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Thursday, June 20, 2024

This year, Call of Duty’s secret weapon is Steam

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Call of Duty is selling big on PC this year. Activision said in a Q3 financial report published today that Modern Warfare 2 has sold “approximately twice the level of recent strong titles in the series.” That’s a weirdly non-specific qualifier, though it’s in contribution to what has become the fastest Call of Duty in history to reach $1 billion in sales.

What changed on PC this year? Surely some of the increase can be attributed to enthusiasm around the Modern Warfare series, but the true culprit is Steam.

Modern Warfare 2 is the first Call of Duty to launch on Steam in five years. Starting with Black Ops 4 in 2018, the last four Calls of Duty (including Warzone) have only existed in the Battle.net client on PC. Thankfully, Modern Warfare 2 isn’t one of those “launches another launcher” deals either: hitting play on Steam gets right into the game.

Activision has decided to share the wealth with Valve once again, and it’s apparently paying off. Modern Warfare 2 has been at the top of Steam’s top seller list since launch, and it’s also been a consistent top-fiver of Steam’s most-played list with a daily peak of around 200,000 players. That’s not a total tally of people logging onto the game, mind you, just a peak concurrent number.

Possibly a more impressive figure is Modern Warfare 2 playtime. Activision says MW2 hit “new franchise engagement records for a premium Call of Duty release, with hours played in the first 10 days more than 40% above the prior franchise record.”

That’s a lot of team deathmatch. Longer sessions could be explained by all sorts of things, but I know what’s kept me playing longer than before: Modern Warfare 2’s more engaging, but often infuriating, progression systems. It’s neat that you’re forced to use a wider variety of guns to unlock everything you want, but those confusing menus sure do make it hard to know what you’re chasing.

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