People often joke about their Xbox or PlayStation being dedicated to a single game, but if you've got a smaller hard drive, that might not be far off from the truth these days. Ahead of the launch of Season 4 for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Warzone—which, after a delay, is happening tonight at 11 p.m. PT—Infinity Ward says to get ready for another hefty patch.
"The Season 4 download is going to be large," says Ashton Williams, Senior Communications Manager for Infinity Ward. "In order to reduce the overall disc space that MW and WZ take up, we're compressing a bunch of assets. Once installed, the S4 launch will only take up an additional 4 GB on consoles for all of the new content."
Judging by past updates, it'll likely be a download somewhere north of 10 GB, but after installation Season 4's final footprint on the hard drive won't be quite so big. Still, after late April's "Data Pack 1" update, a fully patched installation of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare sits at just over 190 GB on PlayStation 4. Another 4 GB on top of that puts Modern Warfare just shy of two fresh Red Dead Redemption 2 installs.
While it might not be an issue for folks with 1 TB drives or better, ballooning patch sizes are still a bummer when combined with less-than-stellar download speeds. Compression techniques can work wonders, but they're not magic. For something with the fidelity of Modern Warfare or Warzone, install sizes are simply going to be large, and will likely only shrink if future updates end up removing or replacing content.
That's a lesson Bungie preached with Destiny 2 just yesterday, saying that it's already "too large to efficiently update and maintain" at its current 115 GB size. With Modern Warfare and Warzone, Infinity Ward might not suffer the same problems Bungie sees when it comes to further development and testing (different engine tech and all that), but the storage inconvenience to players is more or less the same.
This is an issue that might not be as prevalent with next-gen consoles. Yes, the Xbox Series X and PS5 will use pretty different SSDs, but both will reduce the amount of time a console needs to find relevant data. As Sony System Architect Mark Cerny explained back in March, SSDs eliminate hard drive seek time, meaning developers won't need to lean on fast-loading tricks like storing multiple copies of the same assets in a game's install. We could see newer, bigger games taking up less space on next-gen drives, fingers crossed.