In-game items being locked behind paywalls is definitely a sore topic in the gaming community. It takes the precipice of loot boxes being cosmetic-only, and has the idea toe a very fine line between "voluntary" versus inhibiting the game experience. When Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 design lead David Vonderhaar mentioned that certain Blackout characters would be locked behind said paywall after these items were implemented with the Operation Grand Heist update, there was an almost immediate backlash.
The Reddit boards were up in arms when an older interview came to light where Vonderhaar promised that all Blackout characters could be unlocked via good 'ol fashioned grind. It didn't take long for the design director to comment, mentioning that the original interview was before the game had launched and that his previously mentioned goal was a part of the original plan.
"At the time this interview was conducted, which was previous to shipping the game, that's precisely and exactly how it worked," he mentioned in response to a fan saying that Activision shouldn't make these sort of promises until they are set in stone. "If I went back in time and re-did this interview, I'd have to answer it the same way I did then."
He then added that "things change" and sometimes that includes the basic mechanics of unlockables. He also added a few other examples of this, saying:
- Allowing Specialist to be unlocked to anyone without having to quest (based on inputs that players had Cosmetics they had earned, but couldn't use them in Blackout)
- Add new characters for Season Pass holders (based on inputs to give Season Pass holders more content)
"Those two things were not exactly in the design plans at the time. It's a chicken and egg problem. I can tell you what we have done and what we plan on doing, but things change that I can not predict or I didn't know about. Doubly true with the business side of things which have little insight into and even less control over."
He then got a little bit cheeky when he added that the only other alternative in reference to his original interview is to just "never give interviews, nor answer questions." He added, ?"Those two things were not exactly in the design plans at the time. It's a chicken and egg problem. I can tell you what we have done and what we plan on doing, but things change that I can not predict or I didn't know about. Doubly true with the business side of things which have little insight into and even less control over."
Though it's true that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has performed exceedingly well, it didn't quite make the expectations that Activision had for it. With the new Operation, it was a chance for the studio to try to rectify previous projection errors, despite going against the original plan.
What do you think? Honest changes, or do you think we're not getting the full story? Sound off with your thoughts in the comment section below, or hit me up over on Twitter @DirtyEffinHippy!