intended to be more narratively cohesive than it has been in previous games. Emslie pointed to new first-person cut-scenes that depict players and allies flying into combat zones aboard helicopters and other military hardware. “You enter an environment narratively,” he said. “But we’re basically coming at it from that angle.”
Realism, too, is a bigger priority than ever for the multiplayer team, with members going on at length during a pre-demo presentation about how they’ve scanned countless real-world objects into the game and created replicas in the name of making everything look, feel, and sound as tactile as possible. But the ramifications of all this realism is campaign-only for now. “All the civilian stuff is kinda more over here in the narrative world,” said Emslie. “I don’t think it was ever a big goal for the multiplayer team [to incorporate the campaign’s ideas].”
That makes a degree of sense. Call of Duty multiplayer is a time-honored tradition at this point. Messing with the formula too much would inevitably send legions of players into a rage. Still, as this series attempts to take definitive steps into new narrative territory, it finds itself in an awkward spot. Despite the dissonance, Emslie hopes the Call of Duty multiplayer team can do the subject matter justice.
“I think we try to treat it as tastefully as possible, but at the end of the day, it’s supposed to be a fun experience and a piece of entertainment,” he said. “And artistic at the same time.”
A Twitter account claiming to have “inside” information on the on-goings at Treyarch stated this week that Mark Lamia, current Chairman of the Studio, was exclusively responsible for the microtransaction system in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 with Activision “just overseeing” the process.
Treyarch’s Community Coordinator has responded on Reddit to this claim stating it’s completely false, and that Mark Lamia has actually shifted away from day-to-day operations from Treyarch since Call of Duty: Black Ops 3.
He has been providing mentorship at Treyarch to the studio leadership team for the last few years. Treyarch says that decisions made in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 are a “team decision” between Treyarch, Activision, and partner studios.
Here’s the full response:
It’s been a long week with a lot of active conversation… typically we don’t respond to rumors, but this claim is based on false information and is targeting an individual.
Mark Lamia transitioned away from day-to-day operations several years ago after the release of Black Ops 3. Mark is currently our chairman and provides advice/mentorship to studio leadership. He’s always been a great leader, and the team has loved working with him. Given the personal nature of the claims, it needs to be made clear that he’s not directing any game development or content plans, and these claims are, again, simply false.
Many team members have been working on Black Ops 4 and are committed to delivering great gaming experiences every day across Treyarch, Activision, and partner studios. No single person is solely responsible for decisions around design of the game – it’s always a team effort. It’s not only hurtful and unfair to target individuals based on misunderstandings about their roles on the team, but it’s also a slight to all the team members who are working hard on this game.
Let’s get back to focusing our community dialogue around the game and away from discussions about individuals. Constructive feedback about the game is always fair – targeting individual members of the team is not.
This marks the second time in the same week that some “leakers” online were providing false information on Treyarch. Earlier this week, leaks claimed that Jason Blundell was fired from Treyarch for certain reasons, but Activision sent a statement to CharlieIntel denying that rumor and stated Blundell continues to direct the Zombies experiences for Black Ops 4.
Activision has denied the reports that Jason Blundell has been fired from Treyarch.
The company sent out a statement to CharlieIntel today denying reports that went up earlier that Jason Blundell has left Treyarch after being part of the studio for years.
Here’s the statement that Activision sent:
While we typically don’t comment on rumor, as a personnel matter we feel it’s important to address. Jason has not been fired, and in fact, he continues to direct the zombies experiences for Black Ops 4. In addition, Jason, along with a handful of developers, are working with Activision to develop new creative opportunities.
Activision says in the statement that Blundell is working at Activision with ‘a handful of developers‘ as well for ‘new creative opportunities‘ at the publishing company. The company did not elaborate his exact role at Treyarch right now.
Jason Blundell was promoted to Co-Studio Head of Treyarch in 2016 to serve on the leadership team of the studio alongside Mark Gordon and Dan Bunting. He still at the studio, but it’s not sure if he remains Co-Studio Head.
In terms of Zombies, the studio launched Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 with the most content ever in Zombies with four new maps included on Day 1 – something the team hasn’t done before. The game’s Zombies mode was met with negative response over constant crashes leading many die hard Zombies fans unable to complete Easter Eggs for weeks as Treyarch worked to fix the issues.
Treyarch has released three out of the four Zombies DLC maps for the title thus far with the first two continuing the new Chaos Story and now the last two wrapping up the Aether Story in Zombies. Black Ops 4’s Zombies is still missing the promised feature of Factions, which was announced for the game back in May 2018 at the game’s reveal event. There’s still no indication as too when this feature will arrive.
Craig Houston, writer of Zombies, has been showcasing himself as a prominent Zombies team member as part of the studio live streams the past few months. Blundell has been absent in the public eye.
UPDATE: Activision has stated that this report is fake and that Jason Blundell is still actively working at Treyarch and Activision.
According to a new report and rumors floating around the internet, Jason Blundell is no longer at Treyarch.
This info was reported by GamingINTELcom and @TheGamingRevoYT today. Both also claim that 9 other Treyarch senior members were let go by the studio as part of a restructuring of the studio. We have heard rumors of Blundell not being at Treyarch, but have not been able to get confirmation to report on this.
Jason Blundell has been absent in many of the promotions for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s Zombies DLC Season. He last appeared as part of Treyarch Stream back in March. Since then, Craig Houston, Lead Writer of Zombies, has been solo on all streams talking about the Zombies mode for the game.
Further, in a new QA interview with Zombies on the Activision Blog, the company only lists “Craig Houston and the Zombies Team,” with no mentions of Jason Blundell anymore.
Jason Blundell has been with the Treyarch studio for years as one of the main leads of the studios initiatives in the Zombies mode. Leading into Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 in 2015, Blundell was tasked with being a Campaign Director and Zombies Director and worked as the lead of both of the modes for that the 2015 Black Ops 3 title.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 was one of the best selling games on current generation consoles, but the game’s campaign was heavily criticized for lack of narrative story telling that previous Call of Duty: Black Ops games had.
Moving past 2015, as the team entered development for 2018’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Treyarch promoted Jason Blundell to Co-Studio Head to serve alongside Mark Gordon and Dan Bunting to lead the studio. Mark Lamia was the Studio Head but was then promoted to Chairman of the Studio.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 launched as the most ambitious Call of Duty title in terms of Zombies content with four new maps available on Day 1. The game, however, had a messy launch for Zombies mode with many blue screens and constant crashing on PlayStation 4 for at least a month before the studio was able to fix a lot of the issues. The MP and Blackout modes were not as effected by the crashes compared to the Zombies mode.
Activision has not issued a statement regarding this and did not respond to a request for comments.