One question has haunted game design for ages, and that is, “how do we get new gamers to play shooters?” It’s easy to get a hardcore gamer to play. They already know gaming inside and out. But new gamers are intimidated. New gamers keep dying in only a couple seconds. New gamers put games down when they can’t immediately hang with the pros. So how do we entice new gamers to keep playing and eventually make that jump to the hardcore?
The key here is in barriers to entry. Barriers to entry seem like an easy concept to understand. It’s this thing that you have to overcome before you really start playing the game. On the surface, this looks like simple things, like the control scheme and understanding the point of the game. But on a deeper level, barriers to entry become much more complex.
Let’s take a look at killstreaks. Any Call of Duty player would tell you that killstreaks are a central part of the game. What killstreak reward you get can make the difference between a close match and total domination. Even simple killstreaks like UAVs can turn the tide of a match.
But most players simply aren’t good enough to get killstreaks. Yes, there are plenty of very good players that do get killstreaks regularly, but remember that killstreaks require… well, streaks of kills. For every one person who is on a killstreak, other players have to actively NOT be on a killstreak. In fact, for every kill you get while building up to a killstreak reward, there is another player who has lost their killstreak. This means that, by definition, only a very small percentage of players will regularly get killstreaks, while the rest are fodder
Activision has tried to fix this with scorestreaks in the past, allowing players to do things like run to control points instead of actively engaging the enemy. But even this didn’t really elevate newbies up to the level of the hardcore. The entire kllstreak system was locked off to them by a barrier of entry, and that barrier was becoming one of the top 10-20 percentile in the game. It’s not an easy barrier to surpass.
Thus, Black Ops III is adopting a new system, which some have called “shooters for dummies.” The system is tied to what sort of specialist you play as. You get something which is a lot like a killstreak, but its based on a timer. The timer doesn’t reset when you die, but it can be reduced quicker by killing enemies and doing well. This is a reward that everyone gets to use, no matter what skill level they are at. A lot better than the basic killstreaks.
But killstreaks are still in the game, and this is where the genius comes in. Because this new special power is accessed by anyone, it gives even newbies short bursts of power where its hard for them to die and easy for them to rack up kills that add up to, guess what, killstreaks! Thus, this one system circumvents the barrier of entry that was in place in Call of Duty for ages.
What do you think. Will Black Ops III invite new gamers into the Call of Duty fold? Let us know in the comments.