Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered is finally getting a standalone release on June 27, almost a year after it became available in a bundle with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. At least it is on PS4 — Xbox One and PC gamers will have to wait longer. Modern Warfare Remastered is a great re-release of an excellent game. It's a testament to the quality of the original (now a decade old) title that there's still an active player base, and you'll typically have no problem matchmaking into a game of Team Deathmatch in moments. However, the way Activision has marketed Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered, and the decisions it's made to monetize the game further are absolutely anti-consumer.
A lot of work went into updating the graphics, models and sound for Modern Warfare Remastered, and Raven Software did a great job bringing the game up to modern standards without altering the feel of the original title. In fact, they may have done too good of a job. It's not a confirmed fact, but it's easy to look at the great response to Modern Warfare Remastered and the lackluster response from fans for Infinite Warfare and draw certain conclusions.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered Standalone Release: Killing two birds with one stone
The first injustice Activision committed against Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered was making it only available via a bundle purchase with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Infinite Warfare was panned by franchise fans after the release of the first trailer, which may have influenced Activision to make the decision to not offer Modern Warfare Remastered as a standalone.
What better way to make diehard fans of the franchise buy Infinite Warfare than by putting a remaster of what many consider to be the best game in the series with it? Activision killed two birds with one stone with this move. Infinite Warfare wouldn't have to compete with Modern Warfare Remastered in the market, and the Modern Warfare Remastered bundle would help improve the expected lower sales.
That move sucked, but you could get the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Legacy Edition, which included Modern Warfare Remastered, for around $79.99. With the base edition of Infinite Warfare retailing for $59.99, you were only paying $20 for Modern Warfare Remastered. This wasn't a bad deal unless you really hated the idea of ever playing Infinite Warfare.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered Standalone Release: Why not microtransactions?
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered launched alongside Infinite Warfare on November 4, 2016, albeit missing six of the original game's multiplayer maps. Even though players weren't thrilled about having to buy the game in a bundle, reception of Modern Warfare Remastered was warm. Unfortunately, Activision wasn't through milking the Modern Warfare cash cow.
Activision waited until about a month after release, when all the review scores for Infinite Warfare and Modern Warfare Remastered were tallied, and switched on a feature of the game that no one had discussed before: microtransactions.
On December 14, 2016, the Depot opened as an option in the multiplayer menu. In the depot, you can exchange COD Points that you have to buy with real money, or Depot Credits you can earn in game for supply drops. In the beginning, each supply drop just contained cosmetics or salvage that could be used to craft cosmetics. It was a bummer to see that Activision was adding microtransactions to what at heart is a decade-old game, but the cosmetics weren't a must have.
In the same December 14 patch, players got the remaining six of the 16 base multiplayer maps that debuted in the original Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Most saw this as a positive sign and given that the supply crates were cosmetic only, a lot of players let them slide. Fans alleged that Activision promised that any microtransaction DLC would never be pay-to-win, and would only consist of cosmetic items. It kept that promise all the way up until February.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered Standalone Release: Remember that thing we said we wouldn't do? We're doing it.
On February 7, 2017, Activision released three new guns that you have to assemble out of parts obtained through the Depot supply crates. All three are fairly powerful and boost a new player's ability to score kills. Raven Software stated that game balance remained its No. 1 priority, but fans remain skeptical.
Another outburst from Modern Warfare Remastered players occurred after Activision announced that the remastered Variety Map Pack would be available on March 21, 2017, but that it would cost an additional $15, even if you own the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Season Pass. Adding insult to injury, the original Variety Map Pack for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was only $9.99.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered Standalone Release: The search for more money
Finally, after nine months, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered is getting a standalone release. Not content to sit on the cash it already squeezed out of the game, Activision has announced that instead of the $20 that the game sold for via the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Legacy Edition bundle, you'll have to pay $40 for the standalone. Also, you don't get the Variety Map Pack with it; you can go ahead and pay another $15 for that.
The standalone and the map pack combined almost add up to the $60 MSRP of a brand new title. Charging $55 for the remaster of a game that's a decade old is ridiculous, especially given that in three and a half months Call of Duty: WW2 is releasing for around that price.
Long story short: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered is a bad deal with almost a year's history of Activision constantly squeezing customers for more. Fans that have supported the Call of Duty franchise for years and given hundreds of dollars to Activision for each yearly release are getting screwed over so they can play a game they already played ten years ago. My advice is to vote with your wallet, and wait until this game is on sale. A reasonable price would be $20 with the map pack, $55 just isn't cutting it.
More gaming news and updates
Check out the latest from Mic, like this essay about the sinister, subtle evils lurking in rural America that Far Cry 5 shouldn’t ignore. Also, be sure to read our review of Tekken 7, an article about D.Va’s influence on one Overwatch player’s ideas about femininity and an analysis of gaming’s racist habit of darkening villains’ skin tones.