While many big multiplayer games are stepping away from paid DLC in favour of other ways to fund new content updates, Activision are doubling down on playerbase-splitting map packs. The publishers have revealed that Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4's dozen post-launch maps will only be sold in the £30 season pass, not sold in separate packs too as in previous years (and certainly not free). It's an all-or-nothing commitment. Which sucks. Given that this year's game is more multiplayer-focused than ever, with no typical singleplayer campaign, that doublesucks.
The 'Black Ops Pass' will offer access to, as they're released, 12 multiplayer maps, 4 "exclusive" characters for the battle royale mode Blackout, and five extra Zombies "experiences". If you want any of that, you'll need the whole pass. It's included with Cod Blops 4's 'Digital Deluxe Edition', which costs £30/$40 more than the standard. Activision will sell upgrades from the base edition to the Digital Deluxe, but not sell any of the content separately.
Committing to a full pass in advance is an iffy proposition. What if the DLC turns out to not be great? What if you're only interested in some parts? What if you stop playing Cod Blops 4? And what if other people stop playing? Activision have previously also sold Call Of Duty DLC in four packs across the year, which has been more expensive than buying the whole pass but is less of a commitment. Now they're removing that choice.
Activision say they plan to "[deliver] content with more frequency", so it could be less clear-cut than the traditional 'three maps in one lump'. Still, it might work out about the same if they sold access to e.g. three months' new stuff. Or if they made new maps free and found other ways to monetise the game.
It sucks for maps to split playerbases and leave players feeling rinsed. Other big publishers are finally turning away from paid DLC map packs, with multiplayer games from Rainbow Six Siege to Playerunknown's Battlegrounds adding new maps and such in free content updates. Some monetise them with microtransactions to skip certain unlocks, or with cosmetic items (sadly, often in horrible loot boxes), or other methods which irk me less than facing a choice between buying DLC or getting cut out. Maybe next year, eh Activision?
Developers Treyarch have responded on Reddit to the ensuing upset, saying "I want to make it clear that we are very much listening to your thoughts, comments, and ideas."
They added, "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."
Cod Blops 4 is due to launch on October 12th. It'll cost £50 (or £80 if you want that DLC...), and is only sold on Battle.net - no Steam release.