This year’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 represents far more than just another addition to the popular series – it’s also about a big step from a major publisher into further monetising what is an already massively lucrative gaming franchise.
But the headline that Activision will struggle to escape is that of monthly subscription fees. While no doubt millions of loyal COD players will sign up without a moment’s hesitation, for many it will be a test of their loyalty. Further cost on top of Xbox Live subscriptions is a hard sell.
But Activision is confident it can successfully execute the juggling act.
“We know premium membership is a change and we know it’s something we have to get right,” Activision’s VP of digital Jamie Berger told MCV at the game’s official press unveiling last week.
“We have two commitments to honour: value and choice. The average player spends 170 hours online on Call of Duty in a year. That is incredible value, we’ve set a very high bar for ourselves and we know that Elite must exceed that bar and offer the best value in gaming or entertainment period.
“So I think Elite is a recognition that we have 30m people worldwide doing something and we can’t just leave them to their own devices. We have to support them and get ahead of their needs, rather than always playing catch-up with them.”
Of course, ahead of anything else Berger was keen to stress that anything gamers get for free now they will continue to receive for free in the future.
“Call of Duty does not and will not charge for multiplayer. That is our commitment to our players,” he added.
“There’s been lots of speculation about this so we need to rid people of their misconceptions about us trying to charge for multiplayer, make COD an MMO or other things that we’ve simply never had plans to do.
“We need to get the information out there and be honest. We need to explain what it is, why we think players will enjoy it and that we’re not making everyone get it if they don’t want it.
"It’s about choice. If it appeals to you, then great, we can show you something that we think you’ll find really exciting. If it doesn’t, then good news – you never have to touch it. You can play the game all day long, you can still get DLC, you can just use the free elements of the service.”