Call of Duty is getting an official boardgame (opens in new tab) that’s set to come out in 2024, following a Kickstarter campaign that will get underway later this year.
The Call of Duty boardgame will bring “the acclaimed Call of Duty experience to tabletops,” the press blurb promises. “Players will become elite Operators and enter battle with signature weapons and unique combat skills. With an exciting array of iconic maps, a variety of intense game modes, and team-based objectives, players will blow away enemies with the game’s intuitive action system.”
I’m not sure how a boardgame will capture the thrill of a 360 no-scope or whatever it is that gets your blood pumping. But what’s really baffling about the whole thing (to me, anyway) is the need to run it through Kickstarter. Call of Duty is the most valuable videogame series of all time, to the point that its mere existence threatens to kibosh (opens in new tab) Microsoft’s proposed $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. It’s a veritable convoy of money trucks. Yet somehow it needs a crowdfunding campaign?
The Call of Duty boardgame is being developed by tabletop gaming company Arcane Wonders, and that’s why the Kickstarter campaign is necessary, company president Robert Geistlinger told Polygon (opens in new tab).
“It’s fairly common for boardgames to crowdfund, and of course this is an officially licensed game being produced by us here at Arcane Wonders,” Geistlinger said. “The Activision team has been a wonderful partner in allowing us to create and play in their world, but at the end of the day, this is our experience that we’re bringing to gamers, and that team has kindly allowed us to use whatever tools and platforms we feel are necessary to make the best version of our game for their fans.”
I have no idea what the terms of the deal are, but we’re definitely not talking about a non-commercial license like those sometimes used for fan-made projects (opens in new tab). As an official Call of Duty product I have to assume that Activision’s involvement runs deeper than just a quick “yeah, go ahead” from Bobby Kotick, and that’s why the Kickstarter connection isn’t just bewildering, it’s frustrating. Kickstarter opened the door to mainstream success for all kinds of small studios and unknown projects, and as someone who backed old projects from inXile (opens in new tab), Obsidian (opens in new tab), Larian (opens in new tab), Crate Entertainment (opens in new tab), Nightdive (opens in new tab), and others, it really rubs me the wrong way seeing that system turned into a marketing machine for zillion-dollar corporate behemoths.
The Modern Warfare 2 reboot, in case you’d forgotten, earned more than $800 million (opens in new tab) in one single weekend in November 2022. Activision couldn’t carve off a microscopically thin slice of that to support this boardgame?
But as Geistlinger said, this is how things are done these days: Other big videogame-to-boardgame Kickstarters in recent years include Monster Hunter World (opens in new tab), Wolfenstein (opens in new tab), and Cyberpunk 2077 (opens in new tab). All of those campaigns were massively successful, and the Call of Duty boardgame no doubt will be as well.