With Modern Warfare 2's first DLC map pack about to land, last night we had a chat with Infinity Ward community supremo Robert 'Fourzerotwo' Bowling.
Aside from the current situation at IW following the fallout between publisher Activision and the studio's recently-sacked former bosses, we talked about the content of the upcoming Stimulus pack, the percieved high pricing thereof, and the competition from DICE's Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Here's what he had to say.
GamesRadar: First up, can you confirm exactly what we’re going to be getting in the Stimulus Package?
Robert Bowling: The map pack includes five maps. Three of them are brand new to the series and two of them are some of our classic most-played maps from Call of Duty 4. In those five maps you have Bailout, which is one of our only American maps. It’s an American apartment complex, and it’s really great for any game-type that you play on, or any play-style. There’s Storm, which has a really cool atmosphere. It’s like an industrial park, and there’s a thundering, booming lightning storm and rain. There’s a huge warehouse and lots of interior fighting. And then there’s Salvage, which is a really simplistic, straightforward map. It’s a snowy junkyard and there’s not a lot of places to hide. It’s all about just getting out there and staying in the fight.
And then the two classic maps that we’re bringing back are Crash, which is an urban map with a crashed helicopter in the middle, which is one of the fan-favourites from the previous game, and there’s Overgrown, which is a wide, open area. A lot of overgrown bush, and a dry creek bed in the middle. A huge map, great for snipers. A very big game.
GR: Why are you just sticking with multiplayer at the moment? Spec-Ops was a massive hit, so do you have any plans to expand it?
RB: Yeah, Spec-Ops was great, but right now we’re focusing all our DLC efforts on the multiplayer, just because, you know, we looked at the numbers and we have twenty-five million unique players in Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer, and that’s an insane amount of people dedicating an insane amount of time to the game. And we just really wanted to make sure that we were focusing our efforts on getting the most content to the biggest part of our audience that’s playing every day. And that just happens to be multiplayer.
GR: So is Spec-Ops under consideration for the next DLC?
RB: I’m not sure. We’re really focusing on one pack at a time, and depending on what kind of schedule we have we’re going to look at all our options, definitely.
GR: There’s been a bit of a mini-eruption on the ‘net regarding the 1200 Point pricing of the DLC on XBLA. How do you feel about that reaction?
RB: You know players will always react to any price that’s announced, but I think from a content standpoint, anyone who is playing Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer and is dedicating a lot of hours to it is definitely going to get their money’s worth from this map pack. This adds for some players hundreds and hundreds of hours of new gameplay to it, and on maps that have been proven to have a lot of mileage. I don’t think anyone who picks up this map pack is going to be disappointed with the purchase.
GR: Is the pricing something that you guys at Infinity Ward have a lot to do with, or is it all decided between Activision and Microsoft?
RB: Yeah, all pricing is handled by Activision outside of Infinity Ward. We really focus on all the creative content and let them handle all the business.
GR: One interesting thing about the DLC release this time is that you’re going up again Battlefield: Bad Company 2's downloadable content on the same day. There’s a bit of a fan rivalry developing between the two games at the moment. Obviously BF:BC2’s DLC has less content but it’s free and multi-format, whereas yours is paid-for and Xbox 360-only. How do you feel about that competition?
RB: I’m a big fan of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and I’m excited for the new game modes on those maps. But yeah, we don’t expect other games to stop supporting their communities because we’re supporting ours. And we’re excited about the content we’re bringing to our guys and we know they’re going to be excited about it.
GR: Have you noticed any difference in online play numbers since Battlefield came out, or is MW2 still ticking along consistently?
RB: Yeah, our player numbers have been consistent since we’ve been out, We’ve been the number one most-played game since launch, and I don’t see that slipping any time soon. Especially now that we have additional content out for our players to jump on and enjoy. But yeah, we’ve been fortunate enough to have a very dedicated community that’s sticking to the game every night.
GR: With CoD4 you just brought out the one map pack. Are you planning on supporting MW2 for longer this time around?
RB: Yeah, we will. We’re going to have a second map pack at some point. We don’t have details on that yet, but we’re definitely going to do more than one DLC this time around.
GR: Obviously there’s been a recent furore about various supposed goings-on at Infinity Ward. What’s the general atmosphere over there like with you guys? How are you weathering it?
RB: Right now, you know, we’re all focused on getting this DLC out, and that’s great for us, I mean it’s business as usual, which is the best thing that can happen at a time like this. That’s where our focus always wants to be, and that’s where it is right now. Things are good when we’re making games we love for people who love to play them.
GR: So it’s not hurt the morale over on your side of things at all?
RB: No, right now morale is high, because we’re really excited to get this DLC out. Any time we’re just about to launch something out to the community, morale boosts up, because you’re excited to see what your players think of it, and to watch them get on there and see what tactics they come up with.
So what do you think of Bowling's sayings? Are you still onboard with MW2, or are other games attracting your eye these days? Are we getting enough in the Stimulus Package to satiate your bloodlust, or do you want more for your money? Let us know in the comments, and via our Facebook and Twitter accounts.