Opinion Brief

Call of Duty Elite: Activision's 'risky' new subscription service

The publisher of the world's biggest gaming franchise plans a monthly subscription with enhanced stats and social networking. Will players really pony up for these extras?

The Call of Duty series is already the video game industry's biggest franchise, but publisher Activision Blizzard is looking to milk even more from its cash cow. Activision plans to launch a monthly subscription service this fall — the "risky" Call of Duty Elite — that will provide new perks, including downloadable map packs, social-networking features, and more in-depth stats about their performance in the war games. The company hasn't yet decided how much the subscription will cost, but will gamers who already shell out $60 to buy the game itself really be willing to answer this call? (Watch a trailer for the game.)

"This is an incredibly smart play": The publisher "knows how to profit from the secondary and even tertiary content that gamers are keen to access," says Ben Kuchera at Ars Technica. The "impressive" Elite system makes for "a solid way to give new players more information on how to fight better." And the social-networking functionality "is certainly intriguing," especially because it will allow gamers to find other players with similar skill levels and tendencies. Plus, to hardcore gamers, "any price is likely to seem like a bargain."
"Call of Duty Elite is a for-pay social, content service for MW3"

No, this is just lame: Activision "leaked just enough information about this to piss people off, and there’s very little to calm down the howling fans now," says Paul Tassi in Forbes. The gaming giant just "seems like yet another company trying to overcapitalize on social networking BS," but it won't work. "I can speak for the majority of Call of Duty players when I say I don’t give a shit about the interests of the people I’m virtually shooting."
"Activision to push their luck with Call of Duty Elite subscription package"

Activision needs this to keep its players loyal: This is an "ambitious strategy" for keeping fans tied to the franchise "as social and mobile games suck up bigger and bigger chunks of gamers' attention," says Chris Kohler in Wired. Activision is trying "to turn millions of casual Call of Duty players into a strong community," because "the tighter-knit the group, the less chance players will bail."
"Call of Duty Elite service musters treasure trove of stats"

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