At one point, it wouldn’t have been a far cry from the truth to call the Call of Duty franchise the biggest thing in gaming. Over the past year though, the series has seen a significant falloff with the advent of some massive upcoming releases and a lack of innovation, leading some to claim that the series is in trouble. As if to add fuel to the fire, Activision has announced the shutdown of one of the series’ past key features: Call of Duty Elite.
With many console gamers already paying a subscription fee to play their games online, the idea of paying for a premium stat-tracking and social-networking service for Call of Duty may seem like a ridiculous notion. Putting aside any initial hesitancy, Call of Duty Elite drew in an impressive number of subscribers. With such a strong brand behind it, the success shouldn’t have been a surprise. With the series’ recent decline in sales though, Activision has decided to shut down Call of Duty Elite as of February 28th, 2014 at approximately 10:00 a.m. (PST).
This announcement comes in the form of an official Activision FAQ listing on their support site. In it, they mention that the service has spent the last year “winding down support” for past Call of Duty titles while focusing on current and future titles. Following its move to a free service for Call of Duty: Black Ops II, it’s no surprise that Elite would soon be saying its last goodbyes. The news is not all doom and gloom for the franchise though.
A significant portion of the FAQ is spent talking about the current Call of Duty app that is available for mobile devices. While Elite is preparing for its retirement, Activision is looking forward at their current mobile app that interacts with Call of Duty: Ghosts, stating that it was developed through the feedback that they had received over Elite‘s lifespan. While it offers some additional functionality to Elite, it still seems like more of a lateral step than a step forward.
For those that are worried they will lose out on the content that they uploaded through Elite, Activision promises that all content that is stored in-game or on YouTube will continue to remain available. Even though the service may be disappearing, it doesn’t mean your 360 no-scope montages have to. In addition to this, those who supported Elite as Founding Members will get to keep their in-game emblem and will receive a two hour XP boost for Ghosts.
Those wishing to retain access to the management of their clans in Modern Warfare 3 and Black Ops II will not be so lucky. With the shutting down of Elite, these services will also be going offline. As with the other Elite-based content, Activision encourages its users to switch to the official mobile app to continue using these features in Ghosts and future series iterations.
While it might not be the juggernaut that it once was, the Call of Duty franchise is still going strong. After facing issues with its next-gen iteration, it looks as though Sledgehammer Games intends to put next-gen first with the series’ next game. With a new set of consoles, maybe it’s time for the Call of Duty franchise to revitalize itself and take some big risks, proving that they too are capable of innovation.
Do you think the shutting down of Call of Duty Elite is at all representative of the series’ declining sales? What do you think the Call of Duty series needs to do to revitalize itself?
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