Call of Duty 3 will launch with Activision’s new competitive online service, Call of Duty Elite.  It is being developed by Beachhead studio, a new studio created specifically to develop this online platform. Elite will offer a lot of social features similar to Bungie’s Halo online  platform Bungie.net, such as clan/social groupings, uploading and viewing of videos and screenshots, as well as tournament structures and skill-level match-ups.

There will also be some kind of mobile and web interface, with Activision claiming that players will be able to make decisions that affect their in-game experience via these additional interfaces. There has been no additional information revealed on this functionality yet.

Elite will also sport a dynamic strategy guide that tracks how a player does, his or her performance, and offers advice and shows you were you stack up against your friends. Much like Bungie.net, the service will show you “heatmaps” of where you do most of your dying, list who killed you the most, your strongers/weakest weapons, etc.

Okay, the too-long-didn’t-read version: Call of Duty players are finally getting a taste of what Bungie.net has offered Halo players for years. This isn’t intended to insult anyone, just an observation on how long it’s taken Call of Duty to get what’s considered the gold standard in online platforms, next to Steam’s Team Fortress 2 services. Basically, Activision is getting serious.

The worrying bit: Everything so far has been the “free” version. There will be a monthly fee for players who want to “up their game” and get more functionality than what the base free version will offer. This “premium membership” to Elite Premium will include yet-to-be-announced services, entertainment programming (whatever that means) and all-inclusive game content. Current speculation is that by paying the (rumored to be 8 dollars a month) service fee, you’ll be able to play on DLC maps without having to purchase them, but only as long as you keep paying the monthly fee.

You can sign up for the soon-to-happen beta here: http://www.callofduty.com/elite

CALL OF DUTY® ELITE WILL UNITE AND IGNITE GAMING’S
LARGEST ONLINE COMMUNITY

Activision’s New Service Will Offer 30 Million Call of Duty Players
Innovative Ways to Connect, Compete and Improve

Will Launch With This Year’s Most Anticipated Release
Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® 3 on November 8, 2011

Santa Monica, CA – May 31, 2011 – The world’s most passionate online gaming community can now connect, compete and improve their Call of Duty® multiplayer experience through Activision’s (Nasdaq: ATVI) innovative new online service, Call of Duty Elite.

Developed from the ground up by Activision’s new Beachhead studio, Call of Duty Elite offers cutting-edge features that significantly enhance the franchises’ multiplayer experience and deliver a new level of social engagement that will unite more than 30 million players worldwide. Additionally, the service will offer exclusive, high-production value, original entertainment programming designed exclusively for the Call of Duty community.

“The average Call of Duty player spends 58 minutes per day playing multiplayer. That is more than the average Facebook user spends per day on Facebook. And yet, right now, there are very few tools to unite and super charge that social community,” said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing. “Whether it’s allowing you to connect with your friends, or people of a similar skill level, people who live in your city, people who share your favorite passions, join competitive clans or social groups, or upload, view and comment on the incredible mass of player-generated content, or watch and comment on exclusive created content, Call of Duty Elite will give people more ways to connect with fellow players than ever before. Elite will also allow players of every level to improve their game with an intuitive suite of tools, and compete in tournaments for both real and virtual prizes.”

Call of Duty Elite will include several industry-first innovations, and is a key differentiator for this year’s most anticipated game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Elite will offer two-way communication between the service and the game, so that the choices and decisions that players make in Elite through the mobile and web interfaces will affect their in-game experience. The service will be fully integrated into Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and will launch alongside the game on November 8, 2011.

Call of Duty Elite’s features and services engage the community in three key ways:
• Connect: Call of Duty Elite gives players unprecedented control over their multiplayer experience, transforming it into a true social network. Players can compete against friends, players of similar skill levels and players with similar interests, join groups, join clans, and play in organized tournaments. They can also track the performance, progress and activity of their entire network, both in the game itself, as well as through mobile and web interfaces. Elite will be an “always on” way for players to connect with the Call of Duty community.

• Compete: Call of Duty Elite establishes the most exciting, competitive environment in a multiplayer game. Players will have available a constant stream of events and competitions, tiered to group them with those with similar abilities. Both in-game and real-world prizes will be rewarded to all skill levels.

• Improve: Call of Duty Elite is like having a personal online coach. It provides players with a dynamic strategy guide that tracks their statistics and performances down to the most minute details. It can show gamers how they stack up against their friends or others in the community. Tools and information are provided so players can learn and up their game.
Carrying forward to future Call of Duty games, Elite will chronicle a player’s gameplay history in a cohesive career record, keeping track of every kill, every game and progress.

“Call of Duty Elite has been tailored for Call of Duty’s diverse base of players – hardcore gamers, casual weekend warriors and even beginners,” added Hirshberg. “Over 7 million gamers play Call of Duty online each day logging hundreds of hours of multiplayer per player per year. Of course, the out of the box Call of Duty multiplayer experience that gamers have come to love and expect will continue as is. However, for those players looking for more, Call of Duty Elite will supercharge their experience.”

Many key features of Call of Duty Elite will be available to Call of Duty players free of charge. Additionally, for players who want to up their game, Call of Duty Elite will offer a premium membership with a wide range of state-of-the-art services, exclusive entertainment programming and all-inclusive game content for less than the cost of any comparable online entertainment service currently in the market.

The service will be accessible on a number of platforms — via web browsers, mobile devices, through game consoles and within the game interface itself — so that players can connect with Call of Duty Elite whenever and wherever they want.

Call of Duty Elite will launch this fall with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. However, to test the scale of the service, Activision will hold a public beta this summer for Elite with Call of Duty®: Black Ops. For more information, go to www.callofduty.com.

And here is the Call of Duty player in the street reaction to the news:

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