A plague of microtransactions has already descended on PS4 players of Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4, who get everything seven days before everyone else because they’re better than us. While PC folk won’t have the option to throw more money at Blops until next week, we do now know what Activision are charging. It’s a lot, but outside of Zombies mode money can only be spent on cosmetics. It’s more like the sniffles than the plague, really, unless you consider coating your gun in rainbow unicorn patterns to be absolutely vital.
The specifics can be found in a a post from Treyarch on Reddit.
The new currency is called COD Points, and you can spend them on pumping up your Black Market tier, unlocking Special Orders from the Black Market, or on Nebulium Plasma in Zombies mode. That plasma is the only thing you can spend money on with an impact on the actual game – it’s used to craft one-off elixirs that do stuff like teleport you or reset your equipment cooldowns.
Every cosmetic can theoretically be earned through playing rather than paying, but practically… you can’t. Although progression through Black Market tiers has been sped up since launch, it still looks like you’d have to pump 200 hours into the game to reach the end. An hour per tier isn’t a million miles from being reasonable, except you’d need to put those hours in before sometime between December 10-11, when “Operation First Strike” ends and a new season of guff begins.
That makes the highest tier hard to access for anyone without deep pockets. How deep? Eurogamer’s Wesley Yin-Poole has done the maths:
“So, how much would it cost to progress through all of the tiers in one go? I had reached tier seven just through playing so, to unlock tiers eight to 200, I’d need to buy 193 tiers for 19,300 COD Points. The cheapest way to do that would be to buy a pack of 13,000 COD Points for £84.99, 5000 for £34.99, 1100 for £8.49 and then 200 for £1.79, which totals an eye-watering £130.26.”
Special Orders unlock challenges tied to your Black Market tier, though it’s not clear if those are in the vein of COD: WW2 where you’re tasked with winning certain modes or performing certain actions, or whether they’re just something you activate then get on with playing normally.
I’d assumed the former, but this bit from Treyarch’s Reddit post is odd: “With Special Orders, players can stack each tier with multiple items to unlock at once, allowing everyone to maximize item unlocks with two items per Tier at all times and up to three items per Tier when Special Events are live (like the Halloween event live right now!).”
I’d be more put out if the transactions hadn’t been mainly limited to cosmetics, but it’s still worth pointing out that this comes on top of both an upfront cost and a DLC season pass. That slow rate of progression has been calculated with this in mind, too. Deliberately creating frustration so you can profit from it is a textbook case of business driving bad game design.
I am weary of pointing at other companies and going “look, what they’re doing is far worse” as if that justifies anything. That said, Battlefield’s habit of letting you buy every game’s weapons and gadgets for cold harsh cash IS far worse. It already sucks to be killed by people with superior kit – at least before money’s involved you can tentatively say your murderer has earned their fancy tools. Using real world riches doesn’t count.
I’m most upset by the way they’ve named the currency “COD Points”, when it should obviously be “Chips”.