Activision has denied it and denied it, but today it's been revealed - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 will feature an online service (that's what Call of Duty Elite is), complete with monthly subscription fees.
It's not as bad as we once thought, however. You won't be paying for multiplayer, and you won't be paying to play the game itself. You will however, if you choose, be paying for extra content that isn't offered on game discs, and an assortment of map packs. We're not sure how this varies to traditional DLC, by the way. Parts of the service - such as online matchmaking - will be free.
But wait - that's not all! We can also anticipate tracking features that will analyse your in-game performance, in a toolset inspired by stock-trading websites.
At this stage, the exact fee hasn't been determined, but the company expects it to be somewhere in the $5/month range, intentionally priced lower than other, comparable online-entertainment services such as Netflix.
The company's Chief Executive, Bobby Kotick, has explained that he's not worried about "pushback" from consumers, because the game will still offer a bunch of fre online content. Call of Duty Elite will, however, provide services and offerings that would not be possible on a free operation, describing the move as an "enormous investment".
The move has also been described as "potentially risky", and is seen by the industry as a way for publisher Activision to milk further profits from consumers. That said, it's likely not the last time we see a subscription model like this - but only a few games have the audience loyalty and massive userbase to make it a success. When CoD Elite launches (presumably in November with MW3), all eyes will be on Activision.
COD Elite will be free to all COD players – paid aspects TBD, and as promised, no charge for MP. Many more details in the AM.
The story is also circulating that the WSJ story is factually inaccurate, while the games media are still stuck behind an agreed-upon embargo.
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