My First Year As a Second-Class COD Gamer

Posted on October 6, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Games, Xbox One with 27 Comments

Starting with Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, Activision has delivered game DLC to PlayStation 4 users first, leaving Xbox gamers in the lurch. I don’t mind being a second-class citizen, but this is ridiculous.

As I write this, I’m still waiting to download the Salvation DLC (downloadable content) for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. This is the fourth and final major DLC deliverable for the game, and as with previous map packs, you comes as part of the $60 Season Pass, or as a standalone $15 purchase. It’s supposed to be available today. It isn’t. At least not yet.

So here’s the thing.

When you think about the one year delta between the release of one Call of Duty game and the next, you can see how releasing four DLC packs—essentially multiplayer map packs with four new levels each—over the course of that year helps you extend your enjoyment of the game. That is, the game comes out in November with whatever number of multiplayer maps. And then, just as you’re getting tired of those maps, a new set of four maps arrives. This happens once a quarter.

(The COD map packs DLCs also include expansions to the Zombie experience too, by the way. But I spend most of my gaming time in multiplayer.)

That was still the case this past year. The difference, of course, is that, this time, Xbox One gamers (and Windows PC gamers, too) received each DLC drop about a month after those on PlayStation 4. Big deal, right? Sure, the DLC arrives a bit late on Xbox One, but at least it arrives.

The thing is, the timing of these delayed drops has pushed us up against the release of the next Call of Duty game. With the Salvation DLC arriving today on Xbox One—it was delivered to PS4 gamers back in early September—we literally have only four weeks to go before a new COD arrives. So I, like many other gamers, will have far less time to experience these new maps than was the case with previous games and their DLCs.

I don’t remember the exact schedule, but the first Black Ops 3 DLC didn’t arrive until early 2016. So while there is a one-year gap between game releases, Activision is really only giving itself 10 months to ship four DLCs. The whole schedule is just off.

Two other factors combined to make this even less satisfying. For starters, the DLC maps for Black Ops 3 have been of notably low quality, with some obvious exceptions. And Activision has always made it really hard to play just new maps: I can choose from special DLC playlists in multiplayer, but I can’t actually choose the game-type. (I prefer Hardline Team Deathmatch only, which is one of the more difficult versions.) So I often get stuck in games I don’t enjoy playing.

I’ve spent a good chunk of the past decade really digging into each Call of Duty game in turn. But this past year has been marred by delayed DLC, which often turns out to be of low quality. And then I can’t play the game types I want to play.


So I have a PlayStation 4, and I’m getting a PlayStation 4 Pro. And this past year, I’ve done something I’d never done before: I bought the latest Call of Duty game—and all of the DLC—on PS 4 too. You know, just to remind myself what a first class experience is like.

A couple of observations.

First, the game looks and plays no different across the two platforms. Lots has been made about how the PS4 is graphically superior, or whatever, to the Xbox One, but I have never once seen that with this particular game. That said, the next COD will look better on the PS4 Pro. That could literally trigger a major change in how I play COD over the coming year.

Second, while it is possible to switch back and forth between the Xbox One and PS4 controllers, I very much prefer the Xbox One controller layout, and find the placement of the left stick on the PS4 controller to be awkward. This might be familiarity, I know. But I’ve spent a lot of time with Black Ops 3 on PS4 this year and it works. I just prefer the Xbox One.

Finally, yes. I literally spent $240 on Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 this past year: $60 for each game (Xbox One, PS4) and $60 each for the Season Pass on each. That’s how important COD is to me.

And yes, getting DLC early—or “on time”—is in fact important if you really care about a game. I never really considered the ramifications of Microsoft’s previous arrangement with Activision when I was benefiting from it. But now that it’s been taken away, I can see more clearly that this kind of exclusivity is terrible for gaming generally. Activision is literally sending the message to an audience of 20 million that they are not as important to them as this other audience. How much more could I care about this franchise?

So, I’ve already played Salvation on PS4. I’ve seen the cute picnic map, and the awesome Old West remake of one of my favorite COD maps ever. I just wish I could have played them, and for more time, on Xbox One. You know. The video game platform I actually prefer.

Boo, Activision. Boo.


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Comments (27)

27 responses to “My First Year As a Second-Class COD Gamer”

  1. 5997

    Paul was feeling second class.  Kind of like a non-premium user?

  2. 399

    I very much prefer the Xbox One controller layout, and find the placement of the left stick on the PS4 controller to be awkward.


    Have you tried one of those CronusMax adapters? Allegedly, that should let you use the XBox's controller on the PS4.

  3. 1364

    At least with the publication of this article you now have fully justifiable reason to deduct all of the $240 you spent in the last year on Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 from your Income taxes as a business expense. :-)

  4. 6223

    If you've been playing COD (or any FPS,) without a mouse you've been a 2nd class citizen since day 1.

    Controls can make or break immersion and playability in any game and for first-person shooters the best aiming controller bar none is a mouse.

  5. 1292

    Unfortunately, you are falling for the whole point of the marketing deal in the first place. Therefore, helping the companies confirm that their shitty business practices actually work. I would have much rather seen you take the fight to the man, call them out for this B.S. (and its B.S. for all gamers not just ones of a particular brand) and bring attention to it, for the benefit for all gamers. Sigh!

  6. 6196

    Can you get COD World at War in a PS4? Been playing it constantly since it was released compatible with the XBox One - forgot how much fun that game is. Kinda blows Black Ops III away actually....

  7. 5530

    lol, I don't get it CoD fans like Paul. Why can't you give yourself some more time on the new BO3 maps and then get IW when you're done enjoying the new maps? You don't have to jump onto IW on day one, you know....I just think it's a personal choice. Why be a shill of the toxic practice of planned DLCs? Subscribing to stuff like this is what is killing the videogame market.

    I've been playing Rainbow Six: Siege which is the best damn shooter i've touched in years. But the most surprising thing about that game is Ubisoft's approach to updating the game. They released an okay-ish game last december and took a year's worth of player data to refine the game continuously over the year, adapting to changing playstyles of the community, and they also designed their new DLCs around this process. The result? One year on, the PC playerbase is over a million strong. If Ubisoft treated R6 like COD, one year on i'd be complaining like Paul here.

    To me, the choice is very clear. When I see any developer pulling an Activison (i.e. poorly planned DLCs), I don't buy the game, because I know I won't be a happy player. Even Hitman's episodic release schedule seems to be working for Square Enix. I just want planned DLCs to become a relic of the past because it's so anti-consumer.

  8. 1777

    I very much prefer the Xbox One controller layout, and find the placement of the left stick on the PS4 controller to be awkward

    I feel the complete opposite, but it's true we all get used to what we have, and when something changes, it is awkward. Kudos for recognizing it may just be due to what you're familiar with.

  9. 5539

    In reply to dfcrone: Just an interesting note on the site operation. This is a reply to dfcrone, who posted in the premium tab. I hit reply on thre premium side, and it set up the reply under the non-premium comments tab. Lets see where it posts.


  10. 1769

    If you think 1 month is bad, try waiting 1+ years. That's how bad it is on the Destiny side. Really makes you feel second class, thanks Activision. :(

  11. 5510

    I don't think that this is really a big deal. Xbox is definitely going to get the game, but just later. All in all there must not be alot of players to justify developing COD for the Xbox first. Unfortunately, not many people have the resources that Paul has to buy another console and followed his recommendation to buy the Xbox One.

    • 1294

      In reply to Bats:

      well, it might not be a big deal for you or me nowdays.  but I do remember being at Wal-Mart at midnight to buy the very first World of Warcraft game box when it first came out back in 2004.  There is always that one person that would do/pay anything to play 5 minutes before.

      One of the selling highligts of the Forza Horizon 3 Ultimate was that you could play 4 days early....  tell me I'm paying an extra $40 to get more cars, more content, but don't make me feel like I'm paying an aditional $40 just to play four days earlier...

      Here with COD it's a full month.  I can see hard core COD followers jumping ship and / or playing $240 for a game

  12. 1243

    While I always prefer Xbox, I see no shame in going back and forth between competing consoles. Maybe when I was a teenager, and we all lived and died by what game system we had.
    I do find it silly that we have to buy three different consoles to experience all the games out there. If a game is multi platform, I'll buy it for Xbox first, unless there is a reason not to (like Call of Duty). My problem is I always see a few PS exclusives I want to play, and then a handful of games on the Wii U. It all just feels like a huge money sink, not to mention my entertainment center looks like a tangled mess of consoles, wrires, controllers, etc.

  13. 1243

    Now that I actually can access a comment box, I have a note for the site tech: As a non premium member, I can not post comments on any articles where a premium emmber has already commeneted. I try clicking on the gray 'Comments' box and nothing happens. All I get is a link to sign up  for Premium.

    I am using the latest version of Firefox on Windows 8.1.


  14. 4396

    Typo - Hardline Team Deathmatch should be Hardcore (two paragraphs above "Sigh".)

    Correct, Hardcore is the only way to play.

  15. 1775

    >...wish I could have played them, and for more time

    Do the maps get taken away after a certain amount of time?

    I rarely got games at, or even near, the release date.  Call me cheap, but why pay $50+ for a game when I can wait a few months and get it for $30?  As long as I have'nt played it, it's still new to me.

  16. 2473

    Paul Come on over to the Destiny Side.. ;-)Rise of Iron