Rumors have been swirling about for several months now about some form of subscription-based Call of Duty service coming to Xbox Live and PlayStation Network at some point. The gist of the rumor was that Activision was looking for ways to charge you for playing Call of Duty — beyond the $60 you already paid for the game, of course. As it turns out, that’s only partly true.
The news on Call of Duty Elite, Activision’s web-based subscription service for Call of Duty, broke first in a story ran by WSJ. Contrary to what the initial rumors had us believe, Call of Duty Elite is more akin to Halo: Waypoint or even Bungie.net than it is anything else; Activision isn’t looking to charge you for multiplayer. The service is said to keep track of your stats in Call of Duty games utilizing the service, offering a thorough breakdown of your playstyle, most effective weapons, and so on.
The price has not been revealead and, if Activision is to be believed, hasn’t even been decided internally yet. What they’re apparently shooting for, however, is a ‘minimal’ monthly fee along the lines of what, for example, Netflix charges for their instant streaming-only service ($7.99).
One of the more interesting features of Elite is the service’s Group feature. Rather than being forced to participate in the game’s already established skill-based matchmaking system and being subjected to a torrent of profanities and slurs, you can instead opt to play against only those in a Group that you’ve joined. If you’ve joined a Group dedicated to your favorite movie on the service, for instance, you can choose to only play people also in that group. For the casual player intimidated by the more competitive matchmaking options, this concept could go a long way towards keeping that crowd interested in multiplayer in the long term.
Another interesting, competitive feature revealed today is the web service’s “Compete” section. Through Compete, you and your clan can arrange matches with other individuals and clans. Should you win the competition, you could earn things like trophies to be proudly displayed through your Call of Duty Elite stats page, and even one of those Black Ops edition Jeeps.
Most of the service still appears to be in fairly early development stages and is subject to change when it officially launches (no word on when that is, unfortunately), but what has been discussed so far actually sounds pretty neat. We still have no idea on just what exactly you’ll be paying for, but it is known that Call of Duty Elite won’t be closed for non-subscribers. In fact, Activision has already confirmed that stat tracking and Group features will be completely free for all.
If you’d like to know more about the service, head over to Joystiq’s preview here.