The Monetization of Call of Duty’s Multiplayer

Activision is getting a little fed up with not getting their slice of the microtransaction or “pay to play” market. Apparently this era of gamers getting a free ride has been bad for business or something silly like that. I sentiment is not lost on me, as you know, since I despise the “free to play” (what a scam) market myself. There has been much talk from Activision and Bobby Kotick lately about services like Xbox Live and the idea of using microtransactions or paying for an online service via a subscription.

“I would have Call of Duty be an online subscription service tomorrow.” – Bobby Kotick re: if he had one wish.

Well Bobby, let’s talk about that. I’m not totally against the idea. I pay subscriptions to many things. I can even see your point about Xbox Live monetizing on every game out there instead of the publishers getting the money. That does seem a bit unfair to me that there’s a middleman at work. Let’s talk about this idea of monetizing the multiplayer of the Call of Duty franchise.

I would not pay just to play the game. That’s ridiculous and petty to access the online feature alone. I would pay for their service if there were bonuses included and if the services rendered justified a subscription.

– The subscription should cover ALL of their online shooters and not a subscription to just one title (Black ops, MW2, CoD4, etc all on one subscription)
– Really great platform connecting their games
– Map packs released for FREE and on a regular basis
– Content packs including more guns and attempts at expanding their titles regularly

“I think we could do a lot more to really satisfy the interests of the customers. I think we could create so many things, and make the game even more fun to play. We haven’t really had a chance to do that yet.” [Source]

Go on. You have my attention.

  • Kotick is a money grubbing son of a bitch and should be treated as such. Don’t even dignify his ideas, his ideal product charges your credit card every time you even think about the game. Fuck him.

    As for the more narrow idea of monetizing a first person shooter – Look at TF2. Map updates, weapon updates/class updates, custom maps that anyone with the skill and/or desire can make and easily distribute. No fees at all, and the game only costs 20 bucks. Free Weekends to get people playing, then charge them for the box, steam sales to sell more copies, and so forth.

    With that base line set Bobby Kotick better be sending a maid to my house to clean while I play if he is going to charge a subscription fee for CoD et al.

  • TF2 does seem like a diamond in the rough. There really isn’t any other game that has come close to matching its continued development.

    Yet I still find myself willing to entertain the idea of an even better game, an even better online experience, and an even more enticing (and guaranteed) level of ongoing production and content releases.

    If I pay $50 a year to Microsoft just so that I can go online with games made by other companies for the Xbox 360 then I can at least entertain the idea of cutting out that middle man if they provide something even better.

  • Youve really got to think a bit deeper into what they are saying. Theres no way youre going to be better off in an FPS with a subscription model over one without it. The whole idea of the sub model is to generate a constant flow of income that well exceeds the amount of work done by the company to update the game. In an fps this is very bad for the player.
    Just look at the already rediculous price of MW2. You currently pay an absolute premium for the original game, then theres 2 map packs rediculously priced, do you really think they are looking to make this cheaper for the player? I dont think so.

  • Well it’s becoming a feature of the industry that selling people a box and then providing free multiplayer is seen as old-fashioned, poor marketing and bad business.

    Unless players drift en masse away from paying $15/month sub or paying around that on average in a cash shop free multiplayer will die out.

  • @Stabs
    But dont you think people look at paying a very high price for a game that only has 5 – 7 hours of single player are expecting that the majority of that cost is going towards the multiplayer?
    In Australia we can pay upwards of $80 for a new FPS, and its the multi where you get the value out of the money. No doubt they will try and make people pay this price PLUS a subscription model afterwards for the multi, which is just plain ripping people off.

  • Keep in mind I’m not saying that I would be willing to pay a subscription for what we have now. No way at all would I be willing to pay a monthly fee to play BFBC2 or MW2. It’s about giving us ‘better’ and ‘more’ that would entice me.

  • I totally disagre that man is a clown, i along with many i know would never pay to play a game such as Cod

    1. Its to small of a game – I pay for wow and other games because they are huge and constantly need maintinance

    2. Your money hungry and you are forgetting the purpose of gaming and are more concerned about the profit you gain from it rather than the joy people get from it.

    3. If he ever did make it P2P they would lose so many and i mean soooooo many customers of regular gamers, which is more than half of the ppl who play cod, who woild be going to other games such as Moh, Battlefield etc

    4. its a FPS….

  • What kind of features would justify a subscription model in a FPS?

    It would have to be pretty elaborate – however, wouldn’t we turn the game into a – maybe crappy – MMORPG? Aside from turning it into pseudo MMORPG, is there anything you can dream up that would justify this?

  • What others have said, why pay for something like that when companies are giving away more guns/maps/additions for free (Tf2), Activision would have to slap on allot of additions to make it even worth while. Personally I think you will cut off allot of people with a sub based FPS and FPS games with low population might as well be single player because not being able to get regular close games with people around your area is pointless really.

  • @Argorius

    See, Planetside or World War 2 Online: Battleground Europe.

    Battleground Europe is more sim than shooter though, admittedly, and a game with mechanics that unforgiving will never be a mass market game. Still, you could see something being built with a similar overall structure and more casual mechanics being pretty popular.

  • Again, what we get now does not justify a subscription. Free maps, content updates, and BETTER (read: expanded scope, bigger, different) games would be required. Yes, even bigger and better than what TF2 sees.

    I’m somewhat stating the obvious, at least I think so, when I say that if the value is good enough then it’s worth justifying a subscription.

  • These greedy little f**ks, I have lost all respect for them now.The whole point of paying a subscription is to support ongoing development for a game.

    So what, they gonna release a few maps and a mod or 2 and that is suppose to validate having a subsription cost ?

    My god.

  • Sorry Keen, but Kotick just sounds like a greedy bastard trying to increase revenue.
    There’s plenty of games out there that offer great service and content expansion without adding a subscription service.

    And i consider you as a flip-flopper and someone with a double standard: one for Activision/Blizzard and another for the rest of the industry.

    I remember you bashing Global Agenda because they wanted to include a subscription plan. Look at what they did, they’ve been pumping content constantly and improving their game while droping their plans for subscriptions.
    And now you support Kotick in trying to put a subs plan in an FPS?

    He basically wants to charge a subsription service for what’s already provided for free or SHOULD be provided for free by other developers/publishers. And developers/publishers with a much smaller finantial muscle!!

    So why the double standard? Are you still butthurt for not finding another MMO with the polish level of WoW done by different developers? Or is it the Allods debacle that still stings you?

  • @Pedro: Because that’s EXACTLY what Bobby Kotick is. The man is about as shady and money hungry as they come. I have a feeling, that if he thought it made him money… He would charge his own children to sleep in their beds at night.

    What’s the point of paying a sub for a First Person Shooter? The whole point of the Genre has been flash graphics and gore with the joy of playing with buddies for free just being a bonus. Sub-based models are already, in my eyes, a dying breed. More and more games these days think slappy a few pretty faces on some pixels and the same randomly generated “go kill 800 of these” is worth a sub. It’s not. It never will be.

  • @Pedro: Oh for sure he’s greedy and he’s a prick and all that stuff. I totally believe it. Let’s not split hairs though.

    I’m not saying that we need subscriptions for FPS games. That’s absurd. I’m saying that we need to consider options that would be beneficial to us without being closed minded.

    If they can make better games with better features with a constant flow of content updates then I’m all for paying a subscription. I pay one for WoW. I’ve been paying them since before most people knew you could pay for things online. I remember paying a $20 sub for Active Worlds.

    1) No, he’s not saying he wants to charge a subscription for what’s already provided for free. Read the last quote. He claims there’s more he could do. That’s why I said “Go on. You have my attention.”

    2) Global Agenda wanted subscriptions for what they CURRENTLY offer. A) Worse than current FPS games and B) nothing new.

    I’m not “butthurt” about anything but it looks like you’re blind or have the reading comprehension of a toddler downing red bulls.

    Learn to read or please do not comment again.

  • Keen, what do you think about games like WW2O and Planetside? Is that the direction it should go in to be an MMOFPS, or do you think there should be another kind of implementation?

  • @Mala: I loved planetside. If there can be a Call of Duty adaptation to the Planetside Formula then I say go for it. I don’t think that’s where they’ll take it though. It probably makes most sense to them to just charge a sub fee. If they can provide a service worth paying for then I’ll pay it. If they can’t, then I won’t.

    Unlike many of the commenter’s here, I’m not discounting a subscription fee simply because this is a FPS franchise. If the franchise can adapt to provide a product or service worthy of my money then I’m always willing to entertain the idea.

  • oh, GA wanted subscriptions for what they currently offer?
    Curious, last i heard they launched without a subscription because they felt their game didn’t deserve one and changed their model to a system similar to Guild Wars.

    Now can you tell me why if a company as small as the one that makes GA thinks that is a viable way of sustaining themselves while providing new content why is Kotick considering slapping a sub to CoD?

    There’s only one reason: money.

    Tell me what kind of content in an FPS warrants a monthly sub? Is it new maps to play with your friends? New modes?
    If it is new PvE content or new campaigns they can very well offer those via boxed expansions.

    Even if he says that he can offer new things by sticking a subscription to CoD it will never justify a subscription considering what is being offered by the industry in other games.

    IMO, the only FPS that could be done a subscription would be DUST 514 from CCP because of the seamless inttegration with the EVE universe.

  • @Pedro: Hence the past tense, yes they wantED a subscription. I’m well aware and have already commented on their decision to withdraw their flawed payment model for what they offered. They weren’t offering enough and it was obvious, even to them.

    Their product wasn’t good enough, didn’t offer enough, and wasn’t anywhere near popular enough to sustain itself if they went the subscription fee route.

    Call of Duty is one of the largest first person shooter franchises ever made. It has the following and it has the clout to make a change and succeed. It would also require a LOT more.

    As I pointed out, here’s the bare minimum that I would expect for a subscription fee:

    – Unlimited online access to all Call of Duty and Activision games.

    – Regular (read: more often than TF2) content updates for FREE to subscribers including but not limited to: Maps, new guns, new modes, and new ways of expanding the titles.

    – A platform supporting their community, not this garbage. It would have to be a Steam meets platform where all of their games can be connected.

    – Dedicated servers hosted would need to be offered. I don’t care if this is handled entirely in-house or not but they would need to be there and need to be tied into the platform. An additional fee would be expected.

    – Improvements to what we currently have now in terms of gameplay. If they say they can give us more game and more fun then I want to see how they can expand upon the current model (which is getting older now) and give us new gameplay.

    If you can justify Dusty 514 getting a subscription fee just because it’s tied into the EVE universe then why not give other games a chance? Is it just because it’s Call of Duty and Bobby Kotick?

  • No it’s not. It’s because i am expecting dust to be a persistent game.
    If it’ss not it’s obvious i won’t support that.

  • Could a Call of Duty style persistent game not be worth it then?

    What if that’s what they are referring to by saying they could, quote, “do a lot more to really satisfy the interests of the customers. I think we could create so many things, and make the game even more fun to play.”

    What I’m saying is this. I’m willing to entertain the idea that they can do something with the franchise, with their games, that would justify a sub. Nothing more. Nothing less.

  • If they release a Planetside version of CoD that could be worth it.
    But what i am pointing out is that you’ve contradicting yourself immensely lately and it really disapointed me since i took for someone more coherent.

    You’ve been bashing other companies for doing some stuff, but if it has a Activision/Blizzard logo then it’s all sunshine and rainbows from you.

  • Please do let me know what I’ve contradicted myself on and I’ll do my best to clarify. The only time I can think of contradicting myself is when I knowingly change my mind.

    I reserve the right to change my mind, but I can’t think of anything lately that has to do with Activision Blizzard that might warrant someone calling me out as incoherent.

  • C-Store of Cryptic. Cash shop of Blizzard, namely the sparkle pony controversy. this is one i can think of right now.

  • I haven’t commented on the C-Store at all. I don’t even know what it is really.

    I know that I do not like the idea of having to play playable races within a game. For example, having to buy the Ferengi pissed me off. You can’t be a ferengi unless to buy them.

    The Sparkly Pony is a mount like any other. I find it acceptable to sell a Sparkly pony or little in-game cosmetic pets that follow you around because they’re extras and stuff that you won’t need that directly impacts your character. The mount isn’t any better than any other mount.