Analyst: Prepare Yourselves For A Pay-To-Play Call Of Duty

Now here’s a rumor that will stop many people in their tracks. An analyst at Wedbush Securities, “one of the largest securities firms and investment banks in the nation,” says that he’s “certain to [his] core” that Activision is planning a pay-to-play Call of Duty. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the sound of millions of gamers around the country flipping out. Picture an anime character with a giant teardrop running down his cheek.

Activision, in the same earnings call where it announced that the Guitar Hero franchise was as dead as disco, said that it had tapped Beachhead Studios to create “new, innovative Call of Duty content and services.” Such work will “enable tens of millions of players around the world to continue to enjoy the experience that Call of Duty offers.”

Call of Duty “services,” and “new [and] innovative” ones at that? Sounds an awful lot like Activision is preparing for at least some form of pay-to-play.

I suppose Activision could take this in a few different ways. One, it could just outright charge people to play the games, which, eh, I’d doubt. Two, it could follow the hardly-innovative-at-this-point tract of delivering a free-to-play online multi-player game (or mode) while tacking on additional, “premium” content, content that you’d have to pay for.

Maybe there’s a level cap, a cap that can only be removed by paying, say, $5 per month? Maybe premium users—and you know they’d give these users a silly name like “officers,” referring to free users as mere “enlisted men”—will have access to “über-weapons” like tactical nukes and whatnot? Free maps delivered at regular intervals, etc.

Now the question to ask you guys: will this fly? How many of you are prepared to pay something like $5 per month for the privilege of playing Call of Duty? I’m sure Activision has worked it out where they only need, who knows, 10 percent of its existing playerbase to become premium members in order for this to work, but man, I fear for Activision if this doesn’t work out. What do they have beyond Call of Duty? How much harder can they afford to lean on World of Warcraft?

But that’s for another day. Today’s question is all about how big a success (or failure) would a pay-to-play Call of Duty be?