Activision has pushed Call of Duty: WWII‘s microtransactions to the forefront of its advertising on PC, with the game’s banner ad on Steam focusing upon “Call of Duty Points” rather than the game itself.
Call of Duty Points will be used to purchase in-game content in Call of Duty: WWII, with the currency obtained using real-world money. While microtransactions are an inevitability in modern video games, they’re routinely the subject of derision from consumers and critics alike, though apparently this hasn’t dissuaded Activision from pushing them to the very front of Call of Duty: WWII‘s Steam advertising.
The below banner ad is currently showing up on many Steam users’ “Featured & Recommended” slide, pushing any screenshots of Call of Duty: WWII to the side in favor of advertising its “Digital Edition Bonus Content,” which happens to be 1,100 Call of Duty Points:
Similarly, when Steam users navigate to the upcoming game’s Steam page, the “About This Game” section immediately advertises the microtransactions rather than the game itself. While it’s become somewhat commonplace for pre-order bonuses for major games to take pride of place on their Steam pages, it’s still unusual for microtransactions to be pushed so heavily, given the continued controversies surrounding their pernicious influence on the modern gaming industry.
This is a very unusual stance for Activision to adopt. Call of Duty: WWII has already received a notable amount of negative feedback since its beta, with many players concerned that it will be another disappointing addition to a series that has been steadily stagnating. With the game set to be a return to the “boots on the ground” gameplay the series was once famous for, and a clear attempt to court the attention of veteran players who have grown disinterested in the franchise, making microtransactions the focal point of its ad to PC players is a needlessly risky move.
People don’t like microtransactions. Even those who actively invest in microtransactions would rather that microtransactions didn’t exist, and that they could instead simply unlock all of the cool stuff by playing the game. However, microtransactions are an unfortunate inevitability these days, as we now expect them to be introduced in every new triple-A release. However, there’s a difference between microtransactions being in your game and players accepting them, and them actually being selling point for that game. Does Activision expect Steam users to see this ad and think to themselves: “Oh sweet, more microtransactions”? Or is it much more likely that those on the fence about buying the game will see it in the Steam store, conclude from its advertising that it’s a pay-to-win game and choose not to buy it as a result?
There’s no word yet on how much influence Call of Duty Points will have on Call of Duty: WWII, so we can’t judge whether or not they’ll give those with more cash to blow an advantage in the game. However, pushing them so heavily in the game’s Steam advertising sends a poor message to PC players, and it’s unlikely that it’ll have the desired effect for Activision in making players want to pre-order the game.