Update: Activision has officially announced Call of Duty: Warzone. The game will launch tomorrow, March 10 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Check out the announcement trailer below:
Original story below:
It turns out, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s datamined battle royale mode isn’t going to be directly tied to the game itself, and will instead be a free-to-play standalone game called Call of Duty: Warzone.
News of this comes from a since-removed video from YouTuber Chaos, a prominent Call of Duty channel. But before it could be taken down, several people saw it and have since reported on all the information it contained (thanks IGN).
While the original datamine implied that Warzone would support 200 players, according to Chaos’ video, the game will support 150 at launch instead. It will feature two modes: the fairly standard battle royale mode of fighting until the last person is standing, with support for single, duo, or trio teams, and a second mode called “Plunder,” but the video was vague on the details for that one beyond saying it is a “respawn-based mode” that has some cash collecting mechanics tied into it.
Also of note, Warzone will apparently support cross-play across all platforms, so everyone can play together regardless of what system they’re playing on.
There’s still no official word on Warzone’s launch from Activision, but ads for the battle royale game have already started showing up on Twitch with a big orange button that says “join now,” meaning it could be showing up on digital storefronts fairly soon. Maybe even this week if Activision’s looking at Beyoncé’s career and being like “hey, we could do that too.”
— Call of Duty Modern Warfare Stats (@CODTracker) March 9, 2020
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Since an official announcement seems imminent, Activision and friends will likely be able to speak on things like planned support with more specificity than Chaos could, but making Call of Duty: Warzone a free-to-play game rather than tied to a specific Call of Duty game is a pretty smart way to actually compete with games like Fortnite and PUBG in the battle royale space long term. If a battle royale mode is locked to one game, players will move on to the next one within a year when November rolls around and that year’s game is on store shelves. But if it’s a free-to-play service game in its own right, Warzone can cultivate its own player base without having to reset every year like a standard Call of Duty game typically does.
Will it reach Fortnite levels? Honestly, if any franchise has a shot at replicating that success it’s probably Call of Duty. The series is still raking in billions of dollars in revenue for Activision each year, with Modern Warfare crossing that threshold just under a month after it launched last year. It’s also checking off several boxes for people who might enjoy the idea of a battle royale game but aren’t necessarily down with Fortnite’s aesthetic or tone, so there’s an untapped audience here that might be ready and eager to jump onto something like this. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Warzone becoming a big bullet point on future financial briefings for Activision after it officially launches.