Activision's rollout of the new "Call of Duty HQ" launcher has been anything but elegant. The HQ, which is really just a rebranded frontend for a single CoD game, is the only way to launch the new Modern Warfare 3, and until yesterday, that process was a real slog. To play MW3, you had to first launch the CoD HQ, then click MW3, then return to the desktop, then wait for the actual game you wanted to play to boot.
That's now been reversed by a patch deployed on the eve of Modern Warfare 3's full release: Launching "Call of Duty" now takes you to the front end of Modern Warfare 3 (whether you actually own it or not), and switching over to last year's MW2 or Warzone now requires a return to desktop first. Essentially, MW3 is now the homepage of CoD, making the launch process easy for folks making the leap to the new game, but simultaneously much worse for the hundreds of thousands of people who prefer to stick to Warzone, DMZ, or Modern Warfare 2.
No matter what mindset I try to place myself in, the decision is just mind-boggling. I can't think of another instance in the history of videogames where you've been required to launch a different game you may not own or want in order to get to a game you've owned for a year. It essentially takes twice as long to launch Warzone on PC than it did last week, and yet Activision claims the HQ makes our lives easier.
"Call of Duty HQ was developed to bring players benefits like Carry Forward, easier file size management, and more seamless switching between Call of Duty: Warzone and the latest annual releases," the publisher wrote in a blog post this week.
In a few specific scenarios, I suppose it's true. Deleting and installing modules of CoD games is possible within the client now, and switching from battle royale to 6v6 multiplayer to DMZ is a faster process with a dedicated app switcher. But the post doesn't engage with the community's main criticism that it shouldn't be the only way to access CoD.
Activision says it'll continue "fine-tuning Call of Duty HQ to optimize the player experience," but it sounds like we're stuck with its awkward app switching for the foreseeable future. Conditions should improve for Warzone players in the next month or so—the post mentions that "players will be able to seamlessly switch between Modern Warfare 3 and Warzone content starting in Season 01," which I believe is Activision-speak for "Warzone will be on the same executable as MW3 starting in Season 1." Judging by past years, I expect that will begin in December.
At that point, only MW2 will be left with the annoying launch/unlaunch/relaunch process, and Activision might be content to keep it that way as the outdated game fades into CoD obscurity.