"Call of Duty: Modern Warfare" will not have the much-maligned "loot box" mechanic at launch and will instead introduce a Fortnite-inspired "battle pass" system that will debut after the game's October 25 release date.
Game publisher Activision made the announcement in a blog posted Thursday afternoon.
Based on pre-order pricing, the base game will retail for at least $60 (R889). "Fortnite", on the other hand, has been free and sells $10(R148) passes every few months, with the opportunity to earn back enough in-game currency to purchase the next season's pass without adding additional funds.
"Call of Duty"'s battle pass also appears to give players the opportunity to earn the money back in in-game currency, called COD Points, but it is not known whether it will cover the full cost of the following season's pass.
Asked for specifics by The Washington Post, an Activision spokesman replied: "As we said, we are introducing a new battle pass system. We don't have anything else to share at this time."
Unlike the battle royale-only free mode of Fortnite, Modern Warfare will feature several multiplayer modes out of the box, in addition to the highly-anticipated return of a single-player story.
"All functional content that has an impact on game balance, such as base weapons and attachments, can be unlocked simply by playing the game," according to a statement from Activision.
The battle pass would work similar to "Fortnite"'s, giving players a preview of the free rewards and a "premium" stream that would become available after players ante up extra money. The exact date of when the battle pass mechanic will be introduced is not yet known.
"It's important to us that everyone who is playing Modern Warfare has the chance to work their way through the new game and unlock all the rewards that are waiting for you," Activision said, adding the battle pass would launch "later this year."
The game will also remove a la carte downloadable maps and "season passes" that tend to separate the player base between those who buy the additional content and people who don't. Rather, post-launch multiplayer maps and modes will be free for all players and will be released for all platforms, as the series enables crossplay for the first time. The exception will be a mode called "Spec Ops Survival Mode" that will be available for one year exclusively to PlayStation users.
The battle pass content and in-game store would also feature "cosmetic" items that don't give players any game advantages.
The immediate response on the r/modernwarfare Reddit community seems as if some are pleased, if cautiously optimistic and skeptical.
"I like this route more," said Reddit user wrote. "It's a little odd since it's not free-to-play, but it's a nice compromise. I'd much rather throw 10 bucks at the game every few months than take my chances with random boxes."
Notably, the publisher and developer have made similar statements to past games, only to renege on it and introduce "pay-to-win" features, which caused significant outrage.
Loot boxes were added to "Call of Duty Black Ops 4" weeks after it was released.
In a "Grand Heist" update, Activision quietly added the mechanic in without promoting it at all.
The company promised that new characters would not be locked behind a paywall, until they were. New weapons, many of which provided a significant advantage to players, were similarly available only in loot crates called reserves, unlockable only by chance.
Lead designer David Vanderhaar defended his broken promise in a Reddit post earlier this year, saying "I can tell you what we have done and what we plan on doing, but things change that I can not predict or I didn't know about. Doubly true with the business side of things which have little insight into and even less control over."
Players of Modern Warfare's beta noticed the phrase "Supply Drop," which they interpreted as loot boxes as that's been the series euphemism for the hated, but otherwise financially successful, money making tactic for studios.
Joel Emslie, Infinity Ward's studio art director, posted on Reddit calling the rumors "misinformed and incorrect info," before promising the studio isn't working on any loot box mechanic. The top reply to the post simply states, "Please let this be true for the entire life cycle of the game."