A smattering of developers across the first-person shooter spectrum have come out saying that a subscription-based Call of Duty would be acceptable, if justified.
Industry veterans agree: Call of Duty subscriptions would be a good thing. But wait, don’t explode just yet, because they’re mostly referring to a separate and totally unique Call of Duty title that would be infused with MMOG-like features or a microtransaction-based game.
Bobby Kotick came out saying that he’d like to combine the Call of Duty franchise with subscriptions somehow and as soon as possible back in June, to much disgruntlement of players that assumed he would attach subscriptions to console-based multiplayer. Multiple employees at Activision have since said that they’ll never do that. Gamasutra interviewed various developers on the topic, and most of them agreed that a Call of Duty that would attract monthly subscribers would be great, though Activision charging simply for multiplayer would be a huge mistake.
Alan Wilson, VP of Killing Floor developer Tripwire Interactive said that such a game would have to offer “persistent worlds, ever-expanding gameplay, [and] giant servers,” and that charging for multiplayer alone “would make me feel like I have paid the money to buy a new car and then I have to pay Ford to be allowed to drive it every day too.” Marek Spanel of ArmA developer Bohemia Interactive echoed Wilson’s sentiment, saying his company would only implement subscriptions if “the value offered to [players] is adequate.”
Mark Long of Zombie Studios, known for Blacklight: Tango Down, goes a step further and seems voracious for a new Call of Duty MMOG-style game, saying: “I know I’ll get flamed for this, but I’m going defend Bobby Kotick here. … Merging [business models of Call of Duty and World of Warcraft] makes a ton of sense when the vast majority of Call of Duty players are playing online. How is the fanbase going to respond? If there was an MMOFPS version of Call of Duty with World of Warcraft-quality RPG elements under the hood, I’d bet it would be the biggest game in history. I’d play it. I’d play the fuck out it.”
Quake Live was recently forced to offer a subscription plan to become sustainable, and id’s Steve nix says “new revenue models will continue to emerge” for shooters. Id’s subscription plans offer access to new maps and other abilities such as setting up servers and creating clans.
What most people need to understand about the situation is that Activision isn’t going to charge people to play Call of Duty through an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3… ahem… most likely. What it will do, if anything, is figure out a way to get players to pay a subscription or to engage in microtransactions for extra content to monetize the series even further, which ideally would not become a slippery slope. And, as Mark Long says, a World of Call of Duty would probably be something worth paying $15 a month for.