David Vonderhaar responds to Black Ops 4 loot box criticism
"Things change that I cannot predict or I didn't know about. Doubly true with the business side of things."
As is often the case with loot boxes, the Grand Heist update for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has attracted a lot of heat after introducing what they call 'Cases' into the game, essentially serving the same purpose as loot boxes.
As explained in Treyarch's overview of the update, "cases containing Blackjack Reserves can be earned by playing Multiplayer or Blackout, or they can be acquired in the Black Market," with Blackjack Reserves being items like Blackout characters. Cosmetic items in-game, basically.
Immediately after this news arrived, Reddit user lagmademedoit and others pointed out that Studio Design Director David Vonderhaar had said in an interview with Game Informer prior to release that characters would be unlocked by doing missions, and now Vonderhaar himself has responded to this.
"At the time this interview was conducted, which was previous to shipping the game, that's precisely and exactly how it worked. If I went back in time and re-did this interview, I'd have to answer it the same way I did then," he said, before adding that other things changed along the way too. For example, Specialists can now be unlocked for anyone without having to quest, and new characters have been added for Season Pass holders.
"Those two things were not exactly in the design plans at the time. It's a chicken and egg problem. I can tell you what we have done and what we plan on doing, but things change that I can not predict or I didn't know about. Doubly true with the business side of things which have little insight into and even less control over."
This no doubt points to the difference between what Treyarch wants and what Activision wants, as the publisher is currently restructuring to boost profits. The company had fallen below expectations financially, after all, despite financial results that were the "best in our history", according to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick.
Vonderhaar also says that he has considered not giving interviews recently because of the situation, and explains that this is the dilemma that he faces.
"I answer the questions as best I can with the information I have at the time I am asked. If time passes and things have since changed... you could accuse me of not being clairvoyant, but a liar is someone who is purposefully trying to deceive you. That's just not the case," he concludes.
The Grand Heist update released on February 19 for PS4, while landing at a later date for PC and Xbox.