Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3

IS CALL OF DUTY ELITE PREMIUM SUBSCRIPTION A FAIR DEAL?

When Activision originally announced their new Call of Duty Elite premium subscription package for £34.99 or $49.99 a year (or included in Modern Warfare 3‘s top-end Hardened Edition), I originally responded with “What a bloody rip off” and walked away thinking that once again, Activision were milking their cash cow for all it’s worth. They seem intent on squeezing every last drop from the world’s best selling game, whilst fleecing gamers in the process. Once I had time to calm down and look under the bonnet to see exactly what was on offer, I hate to admit that actually the deal could actually end up saving you money if MW3 is your weapon of choice.

A quick look at the FAQ reveals the following: “The annual subscription to Call of Duty Elite is an all-inclusive membership, and that means you get Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 downloadable content, including all of the MW3 map packs and more as part of your premium membership. No need to buy additional DLC.”

Previous Call of Duty games released, on average, four map packs during their life cycle. If you are the kind of CoD Fan that would buy all of these maps, the Elite Package would actually be considerably better value than buying them separately throughout the year.

There is certainly a bittersweet pill to swallow here, as the Elite members will get their hands a new batch of content every month first, rather than waiting for the usual quarterly release of multiplayer maps, extra spec ops missions and new game modes. This means that non subscribers could end up of the pace and playing catch-up, which in effect could be seen as forcing them to subscribe to get the most out of the game.

Value for money or pointless willy waving?

Personally, I am of the belief that Activision are marketing the Elite Premium subscription all wrong. Nobody gives a rat’s ass about gold clan tags, premium theatre, groups, Elite TV and various other willy waving statistic boards. The majority of people are unaware that you actually receive all MW3 DLC, which will be around twenty items and released monthly so you will always have something new in the game. If you don’t like the game, then this will never appeal to you, but for a Call of Duty regular; this is genuinely a good deal.

Although Elite Premium and EA Sports Season tickets are receiving growing criticism by offering their own services, they are arguably better value than paying Microsoft £40 Xbox Live for a marketplace to buy more things. Especially considering that if you were only ever playing FIFA online on your Xbox, which uses EA’s own servers, you have to ask: “What am I paying Microsoft for?”

The world is caught in the middle of a financial crisis and everyone, more than ever before, is having to watch what they spend. If you are one of the gamers out there who have paid  £40 to Microsoft for Xbox Live, £40 for a game and then £35 for an exclusive club, then you have just blown £115 to play one game on a console. How many people can actually afford to do this? As people begin to get more thrifty, you can see on many gaming forums that there is a growing voice of people calling Activision greedy, as they are tired of playing the same game each year.

Franchise down… Repeat, we have a franchise down.

Even hardcore CoD fans seem to be getting more excited about the release of Battlefield 3, and maybe it’s not about CoD refusing to change or even the fact Battlefield 3 has Jet Fighters; but people are simply getting tired of Activision’s greed and are starting to make a stand.

So as the haters begin to defect from CoD, the irony is that they could quite easily end up spending more anyway, as they will have to pay for individual map packs for Battlefield over a year. Gamers will never win, and maybe that’s what attracts us all; the constant challenge and thrill of the chase.

That said, if your life is not complete without CoD MW3 and all of the map packs for the next 12 months, then the Elite premium subscription package is officially a good deal, and don’t let anyone tell you different.

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COD XP AND THE KAYNE FACTOR…

We are living in the age of celebrity, where Heat Magazine sells by the bucket-load. Cynical gamer types like us don’t need to worry about trivial things like that because we’re different, right? Sorry, guys and dolls but you may have missed the memo. Gaming is the new rock n’ roll.

With budgets and sales to rival Hollywood blockbusters, I guess it was only a matter of time before the PR Machines began to throw celebrities into the mix. They’re trying to make the big game releases feel more like movie premieres; complete with full red carpet treatment.

With Call of Duty: Black Ops officially being the “best-selling game of all time”, maybe it’s of no surprise that Activision have announced that their Call of Duty XP Event will hit Los Angeles on September 2nd and 3rd and will headlined by Kanye West. There are even rumours that Jay-Z will make an appearance in front of 6,000 people paying $150 for the privilege. The event will be the public’s first chance to play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 online and Microsoft are even sponsoring a $1 Million Tournament.

We are talking about big business here, considering how much the average CoD fan will spend on map packs, DLC and the title itself over a year before repeating the process all over again (break the cycle people!). When you strip this down to the bone, you can see that this is no longer about gaming, but simply a huge ad campaign defending a multi-billion dollar first-person shooter brand to ensure Activision’s market share remains intact. This is not something the average gamer will think about when buying Modern Warfare 3, but to the men in suits this is all that it’s about.

Some serious money is being spent on the event. To me it feels like a boxing movie, where the ageing champion has become arrogant and having lost sight of what made him the best in the world has resorted to entering the ring throwing money into the crowd. Despite spending thousands trying to guarantee CoD retaining its title as the best FPS, there is a worthy challenger in the form of EA’s Battlefield 3 waiting for their moment of glory after smelling a weakness in their adversary.

I’mma let you finish, but…

As fiercely loyal as CoD fans are, a look on Twitter, Facebook or the many gaming forums online there is a definite wind of change in the air. It is almost considered very cool to knock Activision and dislike the Call of Duty franchise, where the Battlefield series appears to be gaining much online love since July when the official site for EA’s upcoming blockbuster launched. Although EA are far from being small fry, it seems people will always root for the underdog, especially when they announce that they want to destroy their opponent.

Here at This Is My Joystick we have interviewed several gaming celebrities who genuinely love gaming, but there seems to be a growing trend of using big-name celebrities who have clearly never played a game in their life. Take Helen Mirren and Terry Wogan in Nintendo’sChristmas Campaign last year. You can imagine some hipster standing in a boardroom saying“If we are going to sell this shit to the public we need to add the Hollywood Effect”.

Whatever you are selling, it’s common knowledge that if you want to fool your customers then you need to use celebrities in your ads. It’s the modern way and somehow makes people think the product is must have and glamorous. Hell, it may even make you cool if you buy it.

The reality is that the agent calls the so-called celebrity and says something like “Pretend you like Product X and you’ll get a suitcase full of cash for an afternoon’s work. You in?” I like to think that gamers are a little more switched on than this though and can smell a sell-out when they see one.

Mock my knitwear collection but don’t mention the fish sticks joke…

Despite the idiocy of it all and the ridiculous lengths that Activision are going to simply to protect their turf, I think it is testament to just how successful gaming has become as an entertainment medium. A game release is just as an important as a Hollywood summer blockbuster premiere in the eyes of the world, which is something that I never thought that I would see in my lifetime. With this comes the dreaded celebrity endorsements and the hypocrisy that comes with them, but unfortunately feel that this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

As the two giants, EA and Activision, go toe-to-toe with each other, the only real winners will be the gamers. Tough competition will force the developers to up their game to create the best possible gaming experience, so maybe it’s not that bad after all.

Let us know what you think about the battle of the two FPS giants, celebrity endorsements and gaming getting the Hollywood treatment.

UK game advertising: Our Super Bowl moment

Whilst watching the recent Champions league final, I must admit to being a little surprised at the heavy advertising of video-games, which even contained trailer premiers. Sure, video-games have come a long way and feature heavily in the mainstream of entertainment but this illustrated that gaming is now one of the top forms of entertainment.

For the first time, the UK experienced what is probably best described as a ‘Super Bowl’ moment, when a range of major brands chose to invest millions of pounds. Reports suggest that it was estimated that ITV made in excess of £8m in TV ad revenue during Europe’s biggest football night of the year, as some late spots in key breaks went for up to £300,000 for 30 seconds.

Saturday night prime time advertising space featured full trailers for Gears of War 3, Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and even Brink got a mention too. What is strangest about this aggressive video-game marketing technique is how unique this form of advanced advertising actually is, especially considering how seldom we see big budget adverts on our TV screens for even summer blockbuster movies 4-5 months before they are officially released. (more…)