Publishers often use pre-orders to determine how well their game will perform, so if the cancellation of pre-orders in response to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's PS4-exclusive game mode is any indication, the game won't be doing as well as expected.
There are plenty of vocal opponents of many annoying aspects of modern games, but high sales numbers prove that players as a whole have come to tolerate a lot of obnoxious “features” that modern publishers push on us. They tolerate games that have pay-to-win lootboxes. They enjoy games that have day 1 DLC. But it seems that there’s one thing that gamers won’t tolerate, and that is having your favorite games machine getting stiffed out of an entire game mode.
Ever since it was revealed that PC and Xbox One players would have to wait a whole year to play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s Spec Ops Survival mode – a mode that would be available from day one on PS4 - there has been a significant amount of backlash. What’s more, the backlash seems to actually be affecting the Activision’s pocketbook.
While there have been no official numbers released, trusted sources have told our sister site GameRant that people have been cancelling their preorders in response to the news, and the preorder numbers have been well below expectations for the upcoming reboot of the Modern Warfare franchise.
The game's director has said that the exclusivity deal is “above our pay grade,” so the exclusivity appears to be a high-level decision that’s unlikely to be reversed. However, if the pushback is strong enough to cause Activision’s flagship franchise to underperform, there’s a chance that it’ll result in a change in policy which will prevent future games from making the same mistake.
This isn’t the first time has learned a financial lesson in their games -- the omnipresence of loot boxes in the early builds of Star Wars Battlefront II -- along with its painfully-poorly-received response to complaints -- led to poor sales that prompted DICE to fix the game and make it worth players' time.
Unfortunately, EA's infamous 'surprise mechanics' defense shows that they aren't getting rid of their loot box strategy any time soon -- similarly, there's a good chance that even if Activision learns a lesson from this fiasco, the lesson probably won't be "don't do that," but rather "take another approach to doing that."