Okay, by now you've probably already heard about Activision's big Call of Duty Elite reveal, thanks to a certain major non-gaming publication who had exclusivity over the actual enthusiast outlets. Unfortunately, early authorized reports have spawned a slew of misinformation, but this morning, the rest of us can set things straight for you all.
Call of Duty Elite is actually the much-rumored-about "Project Beachhead," developed by Acti's very own Beachhead Studios, which we first heard about early this year. At the time, however, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick was careful to keep the studio's focus vague, describing their primary purpose as the "development of an innovative new platform and services for Call of Duty." Turns out, that "digital platform" he mentioned iis the already-controversial COD Elite.
Where is all this controversy coming from? Subscription fees. Now before you start unleashing your rage all across the Internet, keep in mind everything you already know and love about Call of Duty will still be free. Multiplayer will remain free, despite persistent rumors to the contrary. Anyway, more on this later.
COD Elite can be best described as Activision's take on Bungie.net and Halo Waypoint. The services offered are very similar to what Bungie.net provides for the Halo community, acting mainly as a social networking tool for Call of Duty enthusiasts, where you'll be able to track your progress, virtually stalk other Elite members, join groups and clans, post videos, and participate in other means of socializing with your fellow gamers. Your progress and activities are tied to a single player account spanning across any supported Call of Duty title you play.
As with the Halo social network, Elite will be integrated into the game interface, though you'll also be able to access it online, through your console, or by mobile device. Just picture Twitter or Facebook but with way more guns. To ensure the community doesn't grow stagnant, a daily "Program Guide" will keep folks updated on events and competitions, and much like Facebook, you can organize and participate with your buddies. The service will boast a "robust" tournament and league system as well, with plenty of real and in-game prizes to vie for.
What kind of prizes? Honestly, we're not sure right now, but let's assume they're worth competing for.
The trailer below, narrated by "theLEGENDofKARL," details some of Elite's planned features. Yes, we are aware that it's nearly seven minutes in length, but stow your ADD for just a moment and enjoy it -- if only for the amusing little Modern Warfare 3 snippet at the very end.
So will all this be free? Yes and no. As the disclaimer in the video notes, some features will be available for free and others will require a paid membership. While Elite is available for free to Call of Duty players, a premium membership will also be offered, though the specifics of what you get for your money remain a mystery for the time being.
Activision and Beachhead have stressed, however, that premium members won't be paying extra for map packs and other downloadable content. Rather, paid memberships are all-inclusive, encompassing DLC and "the full range of Elite services." Of course, map packs can still be purchased separately for non-paying members.
A public beta for COD Elite is scheduled to take place this summer using the Black Ops multiplayer community as guinea pigs, and the full service will be launching on November 8, 2011, with Modern Warfare 3. Update: Should you be interested in an early look at Elite, the website is now up and sign-ups have begun.