Call of Duty: Warzone: Is a new coat of paint enough to save a dying genre?

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Warzone - Call of Duty: Warzone

Activision Blizzard

Call of Duty: Warzone released a little over a week ago. Will Activision’s second attempt at battle royale prove successful?

The battle royale genre exploded in 2017, and the start of that boom can be traced back to mid 2017 and PlayerUnkown’s Battlegrounds. Of course, the battle royale genre can be tracked back to H1N1 and DayZ, but PUBG started to raise people’s interest in the genre.

Games that could take anywhere from 3 to 30 minutes meant more dense play time with little to no time commitment. The limited four-player squad size allowed the whole friend group to show up and brag about who the best is without having to worry about random strangers who are also on the team, winning felt like a monumental accomplishment, with the intensity and number of players the game provided.

PUBG fit perfectly into the gaming landscape of 2017, with hero based games starting to lose interest and the indie game revolution at it’s apex. PUBG looked set to lead this fresh, new, and exciting genre into the future.

Then Fortnite happened.

Fortnite did not just take battle royale by storm, it took the world by storm. Fortnite single-handedly revamped and rebuilt the way streaming services like Twitch, Youtube, Facebook, and even Mixer worked (Fortnite made Mixer relevant).

The audience around Fortnite drove gamers back to rebuild and revamp Minecraft, to the point that it is now the number one highest grossing video game of all-time. Ellen and Jimmy Fallon were playing Fortnite on television, Sen. Bernie Sanders was streaming on Twitch, President Trump blamed gun violence on Fortnite.

Fortnite put a gaming personality on the cover of ESPN magazine and on the main stage in New York during the New Years Eve celebration. Fortnite had millions of people not playing, but watching what gaming personality TFue described as a “space butthole” for four days straight.

Everywhere people turned they saw Fortnite, and that oversaturation soured the general audience to the battle royale genre as a whole. Triple A publishers also got in on the battle royale trend around this time, with little to no success. Enter Activision and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 – Blackout. Initially received with high praise, the hype surrounding the game was limited and died off quickly with the game mode being locked behind a $60  purchase for the full game. The game mode was also filled with microtransactions with many outlets labeling some of the upgrade as a “pay-to-win” system, which is unacceptable for a $60 video game.

Call of Duty had something positive going with Blackout, so it made sense for Activision to take another shot at the battle royale genre in their next title. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare had a very positively received multiplayer system, an active player base, and the polish of a triple a video game. When rumors of a battle royale add-on started circling in mid-2019, fans and analyst were excited to see if Activision could save the dying genre.

Then on March 10th, Activision released Warzone, a free-to-play add-on to Modern Warfare that anyone could download and play. Available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One, Warzone was easily accessible to most gamers across the planet, given they had nearly 100 GB of free space to download Modern Warfare. With cross-platform play and progression encouraging more and more players to join their friends across the world, jumping up to 15 million players in only four days, making it the quickest growing non-mobile game in history.

How does Warzone hold up to other games in the genre? Can the newest entry in the battle-royale genre pull the genre out of it’s rut and lead it’s competitors into the future?

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