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1 year later: How long is the life of the online game Warzone?

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If you want to stay relevant in the Battle Royale market, Warzone needs a lot of change. Photo by Eric Weidman.

It’s been over a year since video game publisher Activision released its first free download game on its iconic franchise, Call of Duty: Warzone. From a marketing point of view, there would have been no better timing for the release. The 2017 blockbuster Battle Royale “Fortnite” has been on the market for nearly three years. This proved to be enough time to go down from the peak after reaching the peak. But most importantly, Warzone provided a fresh, free and convenient option for gamers to connect online in March 2020, as well as an accessible way for non-gamers to join the scene. That is.

For all these reasons, it’s not surprising that Warzone’s introduction to the video game market, like Fortnite, was amazing. Within two months of its release, it recorded a whopping 60 million downloads and, in less than a year, showed signs of being more popular than Fortnite.

Early “war zones” and rapid growth can be due far beyond the perfect timing of the release. For one thing, “Warzone” has the advantage of brand awareness as part of its flagship “Call of Duty” video game series. In addition to this, Warzones’ realistic graphics and innovative gameplay aspects set it apart from the rest in the highly saturated, free battle royale market.

But fans of “Warzone”, and general battle royale games, know that the hype of early games is exactly that: hype. When released, fans will be thrilled with the novelty of the game, new maps, new weapons, and hidden Easter eggs.

However, over time the popularity of the game tends to stagnate. Virtually all major battle royale games experience this. Perhaps there are so many consumers on the Battle Royale market, and perhaps a single gameplay mode model is good for repeatability.

Statistics also support this. After the feat of the first 60 million downloads of “Warzone”, it received only another 20 million downloads the following month.

Game developers are well aware of this trend and have implemented ways to incentivize players to come back. The main strategy used by battle royale game developers is called season updates. Through these, game developers can introduce new parts, new weapons, and sometimes entirely new maps and game modes to their maps. When “Fortnites” became less popular, their developer, Epic Games, began a major collaboration with Marvel Studios to excite potential players.

“War Zone” implemented something similar during Halloween. The very popular The Haunting of Verdansk allowed players to fight at night and play as zombies while ghosts and other eerie sights haunt the map. But unfortunately for “warzone” fans, most of the game season updates and mid-season updates are very disappointing and often cause more problems than anything else.

In December 2020, “Warzone” carried out perhaps the biggest update in history, “Warzone”: Season 1. When the Call of Duty franchise released a new video game titled Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Activision implemented a major crossover between the two games. A new Black Ops game weapon has been introduced in “War Zone” and a whole new Battle Royale minimap / game mode “Reverse Island” has been developed.

Some aspects of this major update were loved by fans, but most of the time there were issues. Many “Warzone” fans see this update as a cash win from the “Call of Duty” franchise, encouraging players to buy the latest titles, while compromising the gameplay integrity of existing “Warzone” games. did.

Updates also seemed to be in a hurry as Warzone was filled with game-breaking glitches and the addition of new weapons caused a major gameplay imbalance. Even before this update, Activision and the “Warzone” community were at odds with each other, as widespread problems with hackers ruining the game lobby continued to prevail.

Perhaps the biggest existing problem with the game was frequent updates, easily over 40GB. When “Warzone” fans realized that a major update in Season 1 was causing the issue rather than fixing it, players were able to weaken the extra data rather than improve it. I was angry.

Today, the “war zone” is at a critical time. It’s been about four and a half months since the Season 1 release was updated, and as a result, gameplay imbalances continue to prevail. With monotonous gameplay, major in-game bugs, and storage-intensive updates, the dissatisfaction of the “Warzone” community cannot be understated. Fans’ cry for an all-new map may finally be answered soon, but fans are nervous about doing the same on the next map as the last season’s update caused a big problem.

But where do all of this leave Activision? Do these issues generally speak to the flawed nature of battle royale game modes? Many battle royale games saw a sharp rise before they reached the flat line. Does “War Zone” follow the same fate?

Activision certainly wants that to be the case, and has made clear efforts to improve the “Warzones” gaming experience. This shows that the company has a desire to keep the game profitable.

Since February, Activision partner Raven Software has released an update banning a total of 90,000 scammers. Just last week, Warzone made an update that reduced the overall file size by about 12 gigabytes, promising to lead to smaller updates in the future. But is it enough to maintain the “war zone” relevance?

One thing to learn from “Fortnite” is that the decline in popular discourse does not necessarily imply economic ruin. “Fortnite” may have lost its place in popular culture, but it maintains a stable community base. Activision should expect the fate of “Warzones” to be similar. But if you know anything about video games in general, even the most beloved brands and titles aren’t immune to significant decline if caught too long. Over time, you’ll see what happens to the turbulent “war zone.”

Eric Weidman

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