CALL OF DUTY: ELITE Combines Social Media, Pro-Gaming, More

CALL OF DUTY: ELITE Officially Announced

Deeper statistics, web-based management, and multiple community tools are all coming to the Call of Duty franchise this fall as part of a new platform called Elite. This new set of tools to enhance the experience for the millions of players of the most popular first person shooter around comes at a price, however.


This "Digital Platform" is meant to lead gamers into the future, according to Jamie Berger, Vice President of Digital at Activision. Gone are the days of letting console manufacturers decide how players interact online, as Activision assessed Xbox Live and PSN as lacking what customers really want when it comes to their games. This more comprehensive service promises to better connect you to like-skilled and like-minded fans, let every gamer become a professional, competing for real-life prizes, and teach you, helping you improve as you continue your virtual military career.

The system's selling point is the web-based management. Built entirely within HTML 5, the latest coding for the web which allows embedded video and other flash-like features without all the crashing, Elite will be compatible with all modern browsers, including those on iOS devices and Android devices from day one. They will also have individual apps for these devices, but it's nice to get the full feature list right there in Safari on your iPad. This is game management in a new way and 100% portable.


The Career section will sound the most familiar to gamers, as it has been done in some capacity for games like the Halo franchise. In Career, you can see all of your cumulative stats from every modern Call of Duty game. During the beta period, that will mean Call of Duty: Black Ops, and when it launches, it will be alongside Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. This is your basic statistics like kills, kill ratio, what maps you play the most, what weapons you favor, and just about anything else you can want to track.


Using those statistics as training is where the Improve section comes in. Here, you'll see your stats, and see videos, written tutorials, graphs, and guides that literally show you how to be a better player. It's a very cool feature, with basic to advanced tutorials catered directly to you whether you're a new recruit or a seasoned veteran.

But who will you play with? Well that's where Connect comes in. Here there are groups that can be associated based on just about anything, from favorite maps to favorite sports teams. Message boards are automatically made for your group, and allow you to set group goals, find a standard team to play with and more. Beyond groups there are also guild-style teams; you can belong to groups and teams, individually or together. It's a vast interconnected system designed to let you strategize, plan play times, and get used to playing with like-minded individuals.


Finally there's Compete. This is a big one, as Activision plans to use it to put out real prizes, from iPads to a Black Ops branded Jeep Wrangler. here, you can prove your trash talk isn't just jabbering by completing challenges, winning in certain types of battles, and more. There will be competitions designed for various skill levels as well, so everyone can get in on the action.

So what's the downside to all of this? Well, an unspecified amount of this functionality will be "premium" meaning you'll be paying for it. The folks behind the magic were nebulous about how much money the monthly cost would be, or exactly what functions will be free or paid. You'll also have to have separate accounts for each platform; if you play games on Xbox 360, PC, and PS3 or any combination, each will need its own account on the service, rather than having stats compiled across them. The paid subscription service will have at least one named benefit: all future DLC will be free for paid users. Regular multiplayer is also not part of this equation; that's still a free (beyond any fees paid for Xbox Live of course) part of your gaming package.


Call of Duty: Elite is at first glance evolutionary, but could actually be revolutionary. If other companies adopted a model like this for something outside of a FPS, the implications are astounding. Imagine if you could track your various careers in Mass Effect 2 to see what choices you made with each character, where your romance levels are at, or even mine for resources on the go. Or think about being able to quickly confer with friends about how to beat that tough boss in Uncharted 3, then plan for a multiplayer session that evening. This combination of social media, tutorial, stat tracking, and the opportunity for anyone to be a "pro gamer" is an exciting proposition. The idea of paying for each of those services might not be, but as long as there's value to it, gamers will shell out the dough. When Call of Duty: Elite launches alongside MW3 on November 8, 2011, it won't just be Activision's grand experiment, but one that will reach out into gaming far and wide.

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