Activision may not “require” people to pay for multiplayer action in Call of Duty but industry analyst Michael Pachter remains convinced that the company is feeling around for a way to make it an attractive option.
If ever there was a cash cow waiting to be milked, it’s Call of Duty multiplayer. Figuring out how to turn all those millions of Modern Warriors into a paying audience without sparking a revolt the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the New Coke Uprising of ’85 is one of gaming’s Holy Grails and while Activision (and Infinity Ward, and Treyarch) insist that they have no such designs, Pachter thinks they might not be telling the whole, entire truth.
“I don’t want to call out any of the blog posts or tweets or statements to IGN as untruthful,” Pachter told GamesIndustry. “Rather, I think that they probably are true: Activision won’t require people to play for multiplayer, but I think that they will find a way to offer a premium experience for a fee, whether that takes the form of subscription, pay-as-you-go, microtransactions for virtual goods, tournament fees or some combination.”
“In my view, Activision is motivated to charge for multiplayer, has a window of opportunity to do so, and can extract greater profits if it imposes a charge,” he continued. “It makes logical sense (to me at least) that given their motivation and opportunity, coupled with their past behavior, they will charge in the future. Call of Duty is the most likely candidate due to the large number of users.”
It’s not at all beyond the realm of possibility: Leave the multiplayer component more or less untouched, throw in a few premium extras like special weapons, uniforms, maps and the like, and then stand back and wait for the money train to pull in. Pachter acknowledged that some gamers would “revolt” but said the majority will get in line as long as Activision stays true to its word and doesn’t make payments mandatory.
“I think that this is the most fair way to approach extracting value,” he said, “and yes, I think it will be successful.”