Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is nearly upon us, but I wanted to take some time to delve a little deeper into its three pre-order editions in relation to the future of pricing practices. As a direct sequel to the first Black Ops, Cold War brings back some familiar faces and the boots-on-the-ground gameplay that the community seems to prefer over wall-running and jetpacking. At launch, Cold War offers three editions – the standard, the digital cross-gen bundle, and the ultimate edition. Though appropriately priced for what’s offered, I can’t help but question the pricing model for next-gen games to come.
In the digital cross-gen bundle, priced ten-dollars higher than the usual, current gen game at $69.99/£64.99, the game offers early access to the multiplayer beta, a Woods operator pack that features a weapon blueprint, a voice quip, and a finishing move along with Sgt. Frank Woods as a playable operator in Modern Warfare and Warzone, and cross-generation compatibility. The standard edition will get you everything mentioned previously, aside from the next-gen advantages for the regular retail price of $59.99/£59.99. If you’re willing to pay top dollar for this year’s Call of Duty, then the ultimate edition offers exclusive skins, weapon blueprints and vehicle skins, along with the Season One Battle Pass Bundle and the “Confrontation” weapons pack for $89.99/£89.99. Cold War will also support cross-progression and cross-play.
From a business standpoint, this appears to be a completely understandable model for the future of gaming, but when forced to compare ideologies between other accredited developers like CD Projekt Red, this seemingly inevitable inflation is less favorable. As the developer of the highly anticipated sci-fi RPG juggernaut Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt Red has earned its respect from the gaming community, not only from its nearly perfect track record, but also from its less egregious business practices that include no price increase for its next-gen release through Xbox’s fantastic Smart Delivery system. “Gamers should never be forced to purchase the same game twice or pay for upgrades” said the developer via Twitter. While this decision leans more towards the gamers’ favor, I won’t shame those who ask for a few dollars more. Games are a business just as much as everything else, and as our technology advances, so does the quality of the overall experience. Prices increase on both sides, whether you want to believe it or not.
NBA 2K21 has also seen a slight inflation of their next-gen prices, and while others have not yet followed similar practices, it’s only a matter of time. After about some ten-odd years, prices have remained the same, and if these consoles are as powerful as they are advertised to be, it would be completely understandable to charge more for their subsequent products. A tough pill to swallow considering the current financial hardship. Fortunately, Microsoft will offer the ability to finance both the Xbox Series X and S, which are priced at $499 and $299 respectively for a November release date.
As fans are eager for the release of the next installment in the Call of Duty franchise, there are many different purchasing paths to choose from depending on your current financial situation. Treyarch’s current model favors the purchase of the digital cross-gen bundle, as it offers a rather cheap upgrade price that includes higher framerate, hardware-based ray-tracing, and shorter load times to name a few. However, by purchasing the current gen standard edition, backwards compatibility allows you to play that version on next-gen consoles, just without those aforementioned tech upgrades.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War releases on November 13th for Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC, and Xbox Series X/S, Playstation 5.