Update: Jimmy Zielinski recently revealed that the system's primary factors are your downs and reaching high rounds in relation to one another. The system is evidently slightly more complex than this (or the application of the two factors is) as once you start a game, you're expected to hit a quote of rounds/a certain round with as few downs as possible; not only that, however, but also they count individually, so if you played until round forty three games in a row, then played until round one the next time, sorry, but that's counted towards your rank, whether you went down or not. For undeniable proof of this, please see the section titled "Afore-mentioned Situation". While I won't be patrolling the comments, please refrain from defending the "kills to downs" system; I proved it was wrong and so did one of the developers of the game, so you'd be wasting your time.
This post debunks some beliefs of how the Zombies level/ranking/emblem system functions and also presents how I believe the system works. Originally I believed it to be kills to games played, however since I created another account and achieved shotguns on them, I now believe it is average rounds survived. Perhaps not a new opinion, but it's proved logical thus far.
Average Round Survived:
Upon finishing the game in which I reached 10,000 kills in my overall stats, I was rewarded with level four (machete/knife). Another user in the comments claims the same thing happened to them. Therefore it may be that 10,000 kills must be achieved in order to gain that level (not proven, but it has been a constant and therefore worth considering). Or maybe not, maybe it's something else, such as the fact it was a round over thirty. All except three of my eighteen games that I played prior to reaching level five on that account are past round twenty-five, the round I believe may be the round at which you must average to level up to level five. At this point, this is all hearsay, but some more solid stuff is yet to be mentioned. I'll take this moment to point out that many of the games reached into the late forties (thereby averaging out the lower rounds,which is year five mathematics), and I'm pretty sure my average round survived is about thirty-ish, minimum.
There are a few reasons as to why the Call of Duty Elite app might display your rounds survived. One is that it just does, to show you where you made it up to. Another is that "rounds survived" is an integral part of your rank, allowing you to keep track of how you played. At this point, only Treyarch can say for certain which, if any, because no information has been released and therefore neither opinion has more weight.
Average rounds survived seems logical, since not-very-good players can't cheat that system (see Why Not Kills to Deaths Ratio?) without actually hacking, an act that sees them get banned/reset etc. Of course, it may be average kills per game, since if you're getting carried through the game by a really good player, you don't deserve a better level/rank/emblem for that, but I'm discussing average rounds survived, currently.
It is definite that the number of points gained or rounds survived (there may be another, but it escapes my mind currently) in relation to games played is integral to the system, as these are the only variables in the "Afore-mentioned Situation" section of this post, which saw me drop from level four to three on my primary account.
I realise none of the above is 100% solid proof, but the average round survived system definitely proves logically sound, at least to some extent. Other systems I have considered are average points gained per game (possibly debunked by having a bank system) and average kills per game (outlined in the original post below).
Original post below:
So I feel I'm finally ready to put what seems to logically (logic included below) the way the Zombies emblem system works, after months of keeping it to myself, figuring everyone will think it's "just another theory". So here goes.
I am adamant the Zombies emblem system relies on your kills to games played. Not your kills to downs, nor your kills to deaths. I keep my games played counted, by the way. I'm a bit OCD like that.
Why Not Kills to Deaths Ratio?
Because in the Solo mode of Zombies, each time you are downed while you have Quick Revive, a death is added to your stats (this was a bug that was eventually fixed, however, and thus this point is irrelevant, though I provided solid proof in another point, so no, I'm not automatically wrong). That means at the end of a game, you will have four deaths rather than one. I have seen this a lot as I play Solo often, and am always checking my stats. Another reason is the fact that if it were kills to deaths, your ratio would be absolutely destroyed by playing Turned. As many a thing people believe Treyarch have messed up, I highly doubt they would allow that to happen. Plus, in the next section I will mention a situation where both deaths and downs were irrelevant so there is still more evidence to come.
Why Not Kills to Downs Ratio?
Because you can cheat it. Explanation and example: When a player is active in a game, they can leave it at any time thanks to turning the system/router off or leaving the game. For example, if I were to play Green Run's TranZit mode and was in a situation where I was about to be downed, I could leave the game just before I am and therefore the stats would update everything, however would have no downs to add. This would be too easily abused by people wanting a higher emblem because as I have already explained, the downs wouldn't be counted. Furthermore, having looked through the ranking system on posts across the Internet, there are many people who have high emblems while their kill downs ratio is below the satisfactory number people claim you require for kills versus downs.
Your stats in Zombies update every time you start a new round (this also works in Multiplayer, I have tested it and your stats do increase round by round). Proof: Start a Zombies game and open the Call of Duty ELITE iPod etc. app. Check your stats prior to the game (on either your Zombies gaming system or the app, your choice) then play some rounds. Close the app and reopen every round. Your stats in regards to kills etc. will update with every round completed. I have noticed this only happens when you start the round after, so reaching the end of (example) round twenty-five with a crawler left will not have different stats to when you started the round.
This is a situation that proved that downs and deaths are not key to your emblem. A friend and I decided to play Nuketown Zombies together. We started a match, however upon the map opening he timed out. I was sent an image with an error, however we tried again. The same thing happened. A third time we tried, and yet again he timed out. This time I killed six zombies and ended the game. I partied up with him immediately and we decided to find others to play with in the hopes of it working. We found two other players surprisingly quickly and as we waited for people to ready up, my emblem (skull with knife) dropped to the skull emblem. I was bothered however we started the game and played for a while. Now we know that stats sometimes take a little while to update (an example for the sceptical (it's at 11:58 onwards in this video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xazor1pzJ4U) hence my emblem not dropping immediately. Take note that there were no downs nor deaths, only the entering and leaving of a game, which means downs and deaths are not key to your emblem. I now have my emblem back, in case you were wondering, which is unlikely because you're here for the system (hopefully) explaining.
So How Does the System Operate?
I definitely believe it is kills to games played. However I am unsure about the threshold for the number of kills to games that will either promote or demote you, though I do believe that a 100 kills to games played ratio will earn you the skull with a knife, because my kills to games played ratio was over one-hundred prior to the Nuketown Zombies incident and less than afterward, plus many a player through the forums have stated they received such an emblem after achieving a ratio of over one-hundred.
I believe that there may be a prerequisite of games to achieve a particular emblem, however I'm unsure. It makes sense too, because one to ten games aren't really enough to base your emblem on. I will look into this.
Thresholds as to where I believe you may need to reach to achieve a partiular level (all of which is speculation)
Three games played/x amount of rounds survived: nominates you for level two (if it's a kills threshold, then it is lower than 325, due to a person on my friend list having this number of kills and this level)
Ten games played/x amount of rounds survived/10,000 kills: nominates you for level four (not sure which is correct, but no-one is bar Treyarch)
Average round of 25 or 30/x amount of rounds survived: nominates you for level five (again, none of this is confirmed, just what I've picked up may be possible from my stats and gameplay)
Thank you if you have read everything in this post. The Treyarch team (I feel) did well with this system and I'm surprised it took everyone so long to work this thing out and at the very least, crush the "kills to downs" theory. If you wish to reproduce this content in any means, please let me know prior to doing so.
One more thing: The Zombies ranking system has caused a lot of controversy since its release. Many people are now hostile about a person's level/rank/emblem and it really needs to stop. There are some great shotgun emblem players, and there are terrible ones. The same applies to every other level/rank/emblem too. Remember that everyone started their Black Ops II Zombies career with a single bone.
- Dave the Disturbing