Matthew Roszak

In The Press Blog

Call of Duty warriors get their own social network

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By Dean Takahashi

Activision Blizzard is announcing Call of Duty Elite today, a social network for players of the most popular video game franchise in the world.

The subscription-based service has been in the works for two years and represents a way to get hardcore players even more engaged in the popular combat game, which draws more than 7 million players a day for multiplayer online battles. The move shows that innovating at the social layer of video games is becoming essential to success, even for hardcore video game companies.

“Games as an entertainment form are better than ever,” said Jamie Berger, vice president of digital at Activision Blizzard. “The world is changing and our competitive set has morphed dramatically. Now we compete with blockbuster movies, social networking, mobile apps — all of them vying for the player’s attention.”

The network will launch in beta form this summer with the Call of Duty Black Ops game that debuted last November. But it will launch as an integrated part of the Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 game that debuts on Nov. 8. Call of Duty Elite could prove to be a strategic asset in the coming battle with Electronic Arts, which is launching Battlefield 3 this fall.

[Activision Blizzard briefed journalists on the Call of Duty Elite launch and asked everyone to honor an agreed-upon embargo for 6 am. But the company allowed the Wall Street Journal to publish the story yesterday evening].

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