Call of Duty

Black Ops 4 devs “frustrated” with Activision pushing microtransactions and crunch at Treyarch

Published: 26/Jun/2019 16:17 Updated: 26/Jun/2019 17:57

by Calum Patterson

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Call of Duty developers, Treyarch, the studio behind the incredible successful Black Ops series, have reported being frustrated with Activision’s “never-ending quest for increased revenue”, particularly regarding microtransactions.

When initially released in October 2018, there were very few microtransactions to speak of in Black Ops 4.

However, in the months following, this quickly changed, with a Fortnite-style battle pass added, and later even ‘Reserves’ (better known as supply drops).

In their Days of Summer update in June, perhaps the most egregious example of microtransaction greed was on show, as new weapons were added to the game – available only through the luck-based supply drop system.

Couple this with plain red dot reticles being sold for $1, and it’s easy to see why players have become angry with the constant push of microtransactions, but in a new report from Kotaku – the developers are too.

“Many (developers) said they were just as frustrated with publisher Activision’s never-ending quest for increased revenue, and they were frustrated with the lack of influence they had on it,” the report reads, with one developer stating “It makes you wonder, where does all the money go?”

TreyarchBlackout replaced the campaign mode that had been in development for almost two years, after Treyarch management cancelled it.

Extreme crunch for Black Ops 4, and 2020 CoD

Black Ops 4’s unusal October release date was apparently brought forward from the usual November launch, due to competition with Red Dead Redemption 2 (released October 26 – two weeks after BO4).

Kotaku’s report highlights that this earlier release date, and the cancellation of the planned campaign mode, lead to excessive ‘crunch’ at the studio, with contractors working long hours and extra days.

There is also a focus on the contracted QA testers, who claim to feel treated as second-class to the core development team, even told not to speak to devs in other departments. 

Lead developers and staff at Treyarch received a bonus for Black Ops 4 earlier in 2019, which one contractor said saw the car park fill up with new Teslas and Jaguars, while other developers, especially the testers, didn’t see any of that bonus.

TreyarchBlack Ops 4’s release date was brought forward, to avoid launching after Red Dead Redemption 2.

An earlier Kotaku report also revealed that due to a ‘mess’ with Sledgehammer and Raven Studio’s planned 2020 CoD release, Treyarch had been drafted in on late notice to take over the project.

Now with less than two years to develop the game, as opposed to the standard three year cycle, the developers are expecting even more gruelling crunch. Some QA testers only found out about the change from Kotaku’s article, too.

Additionally, a number of developers told Kotaku that they have expressed concerns about the Call of Duty series becoming “stale”, and suggested taking the example of Assassin’s Creed, which took a year off to ‘revitalize’ the franchise.

Call of Duty

Nadeshot clarifies SBMM argument in Black Ops Cold War rant

Published: 3/Dec/2020 2:10 Updated: 3/Dec/2020 2:15

by Jacob Hale

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Update (December 2 – 6:00 PM PT): Nadeshot has since followed up on his Skill-Based Matchmaking rant, addressing how it’s easy to lose your temper while grinding for specific weapon camo challenges.

“SBMM is a topic of discussion that has a lot of nuances,” he said in a December 2 follow-up tweet. “What I really want to clarify once and for all… I don’t have a fear of playing players as good as me. I don’t disagree with the idea of playing against players as good as me. All I’m asking for is that people see the level of skill I’m playing at.”

Obviously, a ranked playlist of sorts has been requested to no end in the community. While the feature has been subtly confirmed, it’s still yet to enter the game. Therefore, the only form of matchmaking is standard public games, which happen to have SBMM cranked all the way up.

“If I’m going up against six starting players in the Call of Duty League, I want a rank to reflect that. I understand why SBMM is a necessity, I just don’t agree with the way it’s presented. Right now it’s ambiguous, you never really know who you’re up against and the level of skill they’re at.”

The original story is as follows.

Skill-based matchmaking has been a major complaint from top Call of Duty players for years now, and 100 Thieves CEO and former pro player Matthew ‘Nadeshot’ Haag has finally snapped, going on a rant against SBMM in the new Black Ops Cold War.

Nadeshot has never made it a secret that he, alongside a huge number of Call of Duty players, is anti-SBMM.

Though the sentiment makes sense — pit players of equal skill against one another — in practice, many players aren’t happy with it and want to see it removed or at least tuned down.

Nadeshot clearly falls into that category, and let his opinion be known during a December 1 stream while playing on the latest edition of Nuketown, Nuketown ‘84.

black ops cold war cartel
Activision
Black Ops Cold War has been welcomed with mixed reviews, but SBMM has been a major sticking point.

As you can tell immediately from the scoreline alone and the carnage unfolding around him, the match is an intense one, and he wasn’t impressed.

He said: “It’s time to lower the skill-based matchmaking. This is not fun. I know we want the kids that have never played Call of Duty to be in a safe space, but please stop alienating the people that have been playing your game for over a decade.”

That wasn’t all, though, as Haag continued to complain as he struggled to make much of an impact on the game. “This is not an enjoyable experience,” he said. “Especially trying to get the challenges done on these weapons… Everyone’s got a scorestreak because it’s participation and not skill.”

Both the SBMM and scorestreak complaints have been popular ones for Black Ops Cold War players, and the sentiment seems to be echoed from the top down.

Whether Activision or Treyarch make changes to either issue remains to be seen, but we might not see Nadeshot streaming Black Ops Cold War for too much longer at this rate.