Blog: Why Call of Duty doesn’t need to be a subscription-based game

By on March 27, 2011

Because Activision has got us by the hook already.

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First Impressions
My reaction is

Much has been talked about a Call of Duty MMO, how it makes good business sense (or not) and how it may be the only game that can possibly wobble World of Warcraft’s throne. But hey, you know what, Activision doesn’t need to make Call of Duty a subscription-based game at all. Because it already is.

Isn’t it?

Every year brings a slightly updated installment from the series and the millions of us just lap it up the moment it comes out. $60 every year for pretty much the same game. Does that sound like subtle yearly-subscription or is it just me?

On top of that, the developers churn out at least 4 DLC packs for the game, $10 a piece, bringing the total amount of money spent on the game to $100. Every year, millions of fans shell out a hundred dollars for another Call of Duty.

Of course,  the user base of Call of Duty is not as large as World of Warcraft, and hence not as profitable. Blizzard charges $78 for a 6 months subscription, amounting to about $156 per year. Only $56 short of what Call of Duty charges. But with three platforms at their dispense – Xbox 360, PC, and PS3 – and an increasing demand for more Call of Duties world over, how long before the franchise starts to roll in more money than World of Warcraft?

Sever costs are barely as much as Blizzard shells out to keep WoW going – Xbox 360 and PS3 rely on P2P, and Activision refuses to support PC with dedicated servers, anyway (well, mostly). Story campaign cost? Ha! Story! When was the last time you came out impressed with a COD story, which you finished just over a cup of coffee? Can’t remember, right. Neither can I. The story is ill thought, badly written and poorly executed – a job of hurry and carelessness to get it over with so they can concentrate on where the money actually lies.

What else? Marketing cost? Well, that’s an area Blizzard doesn’t have to pool in so much. Every kid and their grand mother knows what World of Warcraft is. Hell, when I asked my two year old nephew if he recognized what this orange dragon represented, he cocked his head quizzically and just stared back, as if saying “Ye, serious?”.

Activision needs to build a large user base, so marketing is vital. At least for a few years before they can tone it down a little. I mean, at the end of the day, do we really need big ass billboards, countless TV spots, dozens of paid previews and whatnot to get the world across? Just mashup a press release and the fanboys will get giddy anyway.

So, there. Call of Duty is a cheaper subscription-based game already. Activision doesn’t need to kick the working model in the million-buck-jewels to try and needlessly compete with Blizzard. They don’t have to. The two can exist peacefully without each other knowing about it.


Mufaddal Fakhruddin is the Editor for IGN ME and thinks writing in third person about himself in an about me section is weird.

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  • Newbz

    Considering the facts of Call of duty which seems automated , pick a gun , shoot , shoot some more , and play the ending dramatic scene, i do agree , the later cod’s have become very lame in their storyline.
    You did forget to mention , there could be DA GAME to end all games including WoW, ,” Diablo 3″. I’m sure even you would love to know what happened after bael, oh unless u don’t play diablo series.
    There’s also starcraft 2 expansions, 2 of them , and the secret titan project … and 1-2 more expansions of wow,
    From the shooter point of view , oh yay , another shooter based game with a story that even kermit the frog would do better.

    Blizzard folks aren’t directed by making money , hence their delays of releasing games late. If they do hit a gold mine , they don’t milk that cow dry.

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