Call of Duty: Modern Warfare just got an update that adds a new in-game virtual pet. The Tomogunchi watch is an item you can add to your character that will enable you to take care of the Tamagotchi-like creature. And how does that “care” work? Through murder, of course.
For the zoomers reading this, Tamagotchis are dedicated handheld games, and they simulate the needs of a digital animal. You have to feed, clean, and nurture the pet to ensure it stays happy and healthy. Modern Warfare’s Tomogunchi is similar, but you feed it by playing Call of Duty and getting kills.
Tomogunchi is hungry, and it only eats the souls of your enemies.
Introducing the Tomogunchi: a virtual pet for your Operator!
1️⃣ Feed it!
2️⃣ Monitor its moods!
3️⃣ And help it evolve!
— Call of Duty (@CallofDuty) March 3, 2020
As you feed it death, your Tomogunchi will grow and evolve. If you fail to provide it the nourishing death it craves, however, your pet may fall into a depression. It can even “die due to inattention,” according to Activision’s blog post. So get to killing, and save the virtual animals.
Why does Tomogunchi make me want to play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare?
Call of Duty is not the first game to introduce a pet system. You can get them in World of Warcraft and plenty of other games. And the Tomogunchi serves the same purpose as in those other examples: It’s another metaprogression to add some extra flavor to the play experience.
And we get these kinds of things because they work.
Battle passes make you come back even if you don’t feel like it. Because if you’re going to play a game, you might as well get some levels out of it to unlock more content. And now, in Call of Duty, you might as well be leveling up your pet on top of enjoying the game.
What’s notable here is some developers are resistant to these kinds of mechanics. One recently told me that they see it as a distraction from the “real game.” But they also feel like they need more of these gimmicks because that’s the way the industry is moving. And if Call of Duty has virtual pets and Rainbow Six: Siege doesn’t, well someone might spend their evening with Call of Duty instead.
It sounds silly. I know. But these forever games are battling for every second of your time. That engagement turns into spending in a very reliable way, and these games survive and thrive on it.
So if the Tomogunchi is a success, expect to find it in more games.