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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rumor of the Week: Call of Duty Gets A Subscription Fee?

Posted by Earnest "Nex" Cavalli on Tue, Sep 21, 2010 at 1:00 PM

Important Disclaimer: Before you go any further, please keep in mind that this information is only a rumor. It does come from some rather solid sources who could possibly be in the know if such a thing were true, but until I get confirmation from certain parties, this remains nothing more than a rumor.

So why toss this out there? Because if true this would be one of the biggest news stories of the year, and even if it turns out to be nothing more than rumor, it should spawn some very spirited discussion on the state of the games industry, the way certain companies operate and the direction the hobby is headed as a whole.

I can't see a helicopter gunship without hearing Creedence Clearwater Revival's
  • Activision
  • I can't see a helicopter gunship without hearing Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son." Thanks a lot Vietnam!

Over the last few days word has been circulating that Activision (publisher of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Guitar Hero, and 90 percent of the games on store shelves that are not published by EA) is planning to set up a subscription system for the Call of Duty series' online multiplayer component.

Hit the jump for very few details and tons of questions.

Details are scarce (given that this is, once again, a rumor), but the general consensus seems to be that gamers interested in playing online multiplayer matches would have to pay a weekly/monthly/yearly fee of an unknown amount to play in the same online matches that they can currently enjoy in games like the series' most recent sequel Modern Warfare 2, free of charge.

Presumably this subscription fee would be in addition to the cost of the actual game itself, as well as any fees incurred by your being online, including the Xbox Live subscription fee and the bill sent to you by your Internet Service Provider.

... and I can't see a soldier hiding behind a tree, being hunted by other soldiers in full snowfield camouflage without hearing The Buggles
  • Activision
  • ... and I can't see a soldier hiding behind a tree, being hunted by other soldiers in full snowfield camouflage without hearing The Buggles "Video Killed The Radio Star." (I don't really have an explanation for that one.)

While I want to yet again point out that this rumor has yet to be proven true or false, I would also point out that Activision is no stranger to just how profitable the subscription system can be. After all, the company is now known as Activision Blizzard, a merger that occurred largely because Activision realized how insanely profitable Blizzard's World of Warcraft is. While the subscription service on that game is de rigueur for titles within the MMORPG genre, the Call of Duty series has been moving closer and closer to incorporating elements lifted from the roleplaying game genre into its online play, including experience points gained over time and special equipment that is truly only available to those who spend hours playing the game.

Thus, the only real question left is whether or not you would pay a subscription fee to use the online component of the next Call of Duty game? If not, why? What would Activsion have to do to make you change your answer to a "yes?"

If you're on the opposite side of the aisle, why would you drop the extra $5 or $10 per month to play Call of Duty online? Do you love the series that much? Do you want to support Activison as a publisher or Treyarch (or whoever continues developing the series) as a developer?

Uh, Im drawing a blank here. Tubthumping, maybe? Then again, that damn song is pretty much always stuck in my head.
  • Activision
  • Uh, I'm drawing a blank here. "Tubthumping," maybe? Then again, that damn song is pretty much always stuck in my head.

Personally, I wouldn't pay the subscription, but that has more to do with the fact that I simply don't play online first person shooters much anymore, and when I do, I stick to Team Fortress 2 and the rare Counter-Strike match on Steam OS X. I play maybe 20 hours of TF2 per year, so I simply couldn't justify paying a subscription fee for any online shooter.

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