Did Caldera Kill Warzone?
In 2020, Call of Duty: Warzone established itself as the most popular battle royale title to ever exist. It became a breeding ground for talent, content, friendships, and rivalries. There was something special about Verdansk and the nature of landing that first, second, and third dub – and picking up many more beyond that. However, at the tail end of 2021, a new map surfaced, and since then, the landscape has darkened, and players have started dropping like flies. Since Raven Software introduced Caldera, Warzone has been under threat.
What was it about Caldera that brought so much misfortune to the doors of Call of Duty: Warzone? Why did the introduction of the Caldera Warzone map bring about such a downfall to a game played by hundreds of millions of people?
Let’s find out.
Did Warzone Ever Need To Change?
At one point, the beautifully simple formula of Verdansk and Rebirth Island was a winning one. It gave players both an expansive, open environment, and a close-quarters, rapid-paced game mode to enjoy. It might not have been obvious at first, but Warzone players were in love with Verdansk – both the old and the ‘new’ model. It was a place they’d spent countless hours exploring while under lockdown, using it as a meeting ground between friends, families, and in some cases, enemies.
In December of 2021, Raven Software introduced Caldera, an all-new Warzone experience on a completely different map. This tropical paradise was penned as a revolutionary change for the insanely popular battle royale platform. However, it was seen as something of a ‘who asked’ moment for many of Warzone’s players. In general, the announcement wasn’t met with jubilation, but rather with a sour taste in the mouth at the thought of having the beloved Verdansk stripped out from underneath us.
Sadly, the Caldera launch was something of a trainwreck, with the map boasting more bugs than ever before. It was a glitchy and unstable landscape, forcing players into game modes they didn’t necessarily want, learning and exploring a map while suffering terribly at the hands of technical difficulties. It got so bad that some of the best Call of Duty streamers in the world started to abandon the platform:
Many were suggesting that with the introduction of Caldera, Warzone was destined to fail. In another tweet, Aydan, one of the greatest Warzone players around, explained: “Not a fan of the Caldera map so far. I feel like I’m just running up hills and rocks and just die to people sitting on top of them every single death.”
So Begins The Downfall
At the start of 2022, Activision published financial information that revealed damning statistics related to Call of Duty: Warzone. Between March 2021 and March 2022, Activision (including Call of Duty, of course) reported a loss of more than 50 million players. These were captured as ‘monthly active users’, meaning that within a year, Activision bid farewell to more than a third of its userbase.
There are many reasons behind this fact, and not all of them are Activision’s fault. For instance, now that the general lockdown imposed upon the world is over, more players have returned to work and school. Furthermore, the passage of time dictates that people will simply get bored and move on to another game. It’s the nature of the industry, and for some people, one game is just a stopgap until something else is released.
However, there can be no denying the fact that with Caldera, Warzone became something of a ghost town. We’ve seen numerous outcries regarding the integration of SBMM in Call of Duty: Warzone, which has toughened up since Caldera was introduced. There are many regular players constantly up in arms over the fact that Warzone lacks a ranked mode, which is a mode found in competing titles such as Apex Legends.
With SBMM, Raven Software has effectively removed the casual aspect of the game, forcing every player to sweat for each individual victory. This is just one area that has directly impacted the number of players currently in Warzone, and it worsened following the introduction of Caldera.
Creators Jumping Ship
When the Caldera Warzone map was brought into play, it pushed many creators away from the platform. However, there was an exodus taking place long before the arrival of Caldera, with many creators abandoning Warzone because of a string of issues. Once upon a time (and today, to a lesser extent), Call of Duty: Warzone was plagued by hackers and cheaters. There were several game-breaking exploits that kept resurfacing, as well as blunders with skins and weapons caused by Raven Software directly.
It was a tough time for a creator trying to stay connected to the game and ultimately enjoy it, and it showed.
Live on stream, world-famous streamer, Dr Disrespect, uninstalled Call of Duty: Warzone in favour of other, competing titles. At the end of 2021, NICKMERCS, arguably one of the highest-paid streamers in the world, completely disappeared from Warzone, instead opting to spend his time streaming and enjoying Apex Legends. For a brief time, TimTheTatman left Warzone, as did Cloakzy, and CouRage.
Losing The Social Scene
According to platforms like TwitchTracker, the viewership for Call of Duty: Warzone has been on a downward trend since May 2021. In December 2021, when Raven Software debuted Caldera, Warzone experienced a brief and tiny respite, but any growth was lost soon after. Currently, Call of Duty: Warzone faces an all-time low in terms of viewership and interactions on social media. There are many claiming that the content creation side of Warzone had stagnated and run dry.
Last year, the World Series of Warzone saw its inaugural season, and it offered Warzone fans a legitimate esports scene to tune into. However, that too was short-lived, and once the tournament had come to a close, viewership plummeted once again. Of course, it doesn’t help that several top-tier creators left Twitch in favour of YouTube – this further disrupts the flow of growth within Warzone, particularly on Twitch.
With that in mind, even a cursory glance at YouTube shows a string of creators re-using the same content over and over again. There’s a veritable plague of ‘best loadout’ videos to digest, with each creator often bringing to light the same weapon builds over and over again.
Is Warzone Dying in 2022?
Honestly, while the introduction of the Caldera Warzone map was a massive failure, we can’t see Warzone dying in 2022. However, that isn’t because some miracle will take place – it’s because Warzone 2 is set to debut in 2022, and it has been developed by Infinity Ward.
This is the developer behind Modern Warfare, which in 2019 became the highest-selling Call of Duty game in history. In 2022, we’ll see Modern Warfare 2 launch, and alongside it will be a fresh Warzone experience. It’s almost certain that we’ll transition to a new map, leaving behind the nightmare of Caldera Warzone. As always, viewership figures will skyrocket, with creators pouring in to scalp both Modern Warfare 2 and Warzone 2 for every ounce of content possible.
It’ll be a boom for Call of Duty, and a much-needed revival for Warzone in general.
It’s no big secret that since Caldera dropped, Warzone has been slipping further down the charts. While Caldera might not have directly killed Warzone, it certainly didn’t help the situation. Let’s hope that a brand new map, a fresh experience, and a new developer behind Warzone will shake things up and bring the landscape back to life.