Although analysts have expected Activision to find a way to monetize the online portion of Call of Duty , the publisher has since gone on record saying they'd "never" do such a thing.
Still, rumors persist and now, a fairly reliable report of a "top tier" level of CoD multiplayer gaming has arrived: according to Kotaku citing Wedbush Securities analysts, Activision will soon unveil a new level of online multiplayer within the next three months. This is from the company's January 2011 newsletter:
"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," Wedbush analysts write in their January 2011 newsletter. "We expect this to occur during the first quarter of 2011."
Activision has been boasting about the $1 billion Black Ops and the 600 million hours logged online by fans, but it seems they're looking to take the next lucrative step. CEO Bobby Kotick has been talking about "the natural evolution of a property like Call of Duty into a massively multiplayer environment," which hints at similarities to MMOs like World of Warcraft . So while it may continue to be free to play CoD online, this new "tier" of interaction may offer special bonuses; it reminds us of the Plus membership for the PlayStation Network.
And because Activision is likely convinced that a great many CoD followers won't be able to resist the new online level, perhaps it's inevitable…