At least one analyst thinks Activision's persistent online model may have a handful of hardcore Call of Duty players switching sides.
The biggest battle brewing this holiday season is the high-profile showdown between EA's Battlefield 3 and Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 - a contest which EA has consistently hyped, despite developer DICE's attempts to underplay the competition. There's no question that Call of Duty has the edge when it comes to sales and popularity, but analyst Michael Pachter thinks that Activision might be inadvertently helping the competition.
Rather, that's to say that the outspoken analyst thinks that the new Call of Duty Elite online service may cause heretofore-loyal players to switch sides, particularly if Battlefield 3 pulls glowing review scores. "[We] think that Activision's introduction of Call of Duty Elite (its premium subscription service) could cause a small number of loyal Call of Duty players to defect to EA's game," he wrote in his latest research note.
Presumably this "defection" would come as a result of COD players feeling that their experience is now lessened because they aren't paying for Elite's premium features. This, however, is a perception that Activision has taken great effort to combat - the official FAQ starts off with a prominent assurance that Elite won't be taking anything away, even from those who don't pay a dime.
Pachter thinks that Battlefield 3 could sell an impressive 6.5 million units globally, which would certainly be a win for EA financially. However - a small number of defections or not - that number pales when set against the 20+ million sales that Modern Warfare 3 could pull in given the series' popularity and highly active community.
Of course, one could imagine that the small number of defectors might be evened out by any losses incurred from the game not being available via Steam.