No surprises here; Activision has announced yet another addition to the Call of Duty franchise, on top of Black Ops 2. What’s nice to see, however, is that Black Ops 2 isn’t looking like its predecessor and the new game, Call of Duty Online, is working towards a different target audience entirely.
On Thursday, Activion and China-based games Tencent Holdings Limited accounced their new free-to-play MMO. In late June last year, Activision registered 17 China-related domain names including CallofDutyChina.com, and the MMO is planning to target a Chinese audience. The previous Call of Duty games were not permitted in China, due to very strict censorship laws within the country. This time, however, since Activision is working with Tencent the game should have no trouble being brought to China.
“We are thrilled to work with the world’s premiere game developer and publisher to bring this much-awaited title to Chinese game players. We believe Call of Duty Online will attract tens of millions of loyal fans in China,” said Martin Lau, President of Tencent.
While the game is free-to-play, the developers will be relying on micropayments in order to gain revenue. These micropayments come in the form of purchasing upgrades and new items, which is a pretty effective approach used for mobile games or Facebook applications like Farmville. This approach has been chosen specifically for China, to counter the huge losses many developers suffer from in that market, due to rampant piracy within the country.
The game has many new features, including a lot of customization of weapons, characters and equipment. There’s an in-game store which can be used to enhance almost anything for the Chinese market. In addition, there’s also a variety of game modes, even a campaign-style mode with a storyline that mimics Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s universe.
It’s great to see the franchise genuinely heading in a different direction, and taking somewhat of a risk. It’s anybody’s guess how the game will fare in the conservative Chinese market.