Activision released a Call of Duty: Black Ops III Starter Pack for PC that’s only available until Feb. 29. The pack is effectively a minimalist version of the multiplayer component of Black Ops III, without access to the campaign, zombie, Dead Ops, Nightmare mode, custom games, mods or the ability to restart your profile. The pack also includes Free Run and a level cap at 55, meaning that players cannot prestige to try again.
There are two success scenarios, and being that this is the Internet, we’ll take both to the furthest reaches of exaggeration:
Let’s step into the Hyperbolic Rhyme Chamber.
SCENARIO A: PRURITUS
Scratchin' gold like Midas
This brilliant split scratches the multiplayer itch that can’t be scratched for more than $15. The player base is sustained for a much longer period of time, leading to better matchmaking and a happier and more diverse community. The addition of more players fortifies the less popular game modes, ensuring their survival for those that enjoy them. Friends that were reluctant to drop money for the full price to help you with Capture the Flag can now do so for the same price as most indie games. If it doesn’t fully satisfy them, the upgrade is just $45 (not that $45 is an amount usually referred to as “just”).
SCENARIO B: ROBBER BARONS
aka WTF without Marc Maron
More like the Hyperbolic Crime Chamber... This devilish scheme drives the AAA fat cats to split their games further, dividing the player base and fans. If a game can be cut into unequal halves, why not split it further? A third of a game for $15 seems alright, but if you charge the same for the other two-thirds, you’ve paid 25 percent more than you typically would at launch. It’s like companies throwing a piece of bread at you when you order a sandwich, then making you reorder the sandwich two more times for meat and the other slice of bread (sorry, veggies are planned DLC). The worst part is that you don’t even get unlimited refills — stripping the game of the prestige system is like getting a half-full drink that leaves you thirstier than before.
The probable truth
Outside of the Chamber, this is honestly an interesting piece of experimentation, something that AAA developers don't often do. It doesn't seem like a greedy money push, although the lack of the prestige system is a bit shady. The reality of this situation is that this will most likely have the same effect as a free weekend: a temporary boost in player population, a few amateurs satisfied with their competitive fix and a couple of relieved critics happy they didn't buy the full thing. Regardless, this brief foray into game-splitting is more than likely a sign of attempted player satisfaction instead of a symbol of the money-centric nature of AAA development. Sometimes, it's nice to order off menu, trust the chef and get a surprise.