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Call of Duty drops loot boxes in favor of battle passes in Modern Warfare

Past Call of Duty games have included loot boxes, a now-controversial monetization practice, but Modern Warfare publisher Activision says the latest game is taking a different approach.

Activision says the latest game in its long-running Call of Duty series won’t feature loot boxes, and will instead offer its players a more transparent battle pass as a way to earn additional in-game content following the game’s release.

The publisher detailed the shift in a blog post, explaining that the pass itself will offer a “free” tier for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare players that own the game, as well as a premium tier for those that pay to opt into more rewards.

While loot boxes rely on obscuring potential rewards behind chance-based rolls, Activision says its battle pass will allow players to see any in-game content earned through the system or purchased with in-game currency picked up through battle pass rewards.

As part of those efforts, the battle pass won’t launch alongside Call of Duty: Modern Warfare on October 25. Instead, Activision plans to introduce the feature later in 2019, partially as a way to ensure players have a chance to earn gear through regular gameplay progression first and foremost.

Battle passes like the one detailed by Activision have become an increasingly popular way for developers to monetize their live games as of late, with games like Destiny 2, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Fortnite, Rocket League, and even the mobile Mario Kart Tour offering battle passes at one point or another.

The system offers periodic rewards like items, currency, and emotes based on playtime and progress and typically requires players to pay a fee per in-game season, though some like Destiny and now Modern Warfare offer a free tier of rewards as well. A handful of games use battle passes in conjunction with loot boxes, but in this case Activision has decided to omit loot boxes altogether.

“Understandably there are still questions around how the economy will evolve throughout the post-launch, live seasons,” explains Activision. “We recognize this will take time to fully demonstrate. Please know we are committed to delivering a fair system guided by the principles we’ve outlined here, and will continue to monitor feedback and player engagement to help us achieve that goal.”

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