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When Call of Duty: Warzone released back in March of 2020, no one quite knew what to make of it. It was the second battle royale in the franchise, following Black Ops 4’s Blackout. Warzone was the first mainstream CoD to be free-to-play though, so its popularity quickly eclipsed Blackout’s. Players immediately jumped at the chance to hop on and experience it, and once they did, most stayed for the long haul.

At first, the game seemed like another run-of-the-mill battle royale with Call of Duty movement and weaponry. However, as players delved deeper, they discovered new intricacies and began to fall in love with the franchise again. The nostalgia from the early 2010s returned, and players could hop on with their friends as CoD became truly mainstream again.

However, this quickly turned sour for many, as problems began to make their way to the fore. Call of Duty: Warzone cheating ran rampant, game-breaking bugs were introduced and went unfixed for weeks, and weapons became severely overpowered. To this day, those problems still exist, and yet Warzone is as popular as ever with both players and viewers.

Looking at Warzone’s popularity

The battle royale trend in gaming is still as present today as it was in 2017. Fortnite, Apex Legends and PUBG are still prevalent, and Warzone simply followed in those footsteps. It only made sense for Activision to introduce a free-to-play battle royale, to cash in on the success of the genre.

However, maybe even Activision didn’t expect Warzone to explode the way it did. Hundreds of millions of players have downloaded and played the game, nearly a year after it initially released. The free-to-play aspect certainly played a huge part in the game’s success, but for most, the enjoyment of the game is what keeps them around.

Call of Duty: Warzone
Call of Duty: Warzone released on March 10, 2020. Image via Activision

From the bounties system to the map of Verdansk and the limitless loadouts you can create, Warzone is one of the most in-depth battle royales on the market. This, paired with the cross-play aspect and the non-predatory cosmetic bundles, has made Warzone an international phenomenon.

The game consistently garners over 100,000 viewers on Twitch, which can’t be said for the few CoDs that came before. While it doesn’t quite reach the popularity level of the battle royale king, Fortnite, it still holds its own in the genre.

However, there are some within the gaming community that can’t wrap their heads around why it’s so popular. Similar to Fortnite, the game has a plethora of issues that have gone unfixed for extended periods of time. However, Activision seems to have a harder time than others at fixing the game’s problems. Having said that, this hasn’t led to a dip in player count. In fact, Warzone has only grown with these problems still present.

Why do fans continue to play Warzone?

If you ask players what their biggest concern with Warzone is, most will likely say the lack of an anti-cheat. While the issue is more of a problem for PC players, console users with cross-play enabled will also run into the problem.

There are certainly other issues with this battle royale, but every day huge amounts of players will complain about cheaters. If you play Call of Duty: Warzone on PC or with cross-play enabled, you’ve undoubtedly been killed by numerous players cheating. While some are banned, the persisting issue keeps arising because Activision still has not implemented an anti-cheat system.

Call of Duty: Warzone
Very few games can currently match Call of Duty: Warzone in popularity. Image via Activision

Cheaters have gone on record to say they’re not afraid of being banned in Warzone. They can simply make another account to cheat on, and keep the train moving. Traditionally, an issue as large as this one would turn fans away from playing.

However, as previously mentioned, Warzone has only grown over the last several months. There are numerous problems with the game and still, players hop on every day and then proceed to complain about the same issues.

Many are baffled by this, and it begs the question of why is Warzone still popular? The answer comes down to two aspects. One, the enjoyment of the game outweighs the problems it has, and two, genre fans have very little else to play. No other major battle royale has released since Warzone, and players are simply unwilling to move on to something else.

The future of Warzone

It’s a tricky situation to navigate, as Activision is continually seeing the player count rise, and the money pour in. As long as this keeps occurring, the publisher might not see a need to implement an anti-cheat, or fix the game’s other big issues.

Call of Duty personalities often call out Activision for not having an anti-cheat solution, and for waiting too long to fix game-breaking problems. However, Call of Duty: Warzone is as popular as ever today and until that changes, the game’s prominent cheating issues might never be fully resolved.


Joey Carr is a full-time writer for multiple esports and gaming websites. He has 6+ years of experience covering esports and traditional sporting events, including DreamHack Atlanta, Call of Duty Championships 2017, and Super Bowl 53.


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