Call of Duty Paid Service Revealed 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:
In an interview, Activision Chief Executive Bobby Kotick said he isn't worried about pushback from gamers about the Call of Duty Elite fee because players will still be able to compete against each other online without subscribing to the service. While he is coy about many of the offerings that will be included in the service, Mr. Kotick said Call of Duty Elite, and the customer-service operation that will be needed to support it, wouldn't be possible if the service was free. "This is an enormous investment," he said.

"Call of Duty" is in a unique position to seek a monthly fee from customers. The game's previous installment, set during the Cold War and called "Call of Duty: Black Ops," was the best-selling game last year, with global retail sales of more than $1 billion during its first six weeks on shelves.