Call of Duty: Elite officially revealed – all the details

Tuesday, 31st May 2011 14:00 GMT By Keza Macdonald

Everything you need to know about Call of Duty’s new online service, plus quotes from Activision’s Jamie Berger and Beachhead’s Chacko Sonny.

Call of Duty: Elite

Elite is a Call of Duty multiplayer service developed by Beachhead.

It features both free and subscription-based content.

Elite will provide one unified account accross all CoD games from Black Ops forward.

No detail on pricing as yet.

Goes into public beta in summer, launches later this year.

Accessible in-game, online and on mobile apps.

It’s no secret that Activision has been looking for a way to monetise its vast, vast multiplayer userbase for Call of Duty. And thanks to the nature of the Internet, Call of Duty Elite is no secret either, now. It’s a service for players of Black Ops and the forthcoming Modern Warfare 3 that offers social networking and a vast wealth of information and analysis of your play performance, as well as strategy tips, maps, weapon breakdowns and competitions. It’s available both as a free version, and a paid subscription service. It gives you one account that will evolve across current and future COD games.

Elite isn’t obligatory, and non-paying customers will still have access to a lot of the features (exactly what content will be premium-only hasn’t been made clear yet). Paid subscribers will automatically get DLC and map packs without having to pay extra for them, but non-paid users can still purchase it separately. They won’t be locked out. And nobody at all will be locked out of multiplayer. You will never have to pay to play Call of Duty online, Activision assures us. We can hear 30 million people exhaling in relief.

“The genesis of the idea was in the fragmentation of the consumer base,” said a spokesperson from Beachhead, Chacko Sonny. “There was a moment when people at Activision realised that there were these tremendous numbers of people who weren’t abandoning prior games when a new Call of Duty came out. Every time we released a new game we were leaving that consumer base behind, and we wanted to find a way to unify them across the whole franchise.”

Elite can be accessed both in-game and online on a separate site, as well as on mobile apps, and it’s best summarised as an enormous, nicely presented collection of data. Your own summary page has a wealth of information about your recent play – you total XP, recent matches with detailed breakdowns, a heat map of your latest match showing where your kills and deaths occurred, your overall kill to death ratio, even an XP calculator that figures out how long it will take you to get to the next rank based on your current play performance.

A video showing off Elite’s features.

It also offers social networking, letting you form groups with other players based on anything from a postcode to an interest to a food allergy. The idea is that it makes it easier to socialise, and easier to find others in CODBlops’ 30-million strong player base who share your interests and your attitudes. The Theatre gameplay video cinema is present and correct, too. You can also track other players, comparing every imaginable facet of your gameplay performance.

As for the competitions, there’ll be everything from straightforward “who can kill the most dudes this week” face-offs to screenshot competitions. A tab labelled Improve houses detailed maps of every arena, with weapon locations and choke points marked, and videos on how to best use each weapon, perk or killstreak bonus.

Social interaction

With all this social interaction, the obvious question is how on earth Infinity Ward expects to moderate it – as anyone who’s ever played online for more than about 30 seconds can tell you, Call of Duty players aren’t always the kind of polite, interesting people you’d like to form a social network around.

“From the service side, the good news is that we have these partners down the road called Blizzard, who have been tremendous in sharing thoughts on how they deal with this very issue.,” says Activision’s Jamie Berger. “You can’t just build a platform, turn it on and hope it goes well. There have to be real human beings managing it, and that has to scale with the community.

“The premium membership helps here. There’s no restriction on groups, everybody can join them, but at a premium level I think people expect a different level of behaviour. At a country club, you pay your money and you expect everyone to behave to a certain norm. We’re going to treat it that way. When you’re signing on, you’re signing on to expectations of behaviour that we’re going to take very seriously. We don’t want to be nannies, but if people are making the experience bad for others then they shouldn’t be part of it.”

At the moment COD Elite only applies to Black Ops, but neither Infinity Ward nor Activision has ruled out incorporating Modern Warfare 2 at a later date, assuming the can overcome the technical difficulties inherent in backwards-engineering a service onto a game that wasn’t build around it.

Sonny seems optimistic that Elite will change the way that people form player communities in COD, hoping for a 100% subscription rate to the free features. “The COD consumer is a tremendously diverse userbase,” he says. “Far and away the single biggest thing that makes people want to play this game is being able to play with their friends, and Elite enables people to find that group of people who are suitable for them to play with, whether that’s based on a zip code of an affinity or leaderboards or just who are interesting folk. It enables that connection in a way that we simply have not been able to do up until this point.”

COD Elite is going into public beta this summer, with a launch planned for later this year – just ahead of Modern Warfare 3, we’re guessing. Expect more details on what paid subscribers will get that everybody else won’t at E3.



  1. Razor

    I don’t want to fuck your face thanks very much, Mr. Garratt :)

    #1 4 years ago
  2. Erthazus

    In short:

    1) Theater
    2) Maps with statistical data (will probably be posted online for free instantly)
    3) Clan Page (can be made on any website, but this is the official one)
    4) Unannounced DLC “prizes”

    7 bucks a month bitches.

    Well, i don’t know what to say, but this time i’m sure. I will just rent MW3 AT BEST.

    #2 4 years ago
  3. Maximum Payne

    So this has nothing to do with ”Cod:Online” ?

    #3 4 years ago
  4. Erthazus

    @3, this is basically CoD:Online

    #4 4 years ago
  5. Space jockey pilot

    looks okay :) wouldnt get it though :)

    #5 4 years ago
  6. StolenGlory

    “There was a moment when people at Activision realised that there were these tremendous numbers of people who weren’t abandoning prior games when a new Call of Duty came out.”

    They weren’t leaving the older CoD’s you silly little man because A) The old CoD’s were generally better and B) The newer iterations in the franchise offer nothing new to warrant the purchase in the first place.

    #6 4 years ago
  7. Patrick Garratt

    Pics added.

    #7 4 years ago
  8. UuBuU

    “There was a moment when people at Activision realised that there were these tremendous numbers of people who weren’t abandoning prior games when a new Call of Duty came out.”

    How dare they cheat Activision out of money like that. The idea of an FPS game having a large, active community for more than a year is proposterous!

    Not getting MW3 out of principle now. I don’t care if the multiplayer experience isn’t much different without Elite – Activision have gone too far this time. They just have to squeeze every last penny out of this franchise, don’t they?

    Shame really, as I was hoping for a decent FPS this year. With MW3 ruled out, that pretty much leaves BF3 which could turn out to be a complete joke online like BC2 was.

    #8 4 years ago
  9. OrbitMonkey

    Tbh I like that their gonna be moderating their *diverse* community.

    #9 4 years ago
  10. Patrick Garratt

    I’ve added the trailer as well.

    #10 4 years ago
  11. wiozan

    Still no dedicated servers…

    #11 4 years ago
  12. DSB

    The only thing that’s surprising is that they didn’t think of it sooner. With annualized releases and a huge community, this seems pretty obvious.

    @6 It’s really only true for the original IW games and their Treyarch counterparts. By all accounts MW2 is still the most played shooter that isn’t Counter-Strike on the PC.

    @8 Hey, at least they aren’t shutting down the old games every time they put out a new one, like EA :P

    I don’t hold out much hope for the post Zampella and West CoD to begin with, but this is hardly going to affect the game itself, if that’s all there is to it.

    People can choose to be indignant about an extra service that they obviously don’t want to buy themselves, but that’s about as childish as not buying a car because it offers extras to those who actually want to pay for them.

    #12 4 years ago
  13. StolenGlory


    Precisely. If you don’t want it, don’t pay for it.

    If you feel that strongly about it, speak with your wallet.

    As far as MW2 being the most played shooter of all time that isn’t Counter-Strike, i’m inclined to believe that; especially in the light of your rather informative earlier post detailing the big diffs between MW2 and BLOPS.

    #13 4 years ago
  14. ultramega

    Still a fucking joke. They keep recycling the same shit, and then add a new feature up and beyond the game, one which people have to pay for? No way. Ever.

    #14 4 years ago
  15. DSB

    @13 Those are the stats as they’re presented. BFBC2 stats are reporting 15k players, Steam is reporting 35k players for MW2, and 28k for BLOPS.

    Which obviously isn’t good for Activision, since they’re currently only making DLC for BLOPS.

    In comparison, though, Counter-Strike is reporting 120k current players across the original and Source.

    #15 4 years ago
  16. StolenGlory


    120K players for CS? That’s actually fairly crazy.

    #16 4 years ago
  17. Lloytron

    To quote Duncan Bannatyne – I’m OUT!

    #17 4 years ago
  18. TikiSadZombie

    COD ELITE leaked trailer:
    So is basically what Bungie is doing for free? Wasn’t going to buy MW3 and now I’m sure I won’t.

    #18 4 years ago
  19. Razor

    Duncan Bannatyne is always out.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen him “in” :P

    #19 4 years ago
  20. Lounds

    FB meets COD = GREAT… nawt

    #20 4 years ago
  21. jeremycafe

    “So is basically what Bungie is doing for free? Wasn’t going to buy MW3 and now I’m sure I won’t.”

    More like exactly what Bungie is doing. Bungie provides pretty much all of the same features with a premium option in which you can pay to have more space, etc. I assume thats what they plan to do as well. If you pay you simply have more options, ease of use, etc.

    I find it hard to understand how anyone can be upset by this move. They are offering something that you don’t HAVE to pay for and adds features to their existing title + future. If you don’t want the extra features, don’t pay. You dont see bungie fans cursing bungie for offering an additional package do you?

    There is just far too much hate over the COD series. Sure, there isn’t significant changes over each game, but to me there is always enough to warrant a purchase. It is pretty clear I don’t stand alone on this one.

    Stay raging, Friends.

    #21 4 years ago
  22. Naaame

    Shame, pretty sure this has sealed the deal for me. I’l wait till proper details hit tomorrow but I don’t think I shall be investing in COD. I just have a sinking feeling this subscription based service will provide the “elite” 10-16 year olds with exclusive items and perks, making it almost pointless for the free players to continue, forcing them to sign up too =[

    #22 4 years ago
  23. jeremycafe

    “I just have a sinking feeling this subscription based service will provide the “elite” 10-16 year olds with exclusive items and perks”

    I have a ‘sinking feeling’ you came to this conclusion before even reading what service plans to provide. Just go to and look at their service for halo reach and you can see what to expect.

    #23 4 years ago
  24. mathare92

    Not into COD whatsoever but I can see the use of such a service really. Don’t quite get all the complaints.

    As long as not too much is locked out for those who don’t have premium accounts.

    P.S. That trailer is cringe-worthy. “Double Rainbow” wtf?

    #24 4 years ago
  25. DSB

    @24 Really? I thought it was pretty funny. The CoD community has a lot of these ultra-serious “youtube pros” giving lectures online – It seems obvious to lampoon that.

    Are you not familiar with Double Rainbow? :p

    #25 4 years ago
  26. mathare92

    @26 As with most other schmyoho auto-tune remixes, I am. Just didn’t get how it fits in that trailer?

    Plus I thought some of the other jokes fell flat anyhow.

    #26 4 years ago
  27. DSB

    @26 It’s random. That’s why it’s funny :P

    I agree, it’s pretty gratuitous meme-use (which meme-use pretty much always is) but I was pretty entertained by that video.

    Then again I’m a sucker for stuff like FilmCow.

    #27 4 years ago
  28. NightCrawler1970

    Wow, Acti copied MAG??? thanks god MAG is free online… i pass Elite :P

    #28 4 years ago
  29. JGaLaXY815

    In all seriousness, HOW MUCH MONEY DO YOU NEED? lol these COD titles end up to break their own records every year as the highest selling game ever. I’m all for not paying for it, but once again, when you’re friends are playing the new maps and it calls you out for being too cheap and not forking over the extra 15$, what r u gna do?….Buy BaTTleF!ELD 3

    #29 4 years ago
  30. Freek

    Sounds like allot of things other games are already doing for free. The Halo stuff, Rockstar’s Social club, Battlenet.
    Seems like a verry cynical cash in move on Activissions part.

    #30 4 years ago
  31. Mike

    So Halo Waypoint for CoD. Bungie sets the bar.

    #31 4 years ago
  32. jeremycafe

    @30 How is it “verry cynical cash in” for Activision but not for Bungie, Rockstar, Blizzard (still acti..) etc? I don’t know about Rockstar but all the other service provided additional features for a cost. hasnt fully gotten there yet, but it is their end goal to provide a premium service on top of the already free content.

    What is with this blind hate for Activision. So you guys don’t like one of their most successful titles and now the rest of your gaming career is devoted to talking garbage? And yes I say garbage not because its insulting trash talk but because you are all speaking utter trash that makes no sense at all.

    #32 4 years ago
  33. OrbitMonkey

    Well internet dweeb hysteria aside, i’m very interested in how this pans out. Surely this is the begining of the subscription only age for consoles?

    #33 4 years ago

    Cool stuff.

    #34 4 years ago
  35. Espers

    another point and shoot sigh !! with dx11 gfx now .. give us your money

    #35 4 years ago
  36. Dralen

    @32 Want to know why?

    It’s because they already overcharge on their games and their DLC maps, but now they want to charge a subscription for premium content on top of that. And I bet most of the site will be premium content not like where only a few features are at a cost, not to mention that those extra features are really really cheap.

    You would think at the prices they charge, that they make a game once a millennium.

    #36 4 years ago
  37. oreogod

    I know Activision likes to run and gun to through the call of dutys like Casanova likes to go through women, but they really should continue to make DLC for all the games back to Modern Warfare. Im not sure how the economics would play out, but there has to be some bank there.

    #37 4 years ago
  38. CrAzYeYeDAVE

    you FUCKING BELLENDS!!! why do none of you realise that at the end of the day its still a business?!?!?!? and what does a business do??? MAKE MONEY£$£$£$£$$$£££ if you owned a restaurant or shop would you not expand because of the “old loyal customer’s” would you not charge any thing because you didnt want people to think you were trying “squeeze every last penny out of this franchise” fucking stupid CUNTS they are going to keep going untill there is no more money left to be made out of it, as would every one of you dickless pricks! get a fucking job!!

    #38 4 years ago

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