Activision Experiments With Low-Cost Multiplayer For Black Ops 3

👤by Tim Harmer Comments 📅17.02.2016 23:40:56


Low-cost multiplayer-only titles are hardly a new aspect of the gaming landscape, but in recent years the pace and profile of these releases have certainly picked up. Now Activision is turning its attention to this niche corner of gaming, and is bringing their big gun - Call of Duty: Black Ops 3's multiplayer. Until February 29th newcomers to the game can pick up the Multiplayer Starter Pack, a limited form of the game*, for only £11.59 and enjoy Black Ops 3's acclaimed player vs player action.

The dominant presences in this subset of FPS titles is Valve, who released the enormously successful Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in 2012. Priced at around the $20 mark, it was complemented by the already free-to-play Team Fortress 2 and backed by a microtransaction store, marketplace and Steam's PC ubiquity. Late last year another behemoth threw its hat into the arena; Blizzard's Overwatch, currently in closed beta and due to launch in the Spring, is once again priced substantially below the $60 point on PC.

These releases are in star contrast to the two more widely accepted models for FPS titles: free-to-play releases wholly supported by microtransactions that form the basis of player progression, and full-price games with no effective single player component. The former is plagued by player dissatisfaction over the almost inevitable pay-to-win aspects of the game, whilst the latter took a hit after Titanfall and Evolve both flopped on release.

The popularity of CS:GO and monumental hype behind Overwatch has however raised the question amongst many commentators of if games could be successful when sold a la carté, i.e. parts of it sliced off and sold as stand-alone modules to target specific markets and demographics; that's in contrast to DLC, which is not generally stand-alone. It would be most notable in $60 games that have both single- and multi-player components, but are generally purchased for the latter. Titles in the Call of Duty franchise are a case in point: gamers may play through the campaign, but fans of the series generally invest orders of magnitude more hours in the multiplayer.

By selling a limited version of the CoD: Black Ops 3 multiplayer as a standalone game Activision are testing the waters, but they're doing it in a way which is reasonably consumer friendly:

*About The Call of Duty: Black Ops III - Multiplayer Starter Pack

The Call of Duty: Black Ops III Multiplayer Starter Pack allows you to experience the ranked Multiplayer game mode of Black Ops III. This is a Multiplayer-only version of Black Ops III that has limited content. See below for more detail.

The Multiplayer Starter Pack gives you access to Public Ranked Multiplayer matches and features including Weapon Paint Shop, Gunsmith, Arena, Freerun, Theater, and the Black Market.

For the complete Call of Duty: Black Ops III experience, you will need to upgrade to the full version of the game. Below is a list of features not available in the Multiplayer Starter Pack.

- Zombies game mode
- Campaign game mode
- Ability to play in Multiplayer custom games
- Ability to Prestige (your level will be capped at 55 in the Starter Pack)
- Access to mod tools or modded content (once released)
- Access to unranked server browser (once released)
- Ability to Fresh Start your profile
- The ability to access Dead Ops Arcade II and Nightmares mode

At any time, you can upgrade to a full version of Call of Duty: Black Ops III, and the price you paid for the Starter Pack will automatically be deducted from the price of the full game or Digital Deluxe Edition.


The ~$15 price tag is a clear shot across CS:GO's bow, and in theory you're still getting quite a bit of content. The question is whether it will be successful, and based on that success if similar Starter Packs will be policy for new releases in the franchise.

You can pick up the Call of Duty: Black Ops III - Multiplayer Starter Pack from Steam until the 29th February, priced at £11.59 or your local equivalent. On the same platform the full game is currently £39.99. This offer is currently exclusive to PC.

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