Call of Duty Elite

I’m all about tools that help build and foster a better online community.  Shooter style games often call into one of two categories: Really great community or absolutely none at all.  Lately it feels like even the properties with a rich history of community are not living up to the past.  MW2 had absolutely no community.  Black Ops, even after adding dedicated servers, has what feels like less community than MW2.  Bad Company 2 beats the Call of Duty communities of late but still can’t even compare to Team Fortress 2’s.

Activision plans to release a service called “Call of Duty Elite”.  Based on what they’ve released already, here are my thoughts.

Career – Very detailed stat tracking.  Nothing new here, but for the real elite players this stuff does matter.  Something about seeing the k/d ratio gets some people very giddy.  Personally, I like looking at how bad I do but this isn’t anything new that hasn’t already been offered for free in the past.

Connect – It’s essentially a social networking of players.  If I create a group called “Keen and Graev” then anyone who wants to search and start playing with others in the Keen and Graev group.  This idea really shines on consoles but I feel like it’s also been done before in the PC market via Steam and dedicated servers tools.  Depending on how they implement the idea, it may prove to be even better than Steam’s tools.  I’m doubtful, though.

Compete – Built in support for tournaments or “activities” is awesome.  Again, console players benefit the most from something like this but the PC market can just as easily benefit from a system that automates the joining and participation process.  Contests to win real and in-game prizes in what is hopefully a very sleek and polished system makes this sound like the best feature in the ‘Elite’ package.

Improve – Tutorials and tips.   Who cares?

Map Packs – You get them all for free if you are an ‘Elite’ member.

Okay, so the real question here is whether or not these services, which are dubious to the PC player at best but really cool to the console player, will be worth the subscription fee that Activision will inevitably charge.  Getting the map packs for free if you are a member makes me think the price will be competitive enough to drive more players to the elite service than normally buy the packs but high enough … If I had to guess I would say $7.95 give or take a dollar.

How will they handle people who stay ‘Elite’ just long enough to get a map pack and then cancel?  There are still lots of questions.

If I were EA, I would launch competitive features FOR FREE and release them all with Battlefield 3 to make Activision look stupid.

Totally unrelated but this came to mind:

  • I really hope BF does not go down this road. The BF series is the only FPS I truly enjoy. Buying the Vietnam exp I had no problem with because it added real content.

  • I agree. I bought the vietnam expansion to Bad Company 2 without really second guessing it and I’m 100% happy with the purchase.

  • I know that in the past I’ve said that EA is the anti-Christ of gaming, I also want to add Bobby Kotick to that list, he is the devils child and the true anti-Christ of gaming.

  • Remember when Kotick said he would like to see subscription costs for CoD? Guess he wasn’t talking about a CoD MMO after all.

  • @Fursnake: That’s precisely the point, too. It’s NOT for an MMO. It’s for features that a game should have anyways. It’s just like what Blizzard is doing. Charging small fees for features that are not really that useful. Except maybe the mobile auction house. But what good I can say, is that the Blizzard “Premium” services are not overly pricey. I’m not holding too much faith in a man who has openly stated he merely wants to exploit the gaming community.

  • I will be interested to see the price as a comparison to the cost of buying those Map Packs as they launch: as I recall one of the big issues causing the MW2 Developer Schism was Map Pack pricing.
    Who knew that a few years down the line they would not only be pumping out map packs, charging for them AND considering a subs service.

    I’m glad I don’t like CoD enough to find this interesting at more than an academic level 🙂

    I’ve been watching the MW3 Ads which imply missions set in America, England, France and Germany. Given the ever-decreasing volume of solo content I’m fearing a hasty 1-hour “tour of duty” in each country with a 1-hour conclusion mission back Stateside.

  • @Shadrah: Don’t get me wrong, I am on the same page as you. I was trying to be a bit snarky hehe. Back when Kotick said that a lot of people went “Ooooooooo, a CoD MMO?” and folks didn’t want to believe that they would start tacking on monthly fees for the standard CoD games. The next step for them is to require a monthly sub fee just to play CoD online.

    I am going to disagree with you on one thing though, I think Blizzard’s premium content costs are pricey. When I see stuff like a sparkle pony or server transfers which cost more than the monthly sub cost, I call that a rip off.

    But I’m with you, Kotick is a greedy bugger and doesn’t give a squat about gamers, just money. His fake ass grin is a mask.

    @Intruder313: I would be surprised if the single player campaign in MW3 is anything other than similar to what you described hehe. This is why I am finding it hard to even rent a CoD game.