The makers of Call of Duty have finally found an answer to a growing problem in the COD franchise. The only revenue the company used from creating a video game was through initial sales of the game itself. Call of Duty games are traditionally released in November, right before the holidays. Activision and other COD makers will see a huge increase in sales at the end of each year, but that’s about it. So how can video game makers continue to collect money from gamers during the entire year? Answer: supply decreases.
First introduced in Advanced Warfare in 2014, supply drops let the player play a lottery to “win” better weapons, cooler camouflages, and nifty virtual gear. Sledgehammer Games, the creator of AW, has put this feature into the game as an added bonus for players who either play the game a lot (and earn “keys” to unlock Supply Drops with every match played), or spend actual money on “COD Points”. Each supply drop opening resulted in three items of varying rarity. Players can use virtual “keys” or their COD Points to unlock a Common (less chance of getting a rare item) or Rare Chance (higher chance of getting a rare item). With each opening, players received items to further customize their character or a weapon to show off to their friends… which is why supply drops worked (and, honestly, were pretty cool). Video game creators have taken advantage of the competitive and somewhat immature minds of gamers. Players can now circumvent the tedious task of getting 250 headshots to get a rare camo by purchasing more COD Points. It took time and skill to get out of the equation for the money. And so, the cash flow.
Supply drops have become so successful that Treyarch and Infinity Ward, the creators of Black Ops III and Infinite Warfare respectively, have continued the trend. Call of Duty franchise makers can now continue to generate revenue for the life of the game, rather than just having the person buy the game in the store. According to Activision’s Q4 2016 earnings call, the company brought in an additional $3.6 billion through in-game content sales (mostly from COD: Black Ops III and Overwatch). this is unbelievable!
Some players may say that low supply spoils the game. I happen to agree – especially for the newest CoD game, Infinite Warfare. In Infinite Warfare, weapon variants, or different (and statistically better) versions of shotguns, make playing generic matches more frustrating. For example, Erad used to be one of my favorite weapons in the game. I played with the common (basic) variant, and was pretty good with it… until I came face to face with a player who had the legendary (more rare) variant of the gun – called the ‘cyclopean’. It literally shoots a laser beam instead of normal bullets. I didn’t have a chance. I get killed over and over again by the same player. I got so frustrated with this one match that I ended up never using my Erad stock variant again. I knew that if I wanted to have a chance at winning gunfights, I needed different types of Legendary weapons, which were hard to get without unlocking supply drops.
Supply drops are a hot topic in the Call of Duty community. They’ve been a massive hit for video game creators, as money has never been more plentiful; However, they give an unfair advantage to the players who spend the most money. I love the good old days of CoD4 where the only way to get rare cams was to play the game and hone your skills, not by buying rare items.