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Call of Duty: Black Ops DLC -- When To Expect It

JGaskill
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Posted November 9, 2010 - By Jake Gaskill









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Call of Duty Downloadable Content: A History

Call of Duty fans love them some downloadable content. Over 20 million map packs have been sold to date, and with prices ranging from $5 to $15, we’re talking serious coinage. By which we don't just mean hundreds of millions of dollars, especially since Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 alone passed the $1 billion mark just a few months after it launched last November.

With a fair portion of gamers voicing their frustration over the price of the various batches of DLC that have been released over the years, players keep buying them, and by all indications, they’ll continue to buy them as long as Treyarch, and, eventually, Sledgehammer Games, keeps churning them out. But is that a bad thing when it extends the life of your game?

Today, Treyarch’s decade-hopping Call of Duty: Black Ops hits shelves, and as is customary these days, CoD fans are not only looking forward to getting their hands on the content included in the retail box, but they’ll also looking beyond to what lies in store in terms of potential DLC. There are a few interesting factors at play with Black Ops’ add-on packs, like Xbox 360 timed exclusivity, Raven Software’s involvement, and whether Treyarch will stick to maps or try something totally new.

But before we jump into what players can expect from Black Ops’ DLC, it might be helpful to look back at how additional content has been handled with previous Call of Duty games. 

The first CoD DLC was actually the free Bonus Map Pack for Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty 2, which came with two maps – Vossenack, Germany and Wallendar, Germany. IW followed this up with the Skirmish Map Pack (400 Microsoft Points), and that included two maps as well: Kalach, Russia and Beaumont-Hague, France. The final DLC for COD 2 was the Invasion Map Pack (800 MSP), which introduced five new maps – three based on towns in France, an Egyptian desert setting, and a Russian harbor.

Treyarch carried on the DLC torch in Call of Duty 3, starting with the Champs bonus map add-on. This was then followed up by the Valor Map Pack (originally 800 Microsoft Points, now 400 MSP), which included five maps: “Crossing,” “Ironclad,” “La Bourgade,” “Stalag 23,” and “Wildwood." The Bravo Map Pack (originally 800 Microsoft Points, now 400 MSP) came next, adding five more maps to the mix: “Gare Central,” “Marseilles,” “Aller Haut,” “Seine River,” and “Rimling."

Call of Duty Downloadable Content: A History

Infinity Ward’s seminal Call of Duty 4:  Modern Warfare only received one piece of add-on content in the form of the Variety Map Pack (800 MSP), which included four maps: "Killhouse", "Creek", "Chinatown", and "Broadcast.” The pack set the record for the fastest selling piece of DLC on Xbox Live after it was downloaded 1 million times in its first nine days of availability.

As PS3 users are fully aware, the Variety pack hit Xbox Live a couple weeks before it landed on PlayStation Network. This release schedule wasn’t an official policy at the time, but that changed this past E3 when Activision announced that all Call of Duty DLC released through 2012 would be timed exclusives on the 360. It isn’t clear how long the maps will be exclusively available on 360, but it will most likely be a month since that’s been the recent pattern.

Call of Duty Downloadable Content: A History

With CoD: World at War, Treyarch proved it was more than capable of handling the CoD reigns while IW moved on to work on Modern Warfare 2. Not only did the game introduce a wildly popular zombie mode, but it was also supported well after release with the free Makin Day map download, and three batches of DLC.

Map Pack 1 (800 MSP) included four new maps -- “Nightfire,” "Knee Deep," “Station,” and “Verrückt” (Zombie Asylum) -- as well as new weapons, Perks-a-Cola machines and electroshock defenses. Map Pack 2 (800 MSP) also introduced four maps -- “Banzai,” “Corrosion,” “Sub Pens,” and “Shi No Numa” (Zombie Swamp) -- featuring Perk machines, the Wunderwaffe DG-2, Achievements, and flaming Hell Hounds. Four more maps, teleporters, and weapon upgrades came along in the Map Pack 3 (800 MSP), and all of the packs were then made available in the Map Pack Bundle (2000 MSP).

Modern Warfare 2 Resurgence Map Pack Screens Go Oscar Mike

Xbox 360 owners once again enjoyed a month or so of exclusivity with the two pieces of extra content for Modern Warfare 2. The first was the Stimulus Package (1200 MSP), and it introduced “Bailout," "Storm," and "Salvage," plus "Crash" and "Overgrown" from Modern Warfare. The second was the Resurgence Pack (1200 MSP), which included the “Carnival,” “Fuel,” and “Trailer Park” maps, plus the CoD4 maps “Strike” and “Vacant.”

For Black Ops, Treyarch handed over DLC development duties to Singularity developer Raven Software. We don’t know anything about what their downloadable content will include, or how many batches there will be. An image popped up online (via Geek Fill) recently that showed three “Content Packages” being tested, but that number, or the image, have yet to be confirmed. What’s most interesting is why Raven was brought on board. If Treyarch just planned to release maps, it doesn’t seem like they would need the help of an entirely separate studio. Then again, this is exactly what happened with EA’s Medal of Honor; Danger Close Studios developed the single-player while DICE developed the multiplayer.

Call of Duty Downloadable Content: A History

If I had to guess though, and assuming Raven is still handling the DLC (We reached out to Raven for an update, but have yet to hear back at the time of publication.), I’d say that since the game is basically a patchwork of different time periods and wars, we’re going to see some story-based, single-player/co-op DLC in addition to new multiplayer maps once the DLC starts rolling out. There’s also the issue of whether the four World at War maps included in the Hardened and Prestige editions of Black Ops will be made available sometime down the line as DLC for folks who picked up the standard edition. Chances are they will, but who knows.

As for when the first batch of Black Ops DLC will hit Xbox Live Marketplace? Well, that’s anyone’s guess as well. The Resurgence Pack for MW2 came out four months after the game was released, as did the first map pack for World at War. If Treyarch follows suit, Black Ops players should expect to see DLC sometime around March 2011. You’ll still be playing the game then, right?

Should the need arise, feel free to E-Mail me your tips, suggestions, and/or personal philosophies, or follow me on Twitter.

Call of Duty: Black Ops DLC -- When To Expect It
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