Call of Duty Elite Service Announced. Multiplayer Remains Free.

Activision today announced their latest plans for one of the biggest names in gaming: Call of Duty. The shooter series is already notorious for its pricing tactics with Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops retailing at a higher price than most other games, along with map packs usually costing more than other packs on the market.

Activision have announced another way to get more money out of gamers, but it’s not quite as bad as some feared: multiplayer will still be free.

The new “Service” is called Elite and will offer some key components of its service for free to gamers, but will also offer a Premium Membership.

“The average Call of Duty player spends 58 minutes per day playing multiplayer. That is more than the average Facebook user spends per day on Facebook. And yet, right now, there are very few tools to unite and super charge that social community,” said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing. “Whether it’s allowing you to connect with your friends, or people of a similar skill level, people who live in your city, people who share your favourite passions, join competitive clans or social groups, or upload, view and comment on the incredible mass of player-generated content, or watch and comment on exclusive created content, Call of Duty Elite will give people more ways to connect with fellow players than ever before. Elite will also allow players of every level to improve their game with an intuitive suite of tools, and compete in tournaments for both real and virtual prizes.”

Elite is to be a website, mobile, console and in-game based service, as this statement from the Press Release  confirms:  “The service will be accessible on a number of platforms – via web browsers, mobile devices, through game consoles and within the game interface itself – so that players can connect with Call of Duty Elite whenever and wherever they want.”

The new Elite service is aiming to deliver in three key areas:

Connect: the new service promises to create a better Call of Duty community by turning into a Social Network of sorts. It will let you play against players of a similar skill level, or with similar interests, as well join groups and clans. It will also let you check out the performance and activity of your entire network. From what has been stated it doesn’t sound that amazing, but the Need for Speed games have shown what can be done in this area.

Compete: Elite will deliver a constant stream of tournaments and competitions for you to enter and compete in, all based on your own skill level. They also promise prizes for these tournament, both in-game and out of game.

Improve: Elite will be “like having a personal online coach. It provides players with a dynamic strategy guide that tracks their statistics and performances down to the most minute details.” It will also keep a record of your performance in all future ( no past games will count) Call of Duty games. A bit like Halo Waypoint, then.

Call of Duty Elite has been tailored for Call of Duty’s diverse base of players – hardcore gamers, casual weekend warriors and even beginners,” added Hirshberg.  “Over 7 million gamers play Call of Duty online each day logging hundreds of hours of multiplayer per player per year.  Of course, the out of the box Call of Duty multiplayer experience that gamers have come to love and expect will continue as is.  However, for those players looking for more, Call of Duty Elite will supercharge their experience.”

Activision have stated that many of Elites key features will be available to Call of Duty players for free, but no further details on which features were mentioned, however speculation would suggest  that the connection and competition aspects would be available for free.

For those wanting a little more there will be a Premium Membership available, but no pricing details were mentioned. The Premium Membership will offer “a wide range of state-of-the-art services, exclusive entertainment programming and all-inclusive game content for less than the cost of any comparable online entertainment service currently in the market. ” This could be taken to mean that Premium members would receive map packs at no extra cost, such as the service offered by Bad Company 2’s VIP pass. However, nothing was confirmed.

The ne Elite service will be fully integrated into Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and will launch alongside the game. If you can’t wait that long, a Beta of the service will be made available to the public in the summer for Call of Duty: Black Ops.

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