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Call of Duty Elite-like services are "becoming a necessity"

Call of Duty Elite-like services are "becoming a necessity"

Mon 30 Apr 2012 8:57pm GMT / 4:57pm EDT / 1:57pm PDT
BusinessOnline

Jamie Berger, VP of Digital at Activision, talks about the growth of Call of Duty Elite

Activision Blizzard

Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision Blizzard, Inc. is a worldwide pure-play online...

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Call of Duty Elite certainly had its share of stumbles out of the gate last year (as noted by Activision Publishing boss Eric Hirshberg) but the company has gone on to provide a fairly successful social service (over 1.5 million paying subscribers) for fans of the blockbuster franchise. According to Jamie Berger, VP of Digital at Activision, Elite-like services are becoming a necessary component of big games.

"I do believe services like this are going to become a necessity for real franchises that are going to be day in and day out. The world is changing, consumer behavior is changing. Social networks and the always-on connectivity of any device are changing the ways people behave," Berger told GamesIndustry International. "They want to stay engaged with things in ways that couldn't even happen five years ago. I think as a game publisher and developer you have to get ahead of that."

He continued, "You have to be able to engage your consumers wherever they want to engage with you in lots of different and unique ways. You have to provide them social experiences that add to the game."

Indeed, competitors have been watching Elite closely, and it's certainly possible that Activision rival EA could look to create a similar service for a top property like Battlefield in the future.

"When we're talking two years from now... we're going to look at Elite and go 'wow, that has no resemblance to what it was at launch'"

EA COO Peter Moore told us back in February, "Call of Duty Elite... the numbers Activision have talked about, they've done a great job. It's incumbent upon us, whether we do that or do something one step ahead, I think the digital strategy that we're executing against right now - a billion dollars on a trailing 12-month basis - shows that we're doing some good things as well."

Berger, of course, wasn't about to comment on what Activision's competitors might do, but for Elite, he believes the Beachhead studio is only getting warmed up. Berger fully expects the service to continuously evolve and improve, similar to Xbox Live.

1

Comedian Rob Riggle helps promote Elite

"If you look at Xbox Live now and look at Xbox Live four years ago, it's night and day. In a way, you never noticed it because it kept happening slowly. Then the additive effect of all that hard work and all that focus is something that is dramatically more valuable and better for the consumer at launch. It will be no different for us, when we're talking two years from now... we're going to look at Elite and go 'wow, that has no resemblance to what it was at launch.' In lots of ways I can't predict because of that continuous investment. That's what we want; we want something that over time players see the value that keeps getting better and better and better," Berger said.

"They will keep seeing the money that they invest in the services as a premium member reinvested in the service to make it better and better. I think that's the sign of a great service that...they see us reinvesting into it and making it better for everyone every month."

" This kind of service - membership services like Netflix, Xbox Live, Sirius, Hulu or us - it's a game of inches. You constantly grow"

Call of Duty Elite has over seven million members, but how can Activision grow that number, and more importantly, how can the company convert more members into paying subscribers?

"Keep delivering over time. There is no magical formula," said Berger. Perhaps the biggest draw to Elite (certainly the most tangible) is the bargain subscribers get on DLC, which has been increased to 24 pieces of content. For a subscription of $50, gamers are "starting to see the value proposition," Berger noted.

Beyond that, Berger said that Activision just needs to show members a steady flow of new content and features. "What we just need to do to continue that growth is to prove that every day there is going to be something new, something interesting and evolve the service on a monthly basis. So, this kind of service - membership services like Netflix, Xbox Live, Sirius, Hulu or us - it's a game of inches. You constantly grow. It's not like magical things happen, other than the launch of course; after that it's word of mouth and constant new people coming in and them telling their friends, that's how it works. We're no different," Berger said.

With hundreds of thousands of clans being formed, "100k days" providing prizes to competitors each month, two million downloads of the Elite mobile app and a tablet app on the way, Call of Duty Elite is all about engaging the community and keeping the Call of Duty brand in the spotlight all-year long. It's a strategy that seems to be paying off.

8 Comments

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,584 1,438 0.9
Call of Duty Elite has over seven million members, but how can Activision grow that number, and more importantly, how can the company convert more members into paying subscribers?
Well, they could try rolling out Elite to the PC gaming community. *smirk*

Posted:2 years ago

#1

William Usher Assistant Editor, Cinema Blend

44 41 0.9
I tend to doubt the PC gaming community would take kindly to Elite, especially with the digital price of entry CoD games now carry with them (not to mention a lot of missing core features from previous entries).

But you're right...they could always try...heh.

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Roberto Bruno Curious Person

104 69 0.7
"I do believe services like this are going to become a necessity for real franchises"
No, they are not.
"They want to stay engaged with things in ways that couldn't even happen five years ago.
No, they don't.
I think as a game publisher and developer you have to get ahead of that."
No, you don't.
"You have to be able to engage your consumers wherever they want to engage with you in lots of different and unique ways. You have to provide them social experiences that add to the game."
No, you don't have to.
It's not just useless, it's not even appreciated.
To be blunt, in many cases the truth is that here are a lot of people who spend playing way more time than they should, and they find these kind of "social" features exposing them extremely annoying and uncomfortable, if not even a source of embarrassment.

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Michael Vandendriessche Studying Computer Science, K.U. Leuven

85 12 0.1
EA could look to create a similar service for a top property like Battlefield in the future.
Then what is battlelog?
EA seem to be doing this for a longer time than Activision.
They have Autolog and Battlelog and something similar for SSX too.
Or am I missing something about Elite?

I really like these kind of services providing stats and other useful information with a community build around it.
I do agree building these services is important for big franchises.

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,584 1,438 0.9
Sad thing about the -log services is that they're seperate from Origin. Add battlelog and autolog to Origin and you'd increase the worth of all 3 things immeasurably. As it is, I don't ever touch autolog, and the only reason I look at battlelog is because you have to start BF3 through it. :/ (And it should go without saying I don't look at Origin at all, since it's nothing of anything.)

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Jeffrey Ates Critic/Writer/Enthusiast

24 1 0.0
I must disagree with the route Activision is taking. They are doing nothing more then taking advantage of the less savvy (No offense) video gamers by charging for a service that should not cost them when they have purchased the base game. Its all statistics that should have been included in the base game to increase the value of the game itself instead of using it to financially abuse their user base. The same is being done with the recent Angry Birds in space since u pay for the game...then they hold the eagles ransom for you to pay to get the high scores and its all dishonest business to abuse the unaware.

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Private Industry

1,176 182 0.2
Jeffrey the statistic features such as leadboard tracking, your own statistics, weapon statistics and so on are all free in Elite you pay zero for that. What you get with the premium membership is all the DLC at no extra cost, you can take part in tournaments for prices and other features. The article says you get 24 pieces of DLC and in my personal opinion 50 bucks isn`t much in that case because that`s like 2 bucks per DLC plus you get features in Elite as well like the tournaments where you can win cool stuff.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Private on 1st May 2012 10:16pm

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
So every game you purchase will now become a subscription service? No thanx

Posted:2 years ago

#8

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