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WSJ.com and the AP have first details on Call of Duty Elite, a premium online service that will be part of the multiplayer element in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, the next installment in the military shooter series. This will involve a free element, as well as a paid service, though Activision is not clear on how much this will cost, with WSJ saying: "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." There's a preview of this on Gamasutra where they say this is the aspect of the game being created by Beachhead, and explain more of what it is about: "Activision's presentation aimed to enforce that users who don't subscribe won't be excluded from game features -- the intention is to provide a service that players may want. 'There's been a lot of speculation that we were going to try to turn CoD into an MMO, or that we would charge for multiplayer, so we wanted to get that out out [sic] of the way right now. The out of the box experience for Call of Duty... remains the same. We made a commitment that we will not charge for multiplayer, and we're continuing with that commitment'." There's also a walkthrough trailer about this on GameTrailers (thanks Tumbler), explaining that this "works for Black Ops and beyond, Modern Warfare 3, and everything!"
Rumors of a paid Call of Duty first surfaced in late 2009, and not long after that Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said customers were "clamoring" for such a service. Since then Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter has predicted this move couple of times, though last summer Robert Bowling said: "Modern Warfare 2 subscription plan rumors going around. For the record, nobody has to pay to play COD or MW2 multiplayer, nor will they." Here's a bit from the WSJ:
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