Call of Duty Elite, the social networking/clan-organising thingy for COD multiplayer, got a whole lot of backs up when it was unveiled the other week - the prevailing, Chinese-whispered sense being that we'd be expected to fork out to get the full CoD multiplayer experience. With the waters very much muddied, Activision seem to be in fire-fighting mode - now explicitly stating just what will be free. Activision also reckon that "we believe that the free elements of Call of Duty Elite will be superior to any free service currently on the market."
Oh, and they just called you a hater.
The key message, they claim, is that CoD multiplayer remains free - there is no pay to play subterfuge going on, and instead Elite will offer a bunch of new stuff for no-pennies. "Even haters can play for free," they say. Oooh! Get them! That's you, that is. (And maybe me, a bit, but not as much as those guys who keep filling our comments threads with how Bobby Kotick is worse than Gadaffi or whatever. You realise big companies have more than one decision-making employee, right?)
So, here's the list of most of what you're getting for free - but apparently there's more yet to come, which they don't want to reveal yet because it's about the only element of Modern Warfare 3 that didn't already have its guts forcibly spilled in public:
- Access Elite through the web as well as Elite's free custom iOS and Android applications for smartphones and tablets
- Communicate any way you want across mobile, console and the web with your friends
- Track and share thousands of stats with friends - k/d ratios, score-per-minute, win % and loads more, all represented in easy to understand charts and infographics
- Create your own custom leaderboards to track friendly rivalries - who is moving up and down in your group of friends?
- Analyze advanced heat maps detailing your match-by-match performance - where you killed or got killed, when it happened, and more
- Analyze your weapons performance - which weapons you are best with in which situations
- Upload and share videos of your greatest moments through our exclusive theater mode with the touch of a button
- After you analyze your performance to your heart's content - Customize your loadout - search through all the weapons, attachments and perks, and push them directly into the game menu from the web or your mobile device with the touch of a button
- Join dozens of groups and find other players with common interests to play with and compete against - find people who make the game the most fun for you - TDM, Lakers' fans, Weekend Warriors
- Create a Clan with players who share your interests and taste for competition
- Bring your Facebook friends right into the game, easily taking your existing network into the Call of Duty experience.
- Seamlessly be placed into Groups with those who share your affinities and interests based on your Facebook profile.
- Start tracking your Call of Duty career — everything you wanted to know about your performance across the franchise starting with Black Ops
Which, of course, begs the question of what the people who pay will get on top of that. So far, we've heard something about getting all the DLC packs as part of it, but what else? Ner ner, they're not telling:
"The premium membership of Call of Duty Elite (which is completely optional) will set a new gold standard for what the multiplayer and community experience for a console game can be. Why are we not revealing all of the features that are part of the premium service today? Simple. Because the service was designed to be deeply integrated with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and will not be demonstrable until we are closer to the launch of the game. We know seeing is believing, and over the next few months we will be revealing and demonstrating more of the premium features and by the end of the summer, we will reveal the entire service in full."
So, are we actually any clearer on this? That's a big list of free stuff, but the issue around Elite is not really anything to do with the free package - people are grumpy because they don't see why they would want to pay for extra stuff; why they would want to pay on top of the price they already paid for the game itself. Until said extra stuff is revealed, and moreover revealed to be as extraordinary as Activision claim, that's going to remain the case. The damage hasn't really been controlled yet, I fear.
Let's see what "the end of the summer" brings, anyway. Meantime, you may be able to get an early taste of Elite by signing up for the closed beta here.