The lights are on
Activision made some waves with its announcement of Beachhead Studios, a new division designed to provide online "content and services" for the company's Call of Duty franchise.The company was not clear as to what this would entail, but Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter is certain it means that Activision is ready to start charging players for Call of Duty online multiplayer.In a story on G4, Pachter did not mince words:"Project Beachhead absolutely is charging for multiplayer," Pachter said. "I'm certain to my core. Activision said they are working on 'value added, premium content that is exclusive. How do you exclude people unless you do it on the basis of whether they pay or not? What are you going to have a bouncer in front of the club where you play the content? The only way it's exclusive is if it excludes non-paying members."
Pachter is certain that pay-for play is coming, however, he's not quite sure how it will be implemented.
"The exclusive content could be pay as you go, or monthly. Let's say Project Beachhead comes up with 'Call of Duty Universe,' and it launches with Modern Warfare 3 and they say 'if you join here's all the exclusive content and exclusive weapons and we'll charge you a dollar a piece.' Or If they say, 'for $5 a month you get unlimited weapons and all the map packs we bring out for Modern Warfare in perpetuity,' a lot of people will say, 'I'm going to buy three map packs for 15 dollars anyway, so for $60 a year, I'm getting all the unlimited weapons and achievements,' so they could do that. I don't know if that's what they're going to choose to do. I'd say $5 a month is reasonable, though."
If true, it's not going to go over well with fans accustomed to paying only for their Xbox Live membership -- or in the case of PS3 owners, playing multiplayer for free. We've come to expect that multiplayer is included with the $60 price tag of our games, but perhaps that era is coming to an end.