Reviews - Updated on April 10, 2022

Black Ops 4 is the first Call of Duty in years where I want to spend my time earning prestige and unlocking weapon skins. But how Treyarch and Activision approach monetization raises more and more questions. At first it turned out that the game will not get rid of the season pass, although all competitors have already switched to free support after the release. Then users noticed 2,400 units of virtual currency among the bonuses for the Deluxe Edition – that is, there will still be microtransactions in the shooter. Subsequently, they were indeed introduced, and everything turned out to be worse than many could imagine.Cat is not enough - monetization in Black Ops 4

Camouflages completely change the appearance of weapons, but there are very few of them.

From one hell to another

Until recently, loot boxes, boxes with random rewards, were terribly popular in games. Why sell the items separately when you can give the player the chance to win the desired prize by inviting them to spend a much larger amount? Thanks to the greed of Electronic Arts and the outrage of Star Wars fans, loot boxes have become less attractive to publishers over time. Some companies turned their attention to Fortnite Battle Royale with its battle pass — its analogue appeared in Rocket League, Paladins, and Black Ops 4.

The essence of all these passes is very simple: by playing, you earn not only account levels, but also individual levels of this very pass. Usually it is divided into several dozen stages, each of which gives out all sorts of rewards – in Fortnite these are dances, costumes, hang gliders, pickaxes and other cosmetic trinkets. The pass is active for two or three months, after which it is impossible to receive rewards from it and you need to buy a new one. In Fortnite, the beauty of this system is that among the rewards there is a virtual currency, and with its help it is possible to accumulate enough money to buy the next pass. Having spent on it once, in the future you will not have to pay at all.

In Black Ops 4, the pass was made absolutely free for all owners of the game, but what could go wrong? As it turned out, only a small part of the audience will be able to get even to the hundredth stage out of two hundred. At first, you had to complete about eight or even ten multiplayer matches to earn a single stage. About 50 days were given for everything about everything, and, looking at the timer in the main menu, I just wanted to give up and continue playing for the sake of the gameplay itself, without thinking about the rewards.

Subsequently, Treyarch has accelerated the process of recruiting stages, but the situation has not changed much. The speed increased noticeably only during the weekend of double experience, but after a couple of days everything returned to normal. Seeing the dissatisfaction of the community on Reddit, the developers decided to sweeten the pill and introduced a daily pass of stages – if you win in any of the modes, one stage will be “gifted” for free, and this can be used once a day. It’s a pity that this feature was added so late – there are about 20 days left until the end of the season, and this is clearly not enough for most players.

Cat is not enough - monetization in Black Ops 4

You look at the progress system and prices with something like this face.

In Fortnite, which was clearly inspired by the creators of this system, the player is much friendlier. Every week, new challenges appear in it, for the completion of which you can get five stages and an additional one for finding a hidden icon on the map. As a result, with the help of these tasks you earn 60 stages out of 100, and the rest can be obtained by leveling up the player and completing daily tasks – that is, spending time in matches. Therefore, even those who start playing a week before the end of the season will unlock more than half of the rewards. In Black Ops 4, he somehow hobbles only to the 10th stage.

Shmantsy dances

Is the grind worth it? Hardly. Copying the battle pass from Fortnite, Treyarch decided to take all types of rewards from there, so in the shooter about the near future you will have to choose dances and graffiti for your characters, mixed in the pass with useless avatars and emblems. Although no, the emblems are at least visible during the search for a match, but dances and graffiti do not fit here at all. I spent a lot of time in the game, but so far I have not seen a single person who would turn on an emote in a multiplayer match. There is simply no time to do it. In Eclipse (the local Battle Royale), players don’t dance even in the starting lobby, and hardcore fans of the mode ask to remove these emotions from there and allow them to switch between health kits with the same button, which will be much more useful.

Among all this garbage, there are only five more or less interesting prizes: four unique weapon camouflages and the Jason Hudson skin for Eclipse, which drops out at the 199th stage of the pass. It’s realistic to get to it if you launch Black Ops 4 almost every day, sitting in the game for four or five hours a day. You can forget about Red Dead Redemption 2, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey and other autumn releases – all your free time should be devoted to Call of Duty. On the one hand, it is logical that the publisher does not want to see an outflow of the audience, but on the other hand, Activision is clearly pushing people to buy ranks for money.

And pleasure is not cheap. For example, a player with the 46th stage will have to pay 15,500 CoD points to access the 200th stage. The most profitable option is to buy 13,000 points for 6,499 rubles and another 2,400 points for 1,349 rubles, having completed the remaining stages in the matches. Total – 7,848 rubles in the game for 3,999 rubles. Latecomers will need to pay even more money. There are no opportunities to earn these points – this is an exclusively paid currency. Terrible prices, but the Call of Duty audience, apparently, is not as easily angered as Star Wars fans.

Cat is not enough - monetization in Black Ops 4

Come on, hurry up!

Another wacky feature of the pass has to do with costumes and coloring. In the same Fortnite costume you buy (or receive) along with the character model. In Black Ops 4, each skin is only available for one hero. I’m lucky that I mainly pick Seraph in matches and the first two costumes in the pass were for her, but many others will have to play for a very long time to unlock things for the rest of the fighters. Although it is hardly worth paying attention to these costumes – if in some Overwatch they can completely change their appearance, then everything here is more like decorated clowns.

Need more gold

You might think that such mediocre costumes were put only in a free battle pass – it is unlikely that Activision would just give away quality items. But no, some paid skins look bad too. The section with them is called the “Blackjack Store”, and there, just like in Fortnite, there are different categories of things scattered across the “Topical Items” and “Items of the Day” sections. The 900-point bundles include the costume, decal, and warpaint, the regular costumes cost 600 points, but they look just as bad as the junk in the pass. Perhaps someday the artists will really try, and the price of almost 600 rubles will be justified.

But that’s not all, the developers offer even more opportunities to give them extra money. Next to the regular pass, “Special Orders” are sold, sets that include as many as 10 items. These are emblems, and graffiti, and gestures, and a costume with coloring. The problem here is the same as with other goods – there is no desire to spend money on it. If in Overwatch you want to collect the entire collection for your favorite characters, and in Fortnite, cool and detailed skins immediately catch your eye, then in Black Ops 4, none of this happens.

Maybe it’s the visual style. The most successful games in this regard, whose fans spend millions on “cosmetics” in total, are like cartoons with disproportionate faces, funny animations and sexy female characters. In Black Ops 4, the heroes are ordinary mercenaries with dull faces and, whatever you say, boring design. A girl with pink hair, a bald man, a black guy, a man with a mohawk – they have so few distinctive features that sometimes you forget which one of them has what abilities. And when the new suits turn out to be just recolored versions of the old ones, this does not in any way encourage the player to sit through his pants in the hope of reaching the final stage of the pass.

Cat is not enough - monetization in Black Ops 4

Both rare and legendary – almost all skins look dull and monotonous.

***

It is possible that this would not have to be paid attention if the monetization was adequate. But the stages are earned so slowly, and there are so few worthy items in the pass, that it becomes terribly disappointing – the game is mostly good, the best Call of Duty in recent years, but the greed of Activision (or Treyarch, suddenly we blame Bobby Kotik for everything ?) spoils everything. Either the system was added at the last moment, because of which Black Ops 4 literally forces a huge amount of money to be poured into it, or it should be so.

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