Over the past decade, Call of Duty has become a punchline among the most hardcore gamers. As the poster boy for annualized video game releases, Activision’s cash-printing mega-franchise gets a lot of flak for being a re-skin of the same game year-in and year-out. These accusations stem from the fatigue surrounding the Call of Duty franchise from both its fractured fan base and vocal detractors. After years of staving off the hate with enormous sales, Call of Duty may have run out of luck with the upcoming Infinite Warfare.
The universal hatred for Infinite Warfare has been well-documented since the game’s reveal in June, the most notable cases being that its debut trailer is currently the most disliked video game trailer on YouTube and the fact that Activision refuses to disclose pre-order numbers. To add more fuel to this raging dumpster fire, Activision has confirmed that you can only play the included Modern Warfare Remastered if you have the Infinite Warfare disc in your console and are connected to the Internet. Pretty weird for a game that Activision originally confirmed would be a standalone game included in the Infinite Warfare Legacy and Legacy Pro editions.
Activision’s institution of this form of digital rights management (DRM) on Modern Warfare Remastered all but confirms what many already predicted — Infinite Warfare is on track to be the worst-selling Call of Duty in franchise history. There is no way Activision would use such a desperate tactic in order to halt the reselling of a Call of Duty if something wasn’t wrong.
Since many were planning on buying Infinite Warfare just for the remaster of the first Modern Warfare, Activision has succeeded in stopping those people from returning their newest game. But at what cost?
Back at the tail-end of the last generation, multiple publishers like Sony, EA, THQ, and Ubisoft instituted the practice of using online passes to restrict certain game modes, namely online multiplayer, to those who purchased their games used. While this practice lasted a couple years, it did more to damage customers’ faith in the included companies than cut down the used game market. Long story short, online passes and other forms of DRM are good at pissing off your consumer base and nothing else.
For a company that loves making that dolla dolla bill (if you facepalm, I don’t blame you), Activision’s decision to institute a DRM on Modern Warfare Remastered instead of selling the game as a separate disc or download is baffling. Yes, I understand that putting out a remaster separate product of Infinite Warfare will definitely cut into sales, but Activision is leaving too much money on the table. Forcing gamers to pay $80 for a game they don’t want in order to get the $20 one they do sounds like a recipe for disaster.
Call of Duty fans can hold out hope that Infinite Warfare will prove everybody wrong yet again. Sadly, the damage has already been done as Call of Duty may have finally run out of respawns.