Call of Duty’s answer to Fortnite launches with in-game digital currency
Video game publisher Activision this week launched perhaps the biggest Fortnite challenger to date: “Call of Duty: Warzone,” a free-to-play version of its best-selling first-person shooter. And, just like Fortnite, this large-scale battle royale shooter game has its own virtual in-game currency system.
In Call of Duty: Warzone, up to 150 players duke it out on a massive battlefield. It varies from Activision’s previous attempt at a Fortnite killer—Blackout battle royale mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4—in one key respect: you don’t need to buy a full-priced game to play it. Warzone is playable on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One without spending a cent on gameplay.
But like Fortnite, Warzone has its own in-game currency system called Call of Duty Points, or COD Points. These are the real money-makers.
Purchased with real money, COD Points can be used to buy a season ticket that unlocks premium items, a ticket that skips in-game challenges, and optional cosmetic items and character skins.
Fortnite’s free-to-play system has netted its developer, Epic Games, billions of dollars to date, having enticed players to spend real money on in-game V-Bucks to purchase unique player and weapon skins, character dances (emotes), and other cosmetic items.
The COD Points system—also used in the full-priced Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, released last fall—suggests Activision has similar ambitions.
Granted, V-Bucks and COD Points aren’t cryptocurrency—and despite some confusion, they do not need to be accounted for on your United States tax return. Following unclear guidance from the IRS, the agency issued a revised statement in February noting, “Transacting in virtual currencies as part of a game that do not leave the game environment (virtual currencies that are not convertible) would not require a taxpayer to indicate this on their tax return.”
Given the sustained popularity of the franchise, Call of Duty: Warzone may be the game to take some of the shine off of Fortnite’s success. Fortnite hasn’t officially embraced blockchain in any way, yet the immensely popular game has crossed paths with it in a few ways.
For example, you can bet on Fortnite esports matches with crypto, plus you can buy V-Bucks bundles with various coins—and Epic Games has shown an interest in blockchain technology. Additionally, there’s interest from the crypto world in implementing Bitcoin microtransactions into games, as startup Zebedee is pursuing with its recently-released SDK and dashboard.
We’ll keep an eye out to see if Call of Duty: Warzone and crypto have any dalliances in the coming months.