Is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Worth the $70 Price Tag? A Deep Dive into Why This Major Release Is So Expensive

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 made a huge splash last month as the fastest selling entry in the storied first-person shooter franchise, ringing up over $800 million in revenue in just three days.

But MW2 also raised eyebrows for its premium $70 launch pricing across all platforms – $10 above the standard cost of a typical new release.

For many gamers, this begs the question: Why exactly is Modern Warfare 2 so expensive, and does it deliver enough value to justify the inflated price tag?

Below I‘ll thoroughly analyze the factors behind MW2‘s premium pricing, and whether it lives up to its $70 cost based on content, quality, comparisons and real-world value.

Big Budgets Require Big Revenue

Modern Warfare 2‘s eye-watering $70 price primarily comes down to sheer production scale and runaway development costs. Industry analysts estimate MW2 cost somewhere between $200 to $250 million to make, placing it among the most expensive games ever produced.

To put that in perspective, blockbuster movies like Avengers: Endgame or Pirates of the Caribbean had comparable budgets around $300 million. This is the sheer scale of investment needed for AAA titles today:

Game Estimated Development Budget
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 $250 million
Grand Theft Auto V $265 million
Star Citizen $500+ million (and counting)

With soaring costs, Activision and other major publishers feel pricing at $70 is needed just to have a chance at profitability after years of rising budgets for development, technology, marketing and more.

Friend, as a fellow gamer I fully understand nothing feels worse than overpaying for an experience. But looking at how much high-end games cost to make now, I can see why $70 has become the new normal.

No Lower-Priced Last-Gen Version

Typically when a new CoD launches, past-gen console versions are sold for $60 while current-gen costs $70. But Activision broke the mold by only offering Modern Warfare 2 as a next-gen exclusive at $70 minimum.

With no last-gen edition to offer budget conscious gamers, this effectively raised the pricing floor across the board. EA took similar criticism for only launching Battlefield 2042 on current-gen systems at $70, leaving past-gen players out.

To me this signals that going forward, publishers want to push newer platforms by leaving older consoles behind. But it certainly stings players still on PS4/Xbox One now forced to pay more or upgrade.

Packed with Cutting-Edge Presentation

While no one likes price hikes, MW2 does provide visuals and a level of immersion lightyears beyond last generation to help justify the premium cost.

As Digital Foundry noted, it‘s "an utter tour de force" packing ray tracing, photogrammetry, seamless animations and advanced facial capture that simply overwhelms even high-end PCs. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X finally allow Call of Duty to deliver a true next-gen experience.

Playing through the bombastic campaign, it‘s clear no expense was spared on lavish production values like shooting across rooftops in Amsterdam or rappelling down skyscrapers. This feels like a big step up that demands a more powerful machine.

MW2‘s campaign spared no expense on Hollywood-level production (via NME)

Jam-Packed With Content and Replayability

Of course graphics alone don‘t make a great game. The core gameplay also matters. Thankfully, MW2 delivers plenty of modes and replayability to occupy players for dozens if not hundreds of hours:

  • 5-10 hour story campaign with globe-trotting missions
  • Multiplayer with over 20 maps, 50+ weapons, and staple modes like Team Deathmatch, Domination and more
  • Spec Ops co-op missions supporting up to 4 players
  • Raids – Longer narrative co-op for skilled teams
  • DMZ extraction mode designed for long-term play

Having sunk around 50 hours in so far, I‘m impressed by the breadth and depth of content available at launch. This feels packed with value compared to shorter experiences like God of War Ragnarok also launching at $70.

Sales Show Fans Consider It Worth the Cost

Despite some complaints about pricing, consumers voted with their wallets. MW2 went on to sell over $1 billion worth in its first 10 days, outpacing every previous Call of Duty, and becoming the best-selling game of 2022 in the US.

Obviously fans feel MW2 provides adequate value to justify paying $70. Pre-orders were also extremely high.

As someone who has played every CoD since the original Modern Warfare in 2007, I can say MW2 lives up to the hype as a return to form for the franchise. The high-energy combat still feels fantastic after all these years.

How Pricing Compares to Other Flagship Shooter Franchises

It‘s also key to note MW2 is not alone in adopting $70 for current-gen. Major franchises like Battlefield, Halo and more have also made it the new standard:

Game Launch Price
Call of Duty: MW2 $70
Battlefield 2042 $70
Halo Infinite (Campaign) $70

This indicates an industry-wide push rather than an Activision anomaly. For better or worse, $70 seems to be the new normal pricing for AAA shooter experiences based on these tentpole releases.

Used Copies and Discounts Will Emerge

For budget-focused buyers, take heart knowing MW2‘s price should come down with time. Used physical copies are already circulating for around $55.

Based on past Call of Duty discounts, I expect the digital price could drop to around $40-$50 during holiday sales in November/December.

So while $70 stings upfront, you can nab it for a more reasonable price if you wait a few months. For non-hardcore fans, I‘d advise waiting for a discount unless money is no object.

High Pricing Does Limit Mainstream Accessibility

The downside of $70 pricing is it does limit MW2‘s mainstream accessibility and affordability.

As Twitter user @JeffGrubb noted, gaming is unique in charging higher premiums upfront vs. other media:

No TV show, album, or movie has asked me to pay $70 to experience it. Gaming is hostile to mainstream audiences.

I sympathize with players on a budget who get priced out of experiencing MW2 right away. Wider adoption relies partly on affordability. A $40-$50 option could potentially sell to millions more people based on demand elasticity.

Activision risks leaving money on the table if they price out too much of the audience. For a multiplayer-focused game like Call of Duty, network effects and reach are critical for sustained success.

Is MW2 Worth $70? It Offers Strong Value Despite Controversy

Based on everything we‘ve covered, is MW2 worth paying $70 for?

  • For hardcore Call of Duty fans,buying MW2 day one ensures you can dive in with the massive early player base and not miss the excitement. If you play Call of Duty religiously each year, this is practically a must-buy.

  • For more casual shooter fans on a budget, waiting 3-6 months for a discount could be the ideal move. You‘ll eventually get MW2 at almost half price.

Given the campaign, multiplayer depth and overall polish, I believe MW2 generally delivers a premium experience on par with its $70 asking price for those who can afford it. The production values, content quality and gameplay live up to the Modern Warfare name based on critical reception.

But the lack of pricing options does a disservice to budget-conscious gamers. Offering a $60 last-gen version or cheaper base edition could broaden the audience. Still, MW2 does largely justify its next-gen pricing based on the sheer scale and visual leap over previous installments.

In closing, sticker shock is understandable given the new $70 ceiling. But based on what‘s offered, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 sets a new bar for the series on current generation consoles. For fans willing and able to pay a premium, itSatisfies as one of the most complete, polished entries yet. But budget buyers should wait for sales or look into cheaper used copies to enjoy this blockbuster experience.

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