Activision have come under fire recently concerning their announcement of Call of Duty ‘Elite’, a new subscription service that will see gamers paying a monthly fee for premium content that will “enhance” the CoD online experience. Many have felt that this is the straw that broke the camel's back for a company that has consistently wrung money from its fans in exchange for smatterings of new content, and many have threatened to vote with their feet by refusing to pick up Modern Warfare 3 when it hits store shelves in November.
So should we all bite the bullet and show Activision that we aren’t just all gullible walking dollar bills? Well, fortunately for you I’ve compiled a nice little ‘For & Against’ list to help you with that difficult decision.
FOR: Bobby Kotick is a Monster
When asked about the future of original and creative titles such as Brutal Legend in Activision’s sequel-heavy repertoire, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick was quoted as saying this:
“[They] don’t have the potential to be exploited every year on every platform with clear sequel potential and have the potential to become $100 million dollar franchises.”
Kudos for your honesty, Bob (can I call you Bob?), but did you really think that was going to rest well with the gaming community? You’ve essentially just flipped them off with one hand and pilfered through their wallets with the other. Whilst calling him a “monster” may be a bit of an overstatement, it’s undeniable that he’s the worst kind of businessman: a really good one.
AGAINST: Call of Duty is still really awesome
CoD has its fair share of haters who will deny most, if not all, of its awesome qualities, but can you think of another console game that has managed to keep us playing for so long? Hell, people even forge careers out of posting YouTube videos of themselves playing it online. It’s overrated, sure, but so were the f***ing Beatles. It doesn’t mean that it’s not great.
Boycotting Modern Warfare 3 would obviously mean that you wouldn’t get to play Modern Warfare 3. If you feel that vehemently angry with Activision that you’re cool with this, then I bid you good luck.
FOR: We’re one step closer to paying for online play
When CoD Elite was initially announced, gamers were fearful that it was going to be a pay-to-play service wherein they would have to hand over their cash in order to access the multiplayer component of the game. Luckily that isn’t the case (Elite is a free service, with a premium option available), but we’re not quite out of the clear just yet.
If Elite succeeds then it isn’t out of the realms of possibility that Activision will at least consider forcing this upon us. I know that it sounds improbable, but EA have already introduced the ‘Online Pass’ (with Ubisoft already following in their footsteps), so is it really that much of a stretch to imagine Call of Duty, the world’s most popular console video game, to take the idea even further? Granted, Activision is one of the few remaining industry giants that hasn't yet adopted a controversial 'Online Pass' system.
AGAINST: What games are we going to play with our friends?
It’s very rare that you’ll find a group of people with exactly the same taste in video games. Some may be grizzled fighting veterans tearing up the ranks in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, while others only turn on their Xbox for a couple of hours of drum solo’s on Rock Band. However, most will purchase the latest installment in the Call of Duty franchise regardless of their personal preferences.
The social aspect of CoD is a large part of what has kept people coming back for more: everybody else buys it, so you buy it. So if you don’t buy MW3, you’ll almost definitely be missing out on some good times with your friends. Ah, peer-pressure: the greatest form of marketing and the reason why I have over 700 Pokémon cards in my attics.
FOR: It’s basically Bungie.net
My largest complaint with CoD Elite is that it is quite an insult to our intelligence. Every one of its features, with a few minor exceptions, has already been used by Bungie.net for Halo: online stat-tracking, comprehensive player info, viewable and sharable gameplay footage – it’s all old news.
While Activision have tried to sugar-coat this glaringly obvious fact, it’s plain to see for anyone with half a brain cell and a passable knowledge of the Halo franchise that this is just an improved version of Bungie’s system, the only difference being that it’s not free if you want to take advantage of everything Elite will offer when Modern Warfare 3 releases in November.
AGAINST: It’s really quite pointless.
Look, I’m going to be blunt with you here: regardless of what decision you make on this whole boycotting MW3 business, it really doesn’t matter. The game is still going to sell a shit-ton of copies and cement the Modern Warfare series’ status as a global gaming phenomenon. Your money, even though Bobby Kotick would love it, would have no consequence on the future of the series if it remained in your wallet.
It’s always demoralising to think of yourself as nothing but a small speck of dirt on the chassis of the money-making machine, but when you take into account previous sales records of the CoD series and the exponential amount of hype and marketing power put behind MW3, it’s difficult to imagine it not flying off the shelves come November 8th.
Not purchasing MW3 would mean that you’d miss out on what will probably be a great game, which would be a shame. Hopefully the time will come when Activision, Kotick & co. stop treating their fans like walking credit cards, but as long as they keep making good games then we’ll keep buying them, regardless of how much we wince when doing so.