Wedbush Morgan has again predicted that Activision is set to monetise Call of Duty multiplayer, saying in a newsletter that it believes the publisher is about to announce a “second tier” to the phenomenally popular pastime.
“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,” said the analyst firm in its January 2011 newsletter, as reported by Kotaku.
“We expect this to occur during the first quarter of 2011.”
Activision has constantly denied it will ever charge for online play in Call of Duty, flat-out stamping on the talk in November 2010.
“Are we going to be charging for multiplayer? The answer is no,” said CEO Eric Hirshberg.
“The experience you have out of the box, connecting with the online community to play Call of Duty is absolutely integral to the experience and we’ll never charge for that. It’s not going to be something we’ll attempt to monetize; it’s part of the package.”
Heavy rumour has pointed at charges for CoD multiplayer for at least a year, and it’s not hard to see why.
In June last year, Activision boss Bobby Kotick told the Wall Street Journal, “I would have Call of Duty be an online subscription service tomorrow”.
Talk of a Call of Duty MMO goes back as far as January 2010.
Wedbush Morgan has been a lead in predicting CoD subs, with boss Michael Pachter saying in December that he believed Hirshberg’s decision to go public with a denial of plans to be a mistake.
“We were disappointed to hear Activision’s new head of publishing flatly deny the company’s plans to charge for multiplayer,” the analyst said.
“We firmly believe that until the publishers address monetization of multiplayer, game sales will continue to be challenged by the publishers’ altruistic decision to provide significantly more entertainment value per hour than ever in history.”
The last game in the Call of Duty series, Black Ops, became the biggest entertainment launch of all time at the end of 2010, enjoying day-one sales of $360 million in the UK and North America alone.