Today’s big rumour is Black Ops 4 will be this year’s Call of Duty game (OK, so now there’s a much bigger story). This coming from games industry tipster and journalist Marcus Sellars. No source is cited, unsurprisingly, but it does look to be the most likely outcome nonetheless. More surprising is that Sellars says the game is also coming to Switch.
Call of Duty has run on a three-studio rotation for some years now and after Infinite Warfare from Infinity Ward and WWII from Sledgehammer, it’s Treyarch’s turn to step up.
Treyarch’s last two games were Black Ops II and Black Ops III. And the Black Ops sub-brand remains the best-selling of the franchise. So it’s hardly a mad leap of faith to plonk for Black Ops IV as the next title from the developer.
While WWII will be a tough act to follow, the decision to make Black Ops 4 would have been taken three years ago. However, Sellars says that the series will be changing direction from its recent near-future exploits and be a ‘boots on the ground’ experience with a ‘modern’ setting.
That could easily allow for a rebranding of the game into a different name, to try and capitalise on the uplift in sales that the ‘fresher feeling’ WWII title brought to the series. And, with all respect to the excellent WWII, how fatigued does a franchise have to be for a World War 2 game to be considered a breath of fresh air.
We think a modern setting is the way to go, but we’d prefer a new name, or a reboot of the Black Ops brand rather than a fourth, numbered installment. Either way, the safe money is Black Ops on the box in some respect. And though that must have looked like a safe bet to Activision three years back, the relative failures and successes of IW and WWII may see Activision doubting itself.
More tantalising for the market is the possibility of a Switch version of the game. However, the console is hugely underpowered compared to even the standard Xbox One and PS4. So some compromises will be required to get it working.
In the past Activision released multiplayer-only versions of Call of Duty for legacy consoles, allowing it to boost sales considerably, the last title to do so was, of course, Black Ops III in 2015. A Switch version could really help with the titles sales, though a multiplayer-only release wouldn’t cut it on such a new console.
Nintendo really needs to build third-party support this year, as there’s nothing obviously huge on the slate for this Christmas so far – presuming Metroid Prime 4 isn’t coming until 2019. And Call of Duty wouldn’t just be a massive seller, it would also act as a rallying call to other publishers.
Bar the miraculous appearance of Red Dead Redemption, or even GTA V, on Nintendo’s console, Call of Duty on Switch is the best Christmas present that retailers or Nintendo could get.