I'll be honest: I don't know how fans cracked the code. But today, a few Call of Duty: Modern Warfare streamers and fan websites received a package containing a carousel projector and slides that had to be decoded. The twist is that all the recipients had to pool their information together in order to solve the mystery, revealing what's in store for Call of Duty in 2020.
Within hours, Call of Duty faithful cracked the code and found a secret website that ominously reveals exactly when we'll know about Call of Duty 2020, rumored to be titled Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. And it's sooner than you think.
What Happened? — Over the weekend, a handful of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare streamers like NoahJ456 and websites like Charlie Intel and Dexerto received a package from Activision: a giant crate with orders not to open it until August 10, 12 p.m. Eastern.
Miraculously, the recipients adhered to the embargo and opened the box on their respective livestreams and Twitter accounts at 12 p.m. Eastern. Upon opening, they discovered a vintage carousel projector (just like the one Don Draper used in a very memorable episode of Mad Men), printed documents, and slides featuring a collection of maps, drawings, and codes.
The fun twist is that each recipient received a different set of clues, which meant everyone had to work together remotely in order to solve the puzzle. And solved it, they did.
What Did It Reveal? — To be perfectly honest, it is very tricky putting the pieces together from an observer's point of view, as it's a little difficult parsing and putting together disparate tweets and YouTube videos. (Inverse did not receive a package and we did not participate in the discovery 😞.) But what matters is that fans figured out the riddle the boxes contained, which led to a secret website containing the visual of a retro television, retro computers, a telephone landline, and a VCR (yes, a VCR) flashing the date "08-14" and "12:00."
It seems cryptic, but it's actually obvious: On August 14, at 12:00 p.m. (presumably Eastern Standard Time), Activision will reveal the 2020 installment of Call of Duty. The game has thus far been rumored to reboot the Black Ops series, which was initially set in the Cold War. Hence all the retro tech like VCRs and old projectors.
Some clever fans also brightened the image and found a map of the existing Verdansk, which serves as the location of the popular Warzone battle royale game that spun off of 2019's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. It has been previously confirmed by Activision that Warzone will continue to co-exist as its own entity alongside new installments of Call of Duty.
The Inverse Analysis — In a throwback to the early days of video game guerrilla marketing, (like Halo 2 and its "I Love Bees" promotion), Activision had some real fun with the community today in a time when the concept of community is harder to fathom. While it was less fun being an observer unable to follow the serpentine path the streamers and websites embarked on, it was nonetheless something unique, even if it is promoting a video game that could just release a normal trailer and still make millions of dollars at launch.
Among other weird things about 2020, this has been the latest fans have gotten to know about a new Call of Duty game. Last year, Activision announced Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in May, meaning we had the whole summer to gawk at trailers and behind the scenes videos. This year, fans have had nothing to go on aside from random leaks from Doritos. But now, within days, their patience will be rewarded.
Call of Duty 2020 will release an announcement on August 14.