Game development can generate lucrative business if done right. After all, the games industry is the most profitable form of media—making more than the film and music industries combined over the last decade. Recently, Call of Duty publisher Activision explored a new business model with its most recent game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. It ditched its in-game monetization that previously featured random loot boxes, purchasable map packs, and Season Passes that divided the player-base, for a more all-inclusive approach, mirroring Fortnite’s battle pass system, where players purchase a track to earn cosmetic rewards as they play through a season. This new business model paid off, earning the company 4% more in revenue during its launch quarter than the previous year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.
Modern Warfare’s new business model is much more transparent than before, giving you a clear indication as to what your hard-earned real-world money will get you. In previous Call of Duty games, you’d have the ability to purchase chests that contained random items, with varying degrees of rarity. It also split its player-base by offering map packs for a price, which has been remedied in Modern Warfare with all new maps made available to players through free updates. The old model received criticism from fans, prompting a change with 2019’s entry. (Editor’s Note: The change also came along with a general shift in how games have been handling monetization.) Though it was a bit of a risk to implement such a substantial change, the 4% revenue increase shows it was a positive change for the series.
Players spent a total of $78.7 million in Modern Warfare during December 2019 alone, the first month in-game spending was made available. For comparison, the in-game revenue generated during Black Ops 4’s entire first quarter totaled to $92.9 million.
Modern Warfare was also 2019’s bestselling game and was the highest-earning console game of December 2019—even making more than Fortnite. It’s unclear if this business model will continue with 2020’s as yet unannounced Call of Duty, but given its success (and the general shift in the gaming industry), it wouldn’t be surprising to see it return.
As Modern Warfare’s Season One wraps up, a new update has just rolled out, giving players an updated playlist, extra weapon slots, and the inclusion of a new Crossbow weapon. Season One will last for a bit longer than intended, ending in mid-February, allowing players to spend a few more weeks earning the game’s Battle Pass rewards.