It’s been a little since Activision/Blizzard scumhole CEO Bobby Kotick shoved his foot so far into his mouth that it came out his ass – he’s been too busy cornholing his most profitable studio to be verbally inflammatory – but who can forget such lovable quotes as this and this? But the Most Hated Man in Gaming is at it again, telling the Wall Street Journal that fans are “clamoring” for a subscription-based Call of Duty.
I’m gonna go out on a small limb here and bet that people almost never “clamor” for the opportunity to pay for stuff they’re used to getting free. And while it may offend Kotick’s sensibilities, free online play has been part of the CoD franchise since the beginning. It’s not like we’re seeing a huge migration to pay-to-play online models, after all. Sure, some games, like MMOGs, typically have a subscription fee; then there are services like Live and GameTap that charge modestly for access. But just as fans erupted when dedicated servers were eliminated from the latest Modern Warfare, so too would they erupt if they were suddenly forced to pay for something that’s usually part of the $60 price of entry. Because I assure you, Call of Duty Online (or whatever) wouldn’t suddenly drop to free for the boxed product just because you’ve got to pay a monthly subscription.
Kotick’s general greed (befitting a man who looks like he ate his family) is well-documented; he’s said flat out he’d raise game prices if he could get away with it. But as the claims that $60 is simply too much for new games grow ever louder, Kotick realizes his hands are tied on the boxed front. Therefore he turns his hunger for cash to subscription models, and what better start than Call of Duty, the beloved franchise that’s made him so rich over the years?
To say fans are “clamoring” for a subscription-based CoD is like saying a burglary victim “wanted” to be robbed. No one wants to pay for something they get free elsewhere, and if Battlefield: Bad Company 2’s success online is any indication, people are getting tired of the missteps they’re seeing in online Call of Duty. EA wants to dominate the online shooter – John Ricitiello has said so. In order to accomplish that, the company has to topple Call of Duty first, and keep an eye on the ongoing Gears of War online community, which does very well on its one-and-a-half platforms. From EA’s perspective, nothing could be better than a subscription-based Call of Duty. With Bad Company 2 widely recognized as the superior multiplay experience, but CoD having the brand cachet, if Activision/Blizzard actually drove consumers away from their product with a new revenue model – if Call of Duty were to Hellgate: London itself, to coin a phrase – the logical refuge for gamers would be EA’s Bad Company series.
Ironic, sort of, that when Kotick fired Infinity Ward, those guys raced to the relative safety of EA, just as gamers might do when Kotick tries to scrape even more pennies from them.
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