Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Can Activision Turn an FPS into a Subscription Game?

Interesting news on the wires that Activision want to introduce a monthly subscription service called "Call of Duty Elite" to their hugely successful first person shooter franchise. Apparently the subscription will be optional which begs the question as to what elite players will get that non payers don't. So far I haven't seen any mention of game-play advantages, the focus seems to be on added value features like social networking and statistics. Will that be enough to entice players to open their wallets I wonder?

With millions of players online playing Call of Duty games on a daily basis I can see the $ signs in Activision's eyes at the idea of getting recurring subscription fees but I can't help feeling they are ignoring the trend. In the mmorpg world where subscriptions were once commonplace most games are moving towards a free to play with cash shop model. Of course the most successful mmorpg "World of Warcraft" is still raking in the subscriptions and significantly is also owned by Activision.

Adding subs to a game genre where customers never had to pay before does seem like a much riskier model to me however. Call of Duty is probably the only game that is big enough to have any hope of pulling it but my gut feeling is that they would have been far better to go with a cash shop model such as the one Valve has added to Team Fortress 2.

3 comments:

Scopique said...

A subset of players will totally go for this: the ones who obsess over their in-game abilities, and stats-mongers.

While there IS overlap between CoD and MMO players, certainly, I think that there's probably more CoD players who have never played an MMO, and who have no idea what it's like to pay a monthly fee to play. They might be turned off by this.

Also, with XBL costing a per-year fee, which a lot of players despise, will being asked to pay ADDITIONAL fees turn them off the CoD franchise? Maybe just fewer Xbox players opting into the service as opposed to PS3 players. Or maybe the opposite: Since Xbox players are USED to paying for their online fees and PS3 players are not, it might work in Xbox's favor.

Obviously, a lot to wait and see about.

mbp said...

Hi Scopique

Yes I can see this working to cream a few extra dollars off the most committed players but I cannot see it causing a fundamental shift of the business model for the majority of players.

Indeed I bet that the majority of people who buy a game like Modern Warfare only play it for a few weeks before moving on to other games.

Tesh said...

A thought... maybe this is a stab at a "gated community" to reduce the chaff from the notorious XBox Live community?