Photo: Activision

There’s been a new, pretty encouraging trend in many shooters as of late. Games like Overwatch and Titanfall 2 have sworn off the tradition of map packs, promising players that all future maps will be free for all players. It’s a great move because it allows their playerbases to remain a cohesive whole, rather than being split by what maps people do or don’t own.

You might think that with how many big games are starting to go down this path, that perhaps some of the more major shooters are going to follow in their footsteps. But for one series at least, that does not seem likely at all.

Map packs have been a staple of Call of Duty for ages now, but I don’t think people really understand just how key they are to the continued monetization of that series. Case in point, Sony just released a list of its “top everything” for PlayStation in 2016, including the top downloaded add-ons on PS4:

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops III – Awakening
  • Destiny: Rise of Iron
  • The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited – ESO Plus
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops III Season Pass
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops III – Eclipse
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops III – Descent
  • Black Ops III – The Giant Zombies Map
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops III – Salvation
  • Rocket League – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Car Pack
  • STAR WARS Battlefront Season Pass
  • Not sure if I actually have to point out the trend here. Four of the top ten are individual COD map packs. One is Zombies content. One is the season pass for the game itself. Call of Duty may be “on the decline,” but as a digital revenue money printing machine, it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. Individual map packs are sold anywhere between $10-15 each depending where you get them. All in all, digital content can add up to nearly doubling the cost of the base game, and that’s before new microtransaction systems like loot crates are taken into consideration.

    While everyone is always begging Activision to go in a different direction and mix things up with the Call of Duty release schedule/format, a list like this shows there’s no reason to. Yes, next year’s chart might look different, as Infinite Warfare has sold less than Black Ops 3, but it’s still probably going to be the best-selling game of the year, and I would not be surprised if next year’s list looked an awful lot like this too.

    Once again, it’s far too early to be predicting the demise of Call of Duty or its traditional monetization models like map packs. The series has been so big for so long, even with declines it’s still head and shoulders above everything else. While it’s great that other shooters are getting on the free map train, do not expect Call of Duty to do the same any time this decade, at the very least, I would imagine.

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