Call of Duty is a sprawling machine with complex moving parts spread out across multiple games and studios, and it appears to currently be overheating, especially on consoles. For days now players have been complaining that 2019’s Modern Warfare is all but broken, while even Warzone players are facing new issues after the launch of the game’s big new Caldera map, which came just as many QA testers at Activision went on strike following layoff announcements.
It’s always hard to tell just how widespread bugs are, but there’s no shortage of people complaining about running into problems online. One of the biggest culprits appears to be an endless loop in which several Call of Duty games flicker between the home menu and a loading screen. Late last week, Twitter started filling up with players sharing footage of the problem across Modern Warfare, Vanguard, and Warzone.
“We’re working to fix an issue causing players to get caught in an update loop,” reads Activision’s support page, which says the problem is mostly affecting PS4 and Xbox One players. “In some cases, the game appears to be uninstalling and reinstalling game data.” In the meantime, Activision recommends players affected clear the cache data on their consoles.
In Modern Warfare, on the other hand, players are having trouble getting the game to install and recognize the many data packs required to keep it up-to-date. The subreddit has been full of complaints by people unable to play, either because of these installation issues, or other crashes, freezes, and bugged match queue times.
These reports come as players are in open revolt against a Warzone update introducing the nigh-unstoppable holiday killer Krampus. Players took to the comments of a recent patch announcement by Raven Software to bemoan his addition when so many other parts of the multiplayer experience are facing challenges.
“Call of Duty: #Warzone has MAJOR issues according to the overwhelming number of reports from console players,” wrote the ModernWarzone website which collected feedback from over 35,000 players. In addition to recent installation and loading problems, players on consoles also complain about increased lag and rubber-banding. These issues are on top of game-wide problems like the newly bugged melee attacks that sometimes deal no damage.
“The fact that Modern Warfare is literally unplayable and it’s on sale in time for the holidays is fucking absurd,” Call of Duty insider and leaker Tom Henderson wrote on Twitter yesterday. “Warzone Caldera is a mess on consoles too. And there’s been 0 acknowledgment from Activision and its development studios.”
This seemingly unusually buggy time for the series comes as Activision is trying to keep multiple plates spinning on the gaming front at the same time that it’s under fire for reportedly years of workplace abuse. Modern Warfare, Black Ops Cold War, and Vanguard, in addition to each being co-developed and led by different studios, also have distinct multiplayer experiences that have kept each one relevant in its own way and out of the $5 bargain bin. Add Warzone to the mix, which has crossovers with the previous games and is so popular it reportedly makes $5 million a day, and maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that the Call of Duty machine is seizing up.
One of the main lubricants for Call of Duty is quality assurance testers, dozens of whom are entering their second week of a strike after Activision announced layoffs for some of those working directly on Warzone. “The Raven QA department is essential to the day-to-day functioning of the studio as a whole,” developers at Raven wrote at the time. “Terminating the contracts of high performing testers in a time of consistent work and profit puts the health of the studio at risk.”
So far, the groups’ demands have not been met, but a strike fund sustaining the effort has already accumulated over $300,000 in funds. The labor action and new wave of issues in the games are going on as most video game studios revert to a skeleton crew to keep the servers on during the end-of-year break. That also happens to be the same time when Call of Duty gets flooded with new and returning players during the holiday season.
Activision did not immediately respond to a request by Kotaku for comment.