Battle Royale games are immensely popular right now. As such, it’s not entirely surprising that Treyarch decided to replace a traditional single player campaign in Black Ops 4 with a Battle Royale mode, called Blackout.
However, having to pay a AAA price to play a Battle Royale game, when there are popular cheaper, or even free to play, alternatives, does put Black Ops 4 at a disadvantage. Thus, Activision is experimenting with separating its content into smaller bundles, to entice players who only want to play multiplayer modes.
A separate version of Black Ops 4, called the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Battle Edition, is being sold alongside the regular version. This edition contains the standard multiplayer mode, as well as Blackout. However, it does not have the Zombies mode. By virtue of having two-thirds the content of the regular edition, the price for the Battle Edition is two-thirds the full price. It is only sold digitally for PC via Battle.net.
Overall, it’s a clever way of letting players only buy the modes they want to play. For several years, Call of Duty has been often criticised for its lacklustre single player campaigns, despite huge production values and Hollywood actors. For players who only buy Call of Duty instalments for the multiplayer portion, offering a discounted edition with only the modes they will use is a good marketing strategy.
According to Rob Schonfeld, Activision’s senior VP of global digital and mobile commerce, “The Black Ops 4 Battle Edition is a great way to bring even more new players into the game and allow them to jump into the incredibly fun Multiplayer and Blackout modes which fans have loved so much since day one.”
That said, whilst the Battle Edition isn’t as expensive as the full version of Black Ops 4, it is retailing for $AU60. This is substantially more expensive than other prominent Battle Royale games, chiefly Epic’s free-to-play Fortnite. As such, even with this discounted bundle, there is still a significant price barrier to Black Ops 4 becoming the next PUBG or Fortnite. Furthermore, this bundle is only available on PC so far, with no word of a console release as of yet.
However, this sets a good precedent for players being able to choose what modes they want to pay for. It is a fairly consumer-friendly move, especially coming from a major publisher like Activision. Hopefully, other multiplayer-focused franchises take note and start letting players pay for the modes they are actually interested in.