So for anyone that hasn’t seen, Treyarch have officially announced Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 will not have a single player. An ambitious move. They also announced that the game will feature a Battle Royale mode called Blackout (Of course it is).
Black Ops 4 will be the 15th instalment of the first person shooter franchise, Call Of Duty. (Some of you may be thinking ‘fifteen?!’ Trust me, I’m right there with you). A symptom of this longevity is declining sales. Whilst CoD: Modern Warfare 3 (2011) is the series highest selling game with 30.71 million shipped as of January 2018, the last two games, WWII and Infinite Warfare currently stand at around 12 million. Clearly, Treyarch want to try something radical to revitalise the series, but this bold move does pose a risk of losing some single player fans, myself included. I find it hard to pay full price for a game (usually around the £50 mark) that will only include multiplayer aspects. With all that being said, I actually think that the move will pay off. Why? Battle Royale is a phenomenon.
2017 was the year of Battle Royale. Early games such as The Culling and H1Z1 generated interest in the genre, but it really started to gain momentum with the arrival of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) early access release in March 2017. It’s now sold somewhere in the region of 40 million copies, more than any individual Call of Duty game. Then came Fortnite, perhaps the most talked about game of the year, with around 45 million people currently playing the game across all platforms, a truly staggering figure. Love or hate the game, no one can deny that Epic Games have created a masterpiece of multiplayer gaming.
Battle Royale games could not have created the impact they have without Twitch and as such the platform is now intrinsically tied to the genre. Twitch has around 15 million active viewers and over 2.2 million ‘creators’ who share their content. When I stated that the Battle Royale genre and Twitch are intrinsically tied, there are very real examples of this outside of streaming. Twitch partnered with Epic Games to make an in game skin for players Fortnite avatars and once you signed up with Twitch, you were able to redeem this exclusive skin. Of course, not everyone will re-subscribe after the 30 day limit, but it’s undeniable that this tactic generated a significant amount of interest in the game.
The other behemoth of the genre is PUBG, and they too have close ties with the streaming service. The game’s developers, Bluehole, gave early access to some of Twitch’s biggest and best creators and after just 3 days of the game’s launch it was the third most watched game on Twitch. If, and it’s a big if, Treyarch are able to utilise Twitch in the same way Epic Games and Bluehole have, then Black Ops 4 could become a roaring success with an even larger dedicated online fan base than Call of Duty games usually draw.
There will certainly be challenges for Black Ops 4, including the inconvenient fact that Red Dead Redemption 2is set to release 14 days earlier, and rumours are circulating that it may also include an online Battle Royale mode (nothing has been confirmed). If this new game is able to emulate the success of its new genre-mates then perhaps the lack of single player won’t matter. Maybe the Battle Royale mode will be enough to recapture the success of previous games in the franchise. It will be interesting to see how this radical departure pans out for Black Ops 4.
Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 is set to release October 12th 2018 for Xbox One, Playstation 4 and Microsoft Windows.