Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's battle royale mode, Blackout, has become incredibly popular among gamers. Players have enjoyed facing off as some of the series' most iconic soldiers while events like the Zombies holiday have given fans an additional reason to keep playing. Most importantly, that dedication has persisted for a product that retails for full price, while the competition is either cheaper or free.
But according to Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter, that entry fee may disappear this year. In an interview focused on 2019 predictions for the games industry, Pachter suggests that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Blackout will go free-to-play "at least a month" before the launch of the next Call of Duty game. The analyst made the comments alongside a similar prediction that Overwatch will go free-to-play during 2019.
Pachter suggests the move will help promote the next Call of Duty game, which is expected to be Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4. Since Activision has yet to officially announce its next Call of Duty, it's unclear whether Modern Warfare 4 will keep the Blackout game mode or improve on it in any way.
However, making Blackout free could be a good way to draw lapsed players into the franchise. Blackout may be popular but the premium price tag likely kept intrigued players away. For comparison, rival BR game Fortnite has 200 million players, largely thanks to its free-to-play status. Not to mention, going free to play could also help with the looming competition from Battlefield V, which will launch its Firestorm battle royale mode in the next few months.
It should be noted that Pachter is only making predictions based on industry trends and experience. By his own acknowledgment, the analyst's previous predictions have been a bit hit or miss. For example, in 2018 he predicted a mobile Warcraft game announcement and an Xbox One X price cut to $349 (it didn't reach that figure outside of sales periods). In the same 2019 predictions post, Pachter also suggested that The Elder Scrolls 6 would be released in 2019, which seems very unlikely.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.