Back in June, Kotick commented saying that he wanted to release a COD game that charged a subscription http://www.next-gen.biz/news/kotick-...orrow%E2%80%9D
Then again in July, he commented how Activision wasn't getting a portion of the Xbox Live fees, despite driving 60% of their traffic http://www.next-gen.biz/news/kotick-...box-live-model
"I would have Call Of Duty be an online subscription service tomorrow,” he replied (via *****). “When you think about what the audience's interests are and how you could really satisfy bigger audiences with more inspired, creative opportunities, I would love to see us have an online Call Of Duty world. I think our players would just have so much of a more compelling experience.
Now the XBL $10 price hike was announced in August and implemented on November 1st http://majornelson.com/archive/2010/...scription.aspx
“We’ve heard that 60 per cent of [Microsoft’s] subscribers are principally on Live because of Call Of Duty,” Kotick said. “We don’t really participate financially in that income stream. We would really like to be able to provide much more value to those millions of players playing on Live, but it’s not our network.”
And following this, I just read this Kotick interview here - released on November 12th that brings this theory to light...
November 12 2010 http://www.joystiq.com/2010/11/12/bo...-treyarch-inf/
So Activision are now receiving a portion of the XBL fees. Prior to June, they weren't receiving anything and at some point between June-November, they have started receiving a "very modest amount of the subscription fees". Seems rather conveniently timed with the XBL $10 price hike on the 1st of November!
"You know, Call of Duty games probably represent more than 50% of the total Xbox Live traffic," Bobby Kotick told me when I asked him about Microsoft's recent $10 Xbox Live price hike. You see, Activision is tasked with monetizing an immensely popular online game through a traditional – and inflexible – system: a retail disc played in a video game console controlled by another company. And despite a constant refrain of Call of Duty subscription rumors, the only subscription you may pay to play it online isn't to Activision at all; it's to Microsoft.
"I think the thing that sometimes even I don't fully appreciate – and I think I have a greater appreciation for it today, having spent a lot of time up with Microsoft recently – but they invest billions of dollars in the Live platform. Billing, credit collection, things like foreign currency conversion, being able to manage point systems. All of that is extremely expensive to manage and maintain." Of course, this is all to say that it deserves something, but how do Activision and its customers factor into Microsoft's agenda?
"Because of our Blizzard experience we have an incredible understanding of how important the provision of appropriate customer service is," Kotick said, citing 2,500 World of Warcraft customer service employees for the US and Europe alone. "What we'd like to ideally see is that the investment in the subscription fees going towards the provision of a higher level of customer service [...] to see some portion of the subscription fees go towards game enhancement." Activision does enjoy a "very modest amount of the subscription fees," Kotick told us, but he's more interested in seeing any cost increase in the service go towards "directly benefitting the Call of Duty players."
So, with $60 a year out the door for many Call of Duty players – that would be those playing on Xbox 360, as opposed to PC or PlayStation 3 – it's already a significant $5 a month expense and Activision has only snagged a "modest amount" of that $5.
This is also conveniently timed with Activision's sudden change of heart in today's article from the other thread where Eric Hirshberg said that Activision will never charge for online multiplayer...
November 24 2010
So if my theory is sound, Activision is directly responsible for the XBL price hike and every single XBL subscriber is subsidising Activision, even if you have never bought a single one of their games.
Speaking to IndustryGamers as part of an in-depth interview on the business (stay tuned for more next week), Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg told us that charging for multiplayer simply just won't be happening - not now, not ever. "Are we going to be charging for multiplayer? The answer is no. The experience you have out of the box, connecting with the online community to play Call of Duty is absolutely integral to the experience and we'll never charge for that. It's not going to be something we'll attempt to monetize; it's part of the package," Hirshberg stressed.
Further commenting on Pachter's assertion about a variety of online subscriptions, he continued, "Nothing we or anyone else tries is going to work if it doesn't have tremendous value for people and add a tremendous value to the gaming experience. He's probably looking at meta-trends in the world and in culture about online services and new ways things should be monetized from Netflix to cloud-based computing. So there are certainly a lot of behavioral shifts towards long-standing online relationships... But at the end of the day, all I'm trying to get across is I can unequivocally say we will never, ever charge for the multiplayer."
So what are your thoughts on the matter?