The Call of Duty community has been up in arms over the last few days following news that the Black Ops 4 servers are running at a tick rate 20hz rather than the industry standard 60hz. I covered this topic in a recent post but to briefly summarise the situation, a lower tick rate means that the servers are being fed information on a less frequent basis than they should, leading to inconsistencies within the multiplayer experience. If you'd like to learn more about tick rate then please feel free to check out my earlier post linked above.

Yesterday, Treyarch released their latest patch notes for the game over at Reddit. This is something they do regularly to keep the community up to date with changes and additions to the game. This usually includes weapon balancing, bug removals, changes to in-game content and so on. However, this set of patch notes also included a response about the community reaction to the low tick rate issue. The bulk of Treyarch's response is as follows:

For a game launch with as massive a population as ours hitting so many global servers at once, we configure our infrastructure to ensure game stability as the highest priority over all other factors.
Now that we’re past the initial launch of the game, we are focusing on fine-tuning network performance around the globe, using the real-world data that we have collected. Over the course of the next two weeks, we will roll out several updates to our network setup that will continue to improve upon the experience of our players since launch

There are a couple of things to consider here. Firstly, is there any truth in what Treyarch is saying? This is a two-part answer. From experience, Call of Duty launches can be full of major issues at times. Last year saw the release of Call of Duty: WW2 fall flat on its face because the game was pretty much unplayable for the first few days. After all the build-up over the previous months, I found myself frustrated by endless 'unable to connect to server' errors. A friend of mine returned the game on the very same day and bought something else. I didn't go that far but if he did, you can bet that others around the world did the same thing too.

I'm of the opinion that the poor launch of WW2 was one of the first nails in its coffin as a game. A top-rated game like Call of Duty should at the very least have servers that are capable of handling such predictable large volumes of traffic on launch day. In that sense, therefore, Treyarch may well have reduced the tick rate in order to ensure that there wasn't a repeat of server collapses. To their credit, there hasn't been a single instance where I wasn't able to find a game over the first couple of weeks post-launch.

My only concern here is why Treyarch kept this information hidden from the community. In the modern era, there are plenty of people with the know-how to expose this kind of thing on YouTube, and that's exactly what we saw. Had Treyarch released an initial set of notes explaining that connection issues were a priority at launch and tick rate would be improved over time, none of this backlash would have occurred.

Secondly, the question remains as to whether Treyarch is being truthful about their intentions or if they've just been caught out and are looking for a way to explain themselves. If the tick rate is going to be improved over the coming weeks then I can accept the current issues with the broader consideration that the game is actually playable. However, if these issues aren't resolved then the multiplayer experience has been seriously hindered.

I will be taking a keen interest in the patch notes over the next few weeks to see if there are any developments in this regard. My hope is that Treyarch sticks to its word and improves the network issues as soon as possible. Community pressure will go a long way to making sure that this happens. Black Ops 4 is, in my opinion, the most fun release the franchise has put out in years. It would be a shame for the developers to ruin that experience with something like this.