Call of Duty 'Elite' service preview
by Garnett Lee, shacknews.com, May 31, 2011 10:15AM PDT
Call of Duty games reign as the most popular online shooters. Every day players log an unbelievable number of hours playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops, and even some of the older titles in the franchise. But while individually the games provide an extensive system for following a player's career in the game, the tracking only covered performance in each game individually.
That's where Call of Duty Elite, the new service being created by Beachhead Studios, comes in. It keeps up with all those stats and serves them up in one place. But Elite goes beyond simply creating a single character profile that works across all upcoming Call of Duty games. Its developers say they aim to create better ways for players to connect, compete, and improve.
There will be a number of ways to get to Elite. It will be built into the games, of course, as well as being accessible directly from game consoles and off the Net with a browser. Mobile versions are also in the works for phones and tablets on both iOS and Android. It doesn't sound like being connected is likely to pose much of a problem.
With all that access, players will be able to interact with Elite much in the same way they would Facebook. Creating a sort of Call of Duty social network is certainly part of the goal for the service. Beachhead wants Elite to be the tool through which everyone shares their online progress, media like screens and videos, message each other, form clans, and create and play in organized tournaments.
Changing the way players get together to play online is another important part of the service. Currently, playlists are the most common means of gathering people to play online. Elite will offer new ways to get games going, like by joining others with a shared interest for instance. The common ground could be something game related but it doesn't have to be. If all the fans of a sports team wanted to get together for a few matches, Elite would get them setup.
The improvement tools are potentially the most valuable part of the package. A lot of people may play Call of Duty online, but a much smaller number of them form the skilled group that is always seen at the top of the leaderboard for a match. All the rest play less consistently, with plenty of opportunity to improve. Elite provides tools like heatmaps that show all a player's kills and deaths on a map to help them learn where they do and don't want to be the next time.
From looking at tendencies and statistics, Elite can then recommend tutorials tailored to get better in related areas. These can cover things like the best way to employ a certain weapon, pros and cons for their attachments, or how to make the best use of different perks. Video tutorials will also be part of the package.
Elite will launch in full alongside Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 this coming November, but a beta will come on line this summer to test the service running with Black Ops. Much of what it offers will be free but there will also be a premium paid membership option. What exactly that will entail and how much it will cost has not been determined yet. It will, though, be an all-inclusive subscription to content for Modern Warfare. Subscribers will receive every map pack at no additional cost as part of the deal.
How Activision decides what features will be free versus for pay will potentially make of break Elite. I played a couple rounds of Black Ops with Elite running and can personally attest to the depth of post match information it provides. It's easy to get drawn into examining how every move on a map played out. But for the social network aspect to work, Elite needs to get a large number of Call of Duty players using the service. To get that, I think they need to give players the parts they most want, like the advanced stat keeping, so everyone is in there everyday checking out their reports.
If you'd like to get in on the upcoming Elite beta, hit their official site, where sign ups are set to begin.