Could you soon have to pay to play Call of Duty multiplayer online? Yes, according to Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter. G4tv has the skinny:
"Activision said they are working on ‘value added, premium content that is exclusive,’" Pachter said. "How do you exclude people unless you do it on the basis of whether they pay or not? What are you going to have a bouncer in front of the club where you play the content? The only way it’s exclusive is if it excludes non-paying members," Pachter added.
Folks still pay for downloadable content like map packs, which could be considered "value added, premium content," so there’s no obvious link to a pay-to-play model. However, Pachter supports his case by pointing to Project Beachhead, an Activision studio tasked with delivering "new, innovative Call of Duty content and services." Activision hasn’t been more specific, allowing speculation to run rampant.
Pachter was quickly rebuffed when he claimed that Modern Warfare 2 was moving to a pay-to-play model, so his credibility is questionable. Activision could just as easily go another route entirely. Among MMOs, the trend seems to be toward offering the game for free and charging for premium content within it. In the shooter world, Team Fortress 2 already allows users to purchase in-game items with real money. Microtransactions have made their way into other games, so why not Call of Duty? I suspect gamers would be far more willing to shell out for unique weapons, outfits, and, um, hats than they would be to pay for the privilege of playing online.