Call of Duty: Elite First Look Preview

We put down our rifle and dig out the calculator for our first look at Call of Duty's new social subscription service.

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Activision Blizzard's other major breadwinner in the family, World of Warcraft, has proven that to be successful in the extremely competitive gaming landscape, creating a vibrant, fun world isn't enough anymore. To keep players engaged, they need to be immersed not only in the content within the artificial world, but also in talking about it with the friends they make and thinking about their virtual pastime long after the console or PC has powered down. With this in mind, Activision recently gave us a sneak peek at the Call of Duty: Elite service that it hopes will keep shooter fans coming back for more games and interacting with other like-minded players.

Our presentation began with some impressive stats: globally, more than 30 million people have played Call of Duty multiplayer matches in the last year, 20 million players continue to play each month, and 7 million log on to cap each other each day. However, as a result of the franchise's yearly release schedule, player fragmentation means that they're not all playing the same game, let alone conversing with each other in the same space. With this in mind, Activision hopes that its Elite service (formally code-named Project Beachhead) will create a "connected service" that will "enrich the multiplayer experience."

Marketing mumbo jumbo aside, what is Call of Duty: Elite, and how does it work? Great question from you there in the back--let us elaborate further. Elite is designed to create a single, portable profile that spans across COD games, moving seamlessly when a new title is released and giving you access to a huge amount of player data for you and your friends, as well as for total strangers. Unfortunately for those of you (and there are plenty) still actively playing older games like Modern Warfare 2, Elite will only support Black Ops and future titles, with Modern Warfare 3 being the first game to be built from the ground up to include Elite functionality.

Activision is working hard to ensure that no matter where you are, you'll have access to your stats--they'll be available through the game's multiplayer mode, accessible online with a Web browser, and (though we didn't see it in action) an iPhone app. The service will be split into three major elements: Connect, Compare, and Improve. Connect will allow you to find friends and keep track of them through a new grouping system. Searching for groups in your areas of interest (in our demo, photography) would return all available joinable groups that you could opt to become a part of. If a group doesn't already exist, one will be automatically created, and you'll become a member. Activision hopes that it will bring together people with similar interests, and eventually feed back into the game, allowing them to foster competitive leagues and impromptu battle groups, such as fans of one football team taking on another.

The Career category works like an extended version of the Combat Record found in Black Ops and provides a breakdown on your kills and deaths, your proficiency with individual weapons, and top-down heat-maps for each environment. Leaderboards can be filtered to show your mettle in the larger COD community, or boiled down to compare against only your friends' records.

Compare and Improve are the two new features we can see being most useful to players. Improve acts like a personalised COD trainer, giving expert hints and tips on each map, weapon loadout, perks, and kill streaks. It lists spawn points, shows the most effective weapon combinations for maps, and opens up potential for plenty of theory-crafters to compare weapon damage breakdowns and kit effectiveness. How much the coaching will improve each player's game remains to be seen, but it never hurts to get a few pointers from the pros.

From what we've seen so far, grouping could be laying the path for more serious competitive play in the future. As it stands, the current system will allow players to enter Activision-sponsored events such as screenshot competitions. Prizes will include a mixture of digital items, like emblems and medals, and real-world tangible goods like Call of Duty belt buckles, iPads, and (at least for North America) a customised Jeep. Read our Q&A with Chacko Sonny for details on how regional competitions will work.

So, how much would you expect to pay for this new suite of tools and data? Well… we don't know, either. While Activision has said that Connect, Compare, and Improve features will all be available free to current players (multiplayer games will also remain free), there will be a premium subscription available that will include the various DLC drops that are released for each game. All we know so far is that according to the publisher, it will cost "less than any comparable online gaming or entertainment service."

From our time using the system, the wealth of information on tap is deep, the interface is easy to use--if a little daunting for first-timers facing waves of info--and the social aspects will help players expand their circles. We'll be interested to see how the system fares once players begin tracking and participating in a large number of groups, how well regionalisation of competitions will be handled, and whether the stigma that comes with subscription pushes away potential users. Call of Duty: Elite will be available for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC owners later this year. Stay tuned for more details in the coming months.

Discussion

168 comments
dragonhuman40
dragonhuman40

@LtReviews "Well, I am sure this whole stat-tracking and social-networking thing is found NOWHERE else for free (well, except with Starcraft, Bungie games, and the entire Steam community)." Your point? No, I don't buy all the map packs. Bought 1 map pack back in MW2 to play with some friends and I ended up deleting it because it sucked so much. I haven't bought, nor plan on buying a single map pack for CoD ever again. I was only pointing out that people are blindly hating Activision without giving it some thought. That's not to say that Activision doesn't deserve a lot of hate. But not for this. We can complain that this feature is a little late, but it's free, and if you plan on buying all the terrible maps, it's $10 cheaper in the end through Elite (assuming 4 map packs). So yeah, "they're evil, but this time they're being good!" is actually pretty accurate. I mean the maps aren't "good" in any way shape or form at that price point, but Elite is.

maenam
maenam

It is expensive maybe a con, but lets face it... we are still going to buy it as it gives you free dlc and MW3 will be a hell of a lot better than any other video game on the market, im bored of gears3 already and spanked black ops for 15th prestige and 1700g, so like an estimated 20million others i am counting down the days til 8th november.

8Dark8Wolf8
8Dark8Wolf8

Wouldnt be easier if you Rent the stats tracker from any Battlefield saga and then U dont have to charge any additional features? COD is as dead as POP...

Galvex
Galvex

They want us to talk about the game even outside...lol! Well you just made it activision! Everyone will remember and talk about it for ages...How suckers and rip offs you are,that is....

LtReviews
LtReviews

@xMarex Nice try at character assessment- but I don't pay for DLC. I take issue with any assertion that Activision making a service that has free features, while charging for specific features, classifies as philanthropy- or anything that we should be thanking them for.

xMarex
xMarex

@LtReviews that made so little sense and was so irrelevant to what @dragonhuman40 said that I think you're just being an **hole because you're upset about paying for DLC.

darthtman
darthtman

@ dragon human40 THAT IS THE BEST POST EVER!!! Thank you dragon. We need more people like you in this world!!! EVERYONE READ HIS POST!!!!

nyran125
nyran125

so The Witcher 2 can sell 400'000 copies of thier games NOT 20 million and they give us DLC for free? Valve completely opens their whole source engine up for the world to use for free to make maps and user content. So if CDProject and Battlefield and Counter strike has NON stop free maps all day, then i really dont see Activisions excuse for not offering free maps and mods adn user content in thier games. Youd have to be mad to pay for this Subscription service rubbish.

siarhei
siarhei

COD players making real-world friends while playing? I am sure that me running around the map and shooting at a guy will help us become good friends in the future (sarcasm). Of all the games I can think of, COD has the least chances to serve as a social connector. Heck, WoW is a social game by comparison. So, please Activision, stop playing online matchmaker and make good games instead. For social games, we have facebook, thank you very much.

LtReviews
LtReviews

@dragonhuman40 Oh, hi Mr Kotick! I didn't know you had a gamespot profile. Well, I am sure this whole stat-tracking and social-networking thing is found NOWHERE else for free (well, except with Starcraft, Bungie games, and the entire Steam community). It seems they can do this, because their customers enable them. They overprice their dlc, because people buy them. And I'm going to take a wild guess and say you purchased at least one of those overpriced map packs. Anyone who has anything even remotely good to say about activision probably bought them all. Anyway, there's enough people to buy this overpriced garbage for Activision to see benefit in doing so over and over again. If people didn't buy it so blindly, Activision would be forced to lower the price, or offer it for free, in order to encourage more sales of the games. They would still be making money, but the balance between the customer and the provider wouldn't be tipped the way it is now. For what reason are you "not pro-activision" than? If you realize like the rest of us, Activision takes advantage of CoD's ability to sell massively, and subsequently charge massively- than why would this be any different? Its like "yeah, they're evil, but this time they're being good!"

UnSe3N
UnSe3N

If you have to have this subscription to get the new maps then I probably won't buy this game.

dragonhuman40
dragonhuman40

Oh my god, people. It said that Connect, Compare, and Improve is going to be FREE. Did you not read the article? They're GIVING us the stats, groups and all that for free. The only features that are going to cost anything is DLC, which already costs money anyway, and other unannounced features. They're not really being cheap at all. We should be thanking them *GASP!* for what sounds like a great free addition to our experience. I'm not pro-Activision or anything, in fact I think their DLC is overpriced, but we should give thanks when thanks is due.

Kooken58
Kooken58

@vivalabuck92 there are other games as well that offer this without charge. Many PC games already come with this stuff for free...or there are mods and community sites out there that offer it for free.

vivalabuck92
vivalabuck92

@ainsaworth Actually Bungie does the exact same thing. They give the stats for free and the extra privileges cost extra through Bungie Pro.

Edged_out
Edged_out

Have now lost intrest in MW£, i mean MW3, sorry about the mistake its an easy one to make ;¬)

HardWired94
HardWired94

Whoever is daft enough to pay for this rubbish didnt deserve the money in the first place mind you, you could say the same for any CoD in recent years

tonycheba
tonycheba

wow.......lol this is so stupid, Im pretty sure Bungie does the same for free and I bet after Activision releases this crappy tool that you have to pay for Bungie and a bunch of others will still run better. I enjoy COD but this is ridiculous, I dont know why anyone would pay for this crap. phhh not impressed.

sezercelim
sezercelim

A basket ball team in a first-person shooter game? (look at pic. nr. 2) haha. who will win the basket ball team or the warriors:P well, thew are trying new things i guess :)

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

Looks ambitious though, but on the other hand I do not want pay any subscriptions for it. :P ............................................................................................................ I'll stick with Blizzard's Battle.net, they'll add Diablo III and Heart Of The Swarms soon, and FREE access multiplayer.

ainsaworth
ainsaworth

Pay? Pay? Bungie done ask you to pay why the hell should we pay Activision, penny robbing Barstools.

night-dreamers
night-dreamers

This was unexpected from Activision!!! not really.

Thehobb
Thehobb

pay more for what? a social network?.... if this is going to be the future of COD, i guess i'll have to stick to Battlefield. Thanks Activision, but then again... the facebook generation (FG: means people who cannot live their live without a Facebook account) wants to take over everything, so they might do some money with this... i HATE Social networks, why can they make friends the old fashion way??

dark_rising76
dark_rising76

I'll just stick to Crysis 2, Rage and maybe Battlefield 3 this year.

Bradicus007
Bradicus007

Well if we have to pay for it they can keep it... The cost of gaming is expensive enough as it is. I will never pay for the pleasure of playing a game online above what I already pay for the cost of the game. and I don't care how "immersive" the experience or environment. Enough is enough... It's a game and if we as gamers don't draw a line in the sand then this will be the future of gaming everywhere. I don't know about you but "pay to play" isn't a future I am interested in.

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

@gavin78 They're drawing you in man! Look away from the light!! They may be offering 'prizes' to winners. But you'll be paying for them.. Activision have shed-loads of money, they should just offer prizes regardless. After all you will have spent god knows how much on the game already.

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

Yeah this totally just looks like a load of balls. Even worse to think people will actually pay for this.. Ah well! It's their own daft decision making.

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

@warhawk-smakaho Nice to see a fellow fan on here!! Classy name by the way.. smakaho.. Haha. Love it.

James9002uk
James9002uk

Just another way to milk your money, no thank you.... FYI your putting me off buying MW3 now!!

wi88le
wi88le

Do we not get this from Bungie/Halo free of charge already? BF3 please!

TonnFool23
TonnFool23

@warhawk-smakaho Yes and that game is called "Battlefield 3".

warhawk-smakaho
warhawk-smakaho

we need a game to come out that'll get people away from call of duty... It hurts me watching people waste their monies on this.

Crunk_Dog
Crunk_Dog

Contrary to most, I don't see a problem with this. For a long while now I've noted the lack of competitive gaming for consoles and this may just be the trigger to a revolution. If it proves to be successful, other developers are sure to follow the trend as well. I've also regared COD lately as becoming rather mindless, but if heat-maps, weapon-stat comparrision and other features designed to cause the game to be approoached from a more strategic angle, kudos to the developer! If COD becomes strategic and competitive for consoles, the community's are bound to improve for the style of gaming you like and therefore a better gaming experience will be created. I can see why some don't see a point in this but its not a bad idea and if implemented well, maybe competitive scenes will come to consoles to stay as opposed to occasional tournaments that require complex comstruction. Also, whilst I dislike money grabbing schemes in games such as in-game items purchased with real money, Activision says it will be free unless people want a 'premium subscription' allowing for the downloads of all DLC's. Therefore you don't have to pay if you don't want to, sort of like Playstation Plus, and if you are a person who is bound to get the DLC's anyway, what does it matter the way you payed to get them? Also, Hot Pursuit had Autolog and people loved that, so really, once these systems are boiled down to their fundamental ideas, what's the difference and isn't it all in the name of a better gaming experience?

ven0m285
ven0m285

jesus christ.. this is gonna brainwash people

strothers101
strothers101

This sucks more than anything that has ever sucked before.

illage2
illage2

This is a joke. Free players are going to get pushed aside now. Free players can't access unlock-able weapons, etc. "Didn't you read the article" Yes I did, as soon as Activsion rake the money in expect the free players to go play a different game, this happens all the time. Xbox users will be hit the hardest by this, since they have to pay to play online and now have to pay to unlock new weapons etc. Again to me this is a waste of time. I can guess that someone who is too biased will obviously try and "own" me. Go ahead, at least I am not biased, and I know there are far better games to play than just CoD all the time.

crocmachine
crocmachine

How's this gonna do anything for the game? If anything they're just gonna make you spend more

Skull-Fire
Skull-Fire

@Sgthombre This isn't just exclusive to MW3, it's for Black Ops as well.

Kendojin
Kendojin

From the sounds of it, it's more or less Bungie.net's stat tracking system with some added features...yay...

---Cipher---
---Cipher---

Sweet, now I can pay to still have no one talk to, play a recycled game, AND look at sweet charts. But don't worry, now I get the DLC for free with monthly fees... Am I missing something here?

Sgthombre
Sgthombre

So... is this supposed to make we want MW3? I'm happy to keep playing MW2 and Black Ops. I don't need a COD:Facebook.

Samox
Samox

@MW2ismygame I sure as **** didn't say anything about COD being realistic, bud. I'm just saying, people who claim to like BF more than COD because it's "more realistic" need to get their heads examined. There is nothing realistic about either game. BF has bulletdrop... that's nice. You can also run up to a tank with a power drill and repair it to factory new in about 15 seconds; pretty realistic. And for the record, I enjoy BFBC2 more than I do MW2/Blops.

SgtStrungOut
SgtStrungOut

I have awesome stats BUT they would be much greater if I used the noob friendly guns, but NEVER I like using all the guns. That is how great I am.

gavin78
gavin78

This will be great for players who have a job, like to play competitively and who are stats men. It's gonna be so great to play in knock out style competitions and to be given a meaningful ranking against other players. A lot better than just playing one off matches, leveling up and focussing on KDR. Having a controlled database like the COD Elite will allow Activision to offer prizes to competition winners and stop hackers/ boosters, etc. Activision could also filter competitions based on time played or level - the possibilities are endless. E.g. 12 players agree on a time to play a final match with a $500 cash prize (after numerous playoff rounds), so you know after work on Tuesday to log on to play CoD for a chance at the cash ;-)

k2theswiss
k2theswiss

is it me or what that those graphs look very similar to bungie online with halo?

jasonzilla11
jasonzilla11

Should've been named "Call of Duty: We're Greedy A-Holes."

mobius-12
mobius-12

HAHAHA...why the hell would someone pay for that? I'll still get MW3, but if they make it to where you have to pay to play online, then deal is off, GG

MW2ismygame
MW2ismygame

@Samox oh you are so right :roll: because cod has the correct names of guns, lets you fall 500 feet and let you live, lets you bing a knife to a gunfight and win and lets you lunge across the map with it to and who forgot about the hacks which you could do in cod. you are dead wrong dude because BATTLEFIELD>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>cod and activision after the $15 map packs like hell you will get my money anymore thats why dice is better they are not ungreatful greedy bumbs like you activision

73X
73X

It's as if they need more money.