Consumers are used to paying $60 each for videogames that run on consoles like the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Now the publisher behind the industry's biggest videogame franchiseâ€” "Call of Duty"â€”is about to find out whether it can get them to pay a monthly bill, too.
Activision Blizzard Inc. plans to launch an online service called Call of Duty Elite this fall that will work with the next major edition of the game, "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3," and future installments of the hyper-realistic combat-simulation game. In a move industry executives describe as a first, Activision plans to charge a monthly subscription fee for the service, which will provide extra content that isn't offered on game discs sold in stores, including downloadable map packs that give players new "Call of Duty" levels to play.
Activision executives said they haven't yet figured out how much to charge for the service, but they expect the cost to be less than fees for comparable online-entertainment services, such as a $7.99-a-month Netflix Inc. movie subscription. Portions of the service will be free, including features inspired by Facebook Inc. that will let "Call of Duty" players meet for online gun battles with others who share various affiliations and interests.