Call Of Duty Series Introducing Subscriptions

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This fall, Activision Blizzard are introducing a new subscription service called Call Of Duty Elite for all games in the series from Black Ops onwards. While Activision Executives have not yet decided on a price for the monthly subscription, it is expected to be around or less than the $8 a month that Netflix currently charge for a monthly film subscription.

It would provide extra content not available to normal players, such as new map packs but some parts will be free, such as a social networking type service for players of similar interests to meet up in. There will also be a toolset that will give Call of Duty players stat tracking. It’s essentially all of the features that are offered by Bungie in Halo games or Valve in Team Fortress 2, but for a price. You can also form clans, take part in leagues and upload clips on YouTube. It won’t effect online and a lot of the features will be offered for free, but it seems very sinister that the premium areas have not been announced yet.

Quite frankly, I hope this is a momentous failure for Activision, because it is complete bullshit. I say this as someone who is not invested in the series, but for starters, people already pay $60 a year for a new Call of Duty game, which is overpriced anyway. And while PSN and PC may be free, the majority of Call Of Duty players are 360 owners, so that’s another $60 a year just to play online. So if you say hypothetically, $5 a month for this service, that’s a third $60 a year just for some stat tracking and a few map packs. I’d like to believe people wouldn’t buy into that, but they will, and they’ll paying up $180 a year to play a first person shooter that is arguably matched by alternatives in the market. And it’ll work. The company bumped up their map packs to $15 with Modern Warfare 2 and it was just accepted by its players, so I suppose you can’t blame them for wanting to milk money out of their consumers even more.

Of course, subscriptions are nothing new. After all, Activision have their hands on the biggest cash cow of them all, World Of Warcraft. The difference being is that it’s a PC game that itself is very cheap to buy. Call Of Duty Elite may not be compulsory now and the publisher are acting innocently about it, but how long will it be before features that should quite rightly be free or in the actual game are stripped away as “features” of the subscription service.

It’ll be successful because Call of Duty is such a popular franchise and idiots are willing to pay for a service they shouldn’t need to pay for in the first place. I just hope it doesn’t pave the way for other developers to have similar strategies when it comes to getting more money out of people.

PS: Finally, to the games press who are complaining about being under embargo and Wall Street Journal getting the scoop anyway, grow some balls. It may be have been a dick move from Activision to do that, but for an idea as bad as this, they should have been breaking the embargo anyway. The problem is that they’re too scared of being blacklisted to do so, and that’s an inherently wrong attitude. Besides, an embargo isn’t even a legal agreement, it’s more of a “I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine” informal agreement.

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