Games Inbox: Are you getting Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare?

The Friday Inbox discusses the problems of replaying a story-based video game, as one reader praises Dragon Quest XI’s post-game content.

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Wait and see

So I’m writing this on Thursday afternoon and there’s no sign of a Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare review anywhere. Which I assume means that even when IGN and whoever put there’s out it will be Friday anyway, once the game is out. That Activision hasn’t sent a review copy to GC, and I imagine many others, says a lot about not only how Activision thinks of the press but also its customers.

I’m sure the game is at least pretty good so they only reason they’re holding back reviews is that they don’t want to risk any bad publicity and if there is anything bad about the game they don’t want people finding out until after it’s out. I find that disgusting to be honest and it’s the one thing that’s put me off the game the most. That and their trick of adding microtransactions to a game months after it’s out and it’s already got its reviews/age rating.

As other people have said about big publishers – because it’s not just Activision – I don’t know why they can’t just make a good game and just sell it on its own merits. Let people give you money because they appreciate the thing you’ve made, not because you’ve tricked them into spending money before they knew the full facts.

For these reasons I will not be getting the game this week. I will also wait for Black Friday. That’s what Activision’s policies have inspired me to do. I’m sure I’m a minority and the game will be a huge success from the off, but personally I’m not willing to reward their anti-consumer policies.


Over the limit

For various reasons I’ve long been looking forward to Obsidian’s The Outer Worlds and as such I’m encouraged by generally how well received it has been by reviews. Certainly, I will be buying a copy on release.

It’s interesting to note that not only is it receiving praise for what it’s good at (while not being particularly groundbreaking) but also for what as a game it doesn’t represent: a game with copious bugs, loot boxes, microtransactions, pay-to-win elements, game as a service, and so on. I guess that’s a pretty damning reflection on the state of the current gaming industry.

Comparisons with Bethesda and Fallout 76 are inevitable and clearly Obsidian is not doing anything to discourage that. I don’t blame them, especially when Bethesda is still treating its customer base with utter contempt with its latest announcement regarding private servers. They must have known this was a week when Obsidian’s game is to be released – one wonders what on earth they were thinking given the predictable adverse publicity that has ensured.

With all this in mind I hope that The Outer Worlds performs well sales wise, not only for its own merits but also as a message sent – by a vote of the wallet – that contempt of customers has its limits.
Paul Williams


First time bonus

My enjoyment of playing through single-player games again seems to be inversely proportional to how much I enjoyed the story. Half-Life 2, The Witcher 3, the Red Deads, and Portals have some of my favourite plots and characters yet playing through these games again never recaptured the first time magic. I think that when I am engrossed in the story I can forgive any gameplay issues far more easily and, obviously enough, that isn’t there when you’ve done it before.

Conversely, I can restart a GTA or Bethesda Elder Scrolls/Fallout and have as good of a time as before. Not being invested in their plots to the same extent, I’d have spent a lot of the first playthroughs goofing off, picking fights with police/guards, etc. When I play them again I do much the same, but maybe with a different playstyle or character build, and use the story missions as a means to an end (unlocking new areas/weapons/levels). In the cases of Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, I enjoyed them a lot more as I understood the game mechanics a lot better.
The Light Knight


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Insoluble problem

By definition a microtransaction is the purchase of a defined item, such as a skin or an in-game perk. You know what you’re getting.

By definition a loot box is an unknown reward which is purchased. And as some countries define, a gamble on its content. You don’t know what you’re getting.

I don’t know how many times it’s been said on these pages but all games publishers, makers, designers, and all associated companies are businesses and there priority is making money for themselves or investors. Rightly or wrongly, currently microtransactions and loot boxes are a very good model for making money and frankly we are stuck with it until a new model comes along. Also remember they are not your friend regardless of how they act on Twitter, they want your money!

The simple solution to end both practices is for all gamers not to purchase either. But that will never happen until the big ball of flames in the sky envelopes us all! There will always be people who will want to look different and be their own identity in a game, thanks especially to the rise of multiplayer, and there will always be people with money willing to buy these things. Again, rightly or wrongly, there are also those who will gamble on an item.

So what other solutions are open to us? Remove any extra content completely? Use a play and reward system? We have seen over the years stories of game ‘farming’ where people work in almost slave-like conditions to farm rewards that are then sold on the Internet to the highest bidder, with little going back to the worker. So that one’s off the table. End free games and shift the problem down the line to those that can afford a game and those that can’t? Hope a seriously detached bunch of politicians or public officials understand the situation is more than just tax revenues?

So maybe this could be a Hot Topic issue, what is the best way to solve this crisis? With the caveat that businesses still need to make a profit.


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