There’s a truth written in the fundamental nature of subscription models for games nowadays – one that a lot of people don’t recognize. The fact that these models demand payment for the rightful experience that once was available without the need of subscription makes them malicious and controversial, not to mention an entirely business-oriented and consumer-tricking strategy to unfairly earn money.
Call of Duty: Elite is a controversial product that may or may not fall into this category, depending on how you look at it. It’s an online service that looks appreciable at first – but take a look at the subscription fee, along with what it has to offer, and a whole new image arises.
Why? Well, firstly because it offers stuff that really isn’t worth $49.99, and secondly, it greatly changes a conventional clean-and-simple first-person shooter experience into a World of Warcraft money-hungry one.
This aspect of leeching from people without giving them what they deserve is becoming a common practice in video games. But stating the current situation isn’t what I’m here for; I’m here to ask the question: What impact does this have on the Call of Duty series, one of the most successful gaming franchise at the moment.
Everybody knows that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is facing tough competition from DICE’s Battlefield 3. The folks at DICE and EA haven’t been shy about showing their confidence in Battlefield 3, and how they expect it to out-smart Modern Warfare 3 in every way possible.
It’s obvious that MW3 has a strong fan-base due to the reputation of the Call of Duty series. But what is concerning is that the things that made Call of Duty famous are actually slowly dissipating from the series. The simple and tweak-able multiplayer system is one of the major concerns, particularly for competitive gamers, and though MW3 promises dedicated servers, it also has Call of Duty: Elite managing the game’s multiplayer.
Battlefield 3, on the other hand, is working things differently. They’ve implemented the Battelog, a convenient and non money-biased way of managing your online account. DICE itself believes it’s a much more efficient and honest service than Elite.
In an interview with The Official Xbox Magazine, Battlefield 3’s executive producer Patrick Bach had this to say:
“I think there’s room for products like it, for instance the freemium model is quite popular and apparently does work – simply because if you have enough people playing it some people will pay extra – but forcing people to pay for it will actually lock out more people. I’d rather sell people something new like Bad Company 2: Vietnam, where you can see an actual value in it and make that individual choice – but I don’t believe in milking people without giving them something back. With a shooter like this, it’s not like it’s World of Warcraft – it’s something quite different.”
” I honestly think that if you weren’t doing it to make more money, you wouldn’t do it. You wouldn’t be planning on giving away more than you did before, and you’re certainly not planning on giving away more than people are paying for. I still think that if you can make money from selling boxed products – you should do that.”
Bach also talked about how DICE plans to ‘alter’ and ‘enhance’ the Battelog as time goes on, taking feedback from players and using it to improve the experience. However, it was clearly depicted that there is no plan whatsoever of including paid-subscription options with premium content.
“If we had to pay a team of 50 people to spend six months building it then we’d need to make the money from somewhere, but looking at it right now we’re not planning on doing that. We’re hoping that Battlefield 3 will be successful enough to pay for the future of Battlefield – and this is the future of Battlefield.”
These aspects of Battlefield 3 are looking positive, and will ensure a comfortable and rightful multiplayer experience. As far as Modern Warfare 3 is concerned, I’m really excited about the game itself, but the Elite service bugs me, and I’m definitely not the only one who feels that way.