Opinion: Supply Drops are back in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, and they’re awful
The infamous Supply Drops have returned to Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 after not being present in the game since its launch in October.
Treyarch introduced the new Reserve Crates system with Operation Grand Heist in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 this week, adding another way for players to unlock new types of content in the game. The Crates are only available via a purchase with Call of Duty Points and include 3 Case Items.
Each Case features only one item, and those items include a variety of new cosmetic content, alongside MK2 weapons, and items from older Operations. Purchasing a crate basically gets you 3 cases — which is similar to older Call of Duty titles giving you 3 items per supply drop.
The implementation in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is just as awful as Treyarch’s last implementation with Black Ops 3, and it seems Activision has not learned from their own mistakes and community feedback when it comes to Supply Drop systems.
The biggest issue with all of this is that Call of Duty is a $60 boxed game, with a $50 season pass, alongside a tier based operation system with the ability to purchase individual tiers, with an item shop, and now Supply Drops. Black Ops 4 literally has every type of microtransaction methods out there — that many free to play games have — in a $60 boxed game.
And worse, the Supply Drop system in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is even worse than what Free-to-Play games have with their supply drop system.
Let’s compare Black Ops 4’s new Reserve Crates with Apex Legends’ Apex Packs:
Black Ops 4’s Reserve Crates grants you three items — out a variety of cosmetic content, including new items that are locked behind the crates like Blackout characters, MK2 weapons, and more. All 3 items are not duplicate protected, so you can get duplicates throughout the whole process. Every third duplicate, however, you are able to re-roll, but the first two duplicates you get are stuck and there’s nothing you can do about it. Apex Legends, a free to play game, has Apex Packs. The difference? Apex Packs are duplicate protected, so you can never get a duplicate item in Apex Legends; Apex Packs also have a bad luck protection built in, meaning every 30 packs you are guaranteed to get 1 Legendary Item — something Call of Duty does not have.
And the Reserve Crates are the same price as before – $2 per crate, so $2 for 3 items. And, even worse, Activision has removed the ability to earn these cases in the regular tier system. Once you hit level 100 in the Operation Grand Heist tier, that’s it — there’s no more cases to earn from the tiers. Instead, you now have to earn them separately, and based upon current testing, many people are reporting it takes about 2.5 hours of gameplay to just earn 1 case — which gives you 1 item.
Why remove the cases from the tier system after hitting 100 and put it in the separate system with earn rates so much worse? The only answer is Activision wants people to buy crates, rather than continuing to earn it.
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There’s already a certain level of uncertainty of whether or not, at a certain point this year, Activision will start to add new weapons into the cases. Back in Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, in December 2015, when Supply Drops became purchasable in that game, Activision claimed all items will be cosmetic only. Two months later, new weapons were added to the Supply Drops and all weapons going forward were locked behind the RNG system.
It’s true that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has a variety of ways to earn some content that Call of Duty games before have not had. But the way things are moving right now — more and more items seem to be going behind the Reserve Crates and will force users who want it to purchase those to get these items.
Loot boxes are a hot topic in the video game industry, as FTC in the US has opened an investigation into the loot boxes, and countries in Europe like Belgium has deemed loot boxes gambling and have asked developers to disable them in games like Overwatch, FIFA, and more. EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II kicked off the disastrous response to Loot Boxes and sparked government investigations after it was revealed that system was fully on RNG and gambling. EA was forced to remove and rework the entire loot box system in that game.
But the biggest point goes back to what I mentioned earlier: how many ways can Activision monetize their games? These games are already $60, and how much more can they keep asking for fans to cough up in order to get cosmetic content? This game has a Season Pass, which by many standards thus far is one of the worst yet in Call of Duty’s history as it offers less content than previous Season Passes in terms of how many MP maps are coming in the end (12 this year vs. 16 before). And the season pass model continues to be outdated and split the community up with MP maps – something many in the industry have already moved on from, but Activision is stuck on.
How far will Activision take Reserve Crates in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is yet to be seen, but don’t forget this:
In the earnings call last week, Activision made it clear Black Ops 4’s microtransactions were not selling high enough, and as such, the crates are the first step to add additional revenue from the game.
Just like Activision’s failure to not take Blackout free to play, Supply Drops is another thing that will drive some hardcore players away to play other games that offer more value than Call of Duty does.