Activision has revealed the price it plans to charge for a new premium online Call of Duty-centric gaming service. But the question is — will gamers be willing to pay a $49.99 annual subscription for the service, on top of the $60 the game itself will cost them?
Call of Duty Elite — which was first revealed back in May — is an online community service based around the Call of Duty military shooter franchise that offers a range of social features and skills tracking, video sharing and multiplayer match-making. And it will come with both a free and a premium option — the premium option running $49.99 a year.
At the Call of Duty XP event for fans of the franchise this weekend, Activision unveiled more details about the service — details that make it clear how much it'll cost and what you'll get for your money. And you can now check out this comparison chart showing what Elite premium membership includes compared to the free membership.
The biggest premium bonus comes in the form of a whole lot of downloadable content. Activision promises 20 pieces of new DLC for your $50 — new multiplayer maps, missions, game modes and other items delivered on a monthly basis. And you get to keep the DLC even if your membership expires.
Beyond that, premium subscribers will have access to competitions that come with prizes, access to pro video guides for all the weapons and maps, as well as access to Elite TV.
Elite TV will include a video series called "n00b Tube," which will involve "Arrested Development" stars Will Arnett and Jason Bateman. It will also include a live-action series called "Friday Night Fights," produced by Hollywood bigwigs Ridley and Tony Scott and featuring real-life rivals getting together for multiplayer Call of Duty battles. And, according to the Elite website, there will also be a program called "Cocked Hammers," which sounds vaguely ... oh never mind.
So far, gamers, reviewers and analysts have had mixed reactions to the announced service. On the one hand, $50 a year is only $4.16 cents a month — and that doesn't seem like much for the most hardcore fans of the Call of Duty franchise who will be eager to get their hands on all of that downloadable content ahead of the crowds.
And as Gamasutra reports, investment firm Wedbush Securities believes that the Call of Duty Elite $50 membership plan will prove "very popular" with hardcore gamers. In fact, the Wedbush analysts believe that at least 1 million players will sign up for the premium Elite service by the end of the year, 3 million will subscribe by the end of 2012, and 5 million will join by the end of 2013.
But as game writer Ben Kuchera at Ars Technica points out, Elite will split "Modern Warfare 3" players into the haves and have-nots. He writes:
Since premium subscribers will be getting the maps and other content before the rest of the community is able to buy it, nonsubscribers are going to be walking into content that the hardcore players have been practicing and mastering for days, if not weeks. It's going to be a bloodbath. There will be no moments of learning the new maps and modes along with the rest of the community; you're going to be going up against pros who know all the good hiding spots and tactical positions from your very first session until your last. Unless, of course, you're willing to pay to get the content early.
Call of Duty Elite along with "Modern Warfare 3" launch Nov. 8 on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. While you're waiting — and trying to decide whether to drop that $50 on an Elite premium subscription — here's a new "Modern Warfare 3" multiplayer trailer to get your blood pumping.
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Winda Benedetti writes about games for msnbc.com. You can follow her tweets about games and other things here on Twitter or join her in the stream here on Google+ . And be sure to check out the In-Game Facebook page here.