Right now the biggest cheerleader for implementing pay-to-play Call of Duty multiplayer, besides Activision, is Wedbush Securities. One of their analysts, Micheal Pachter, has recently ripped into Activision saying that they are betraying their shareholders by not charging for the multiplayer portion of their record-breaking CoD games.
In Wedbush's eyes, by only charging players the $60 purchase price Activision is ignoring a large potential revenue stream that could be used to increase their profits and in turn increase the value of their stock. It appears that Wedbush Securities may have some inside information as their January 2011 newsletter mentions that Activision could introduce a second tier of CoD multiplayer as soon as the next three months.
What this multiplayer offering is going to be is not revealed. Activision has stated in the past that they will not charge for out of the box multiplayer for the Call of Duty series, so it is not likely a strictly pay-to-play subscription. Despite this reluctance on Activision's part to discuss monetizing CoD multiplayer it didn't stop Wedbush from recommending them as a potential investment opportunity for their clients:
"Activision remains a top pick, primarily due to the company's potential to create and monetize a second tier of multiplayer online gaming for its Call of Duty franchise. We expect this to occur during the first quarter of 2011."
While Activision has denied rumors of charging for basic multiplayer, they never said they wouldn't implement some type of tiered subscription service. Could this be something along the lines of PlayStation Plus where you pay a monthly or yearly fee and get access to weapons and maps that others would have to buy individually? With the recent announcement of the first Black Ops $15 map pack coming to Xbox 360, this DLC seems like it could come out in this Q1 2011 window Wedbush is talking about. This could theoretically set up for something where players can pay Activision a $10 (for example) subscription fee and get the maps along with specialized playlists, new weapons and modes.
Or could it be something completely different, like an entirely new game? Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has stated in the past that he thinks a natural evolution of the Call of Duty franchise could be in some type of massive-multiplayer enviroment. Could we be getting a Battlefield type game where large numbers of players are fighting in a large play field? Activision could introduce a subscription service or charge for certain loadouts and items like many MMO games do to turn a profit. And a billion dollars of sales for Black Ops in a matter of weeks is just the beginning...
Now whether or not this prediction from Wedbush turns out to be true or a wild and wrong guess, we won't have to wait long to find out. If something is going to happen, they expect it to be in the next few months. So readers, what are you thoughts on this? Do you want a premium subscription to the main CoD games where you get DLC and other perks, or would you rather this be something completely new? Or are you tired of hearing about this and wish this story would go away? Let us know in the comments.