Few videogame franchises enjoy the fervent following that Call of Duty attracts each year. While some players try out the campaign or play the cooperative zombie survival mode, the biggest draw of any game in the series is the competitive multiplayer. Millions of players log directly into the multiplayer, forgoing the campaign entirely. Still, developers working on the franchise have staunchly supported the inclusion of a campaign in their games, stating that it benefits the overall player experience.
As the latest console cycle progresses, game developers are shifting their focus away from the last generation. However, for big games like Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, there's a massive audience that still hasn't made the jump to the new generation of consoles. Rather than forgo possible sales, the developers will create a version that works on the last generation consoles, minus some key features.
Unfortunately, for gamers still playing Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, the key feature missing from Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 is the entirety of the campaign. Activision announced the exclusion today on their official Call of Duty blog, citing the technical limitations of last gen.
"The 'Black Ops 3' PS3 and Xbox 360 versions will features Multiplayer and Zombies gameplay only, not Campaign. The ambitious scope of the 1-4 player coop Campaign design of the PS4, Xbox One and PC versions could not be faithfully recreated on old generation hardware. Delivering the best possible gameplay experience on all platforms is always our highest priority."
The post also indicates that features such as the Weapon Paint Shop and eSports tools will be exclusive to PS4, Xbox One and PC. To help take some of the sting out of the missing features, the suggested retail price of the last-gen versions of Black Ops 3 is $49.99 and includes a free download of the original Black Ops game in some regions.
It's not surprising that the developers would choose to axe the campaign over multiplayer features, as the Call of Duty playerbase tends to focus on the multiplayer modes. However, it's still disappointing news. Campaigns may not feel necessary for multiplayer-focused games, but the absence of one was one of the most-cited problems with 2014's Titanfall.
Developers will continue to learn new ways to take full advantage of the current generation as we move further from launch. Microsoft's upcoming exclusive Crackdown 3 is a good example, utilizing the Microsoft Cloud to increase the processing speed of the console. With the increased power, the developer is able to allow for a fully destructible game world, something impossible on the previous generation of consoles.
As the gap between the generations is expanded, the likelihood of comparable last-gen ports will continue to decline. Additionally, with the rapidly increasing install base of Xbox One and PS4, the appeal of dedicating resources to a downgraded version of the game is decreasing. The current generation of consoles is selling faster than any previous console and the expected price drops of the holiday season will only further expand that install base. With that in mind, it's not hard to believe that many developers will be going next-gen exclusive with their upcoming projects.