Premium memberships to Activision Publishing‚Äôs new Call of Duty Elite gaming service have quickly topped one million, establishing a new subscription business for the publisher’s multi-billion-dollar franchise.
Yet Activision said that demand for the Elite service ¬†has so exceeded its expectations that the publisher continues to grapple with ‚Äúscaling challenges.‚ÄĚ The service remains ‚Äúintermittent,‚ÄĚ Kotaku reports.
In acknowledgment of Elite‚Äôs launch hiccups, said Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg, ‚Äúwe are giving all Call of Duty Elite premium Founder members an additional 30 days of the service free of charge.‚ÄĚ
Purchasers of the new ‚ÄúCall of Duty: Modern Warfare 3‚ÄĚ video game (released November 8th) pay an additional $49.99 to receive a year‚Äôs worth of digital content and social gaming extras via the Elite online network. Activision said that some three million ‚ÄúModern Warfare 3‚ÄĚ players have registered for a free version of the digital service, which enables users to create online profiles and join multiplayer gaming groups.
The “Elite” service has changed Activision’s marketing dynamic with retailers as well. GameStop, for itself, is touting its role in ‚Äúdelivering‚ÄĚ 600,000 paid Elite subscriptions, thanks to its pre-order partnerships with Activision and console makers Microsoft and Sony. (Best Buy markets Elite subscriptions as well.)
‚ÄúModern Warfare 3‚ÄĚ sold 6.5 million copies on the first day of its release in North America and the UK, according to Activision (via PC Magazine).
Activision Publishing announced Dec. 21 that its ‚ÄúCall of Duty: Black Ops‚ÄĚ videogame has crossed the $1 billion mark in sales worldwide since its launch in November, according to internal company estimates.
To date, players have logged more than 600 million hours with the game, Activision says. The average ‚ÄúBlack Ops‚ÄĚ player on Xbox 360 logs on more than once a day and plays for more than one hour each seasion; over half of that time is spent playing online with and against friends, according to Microsoft.
Marketing and advertising veteran Eric Hirshberg is set to join Activision Publishing in September as the videogame company‚Äôs new CEO. Hirshberg, who hails from ad agency Deutsch LA, will succeed Mike Griffith, who advances to become Acitivision Blizzard‚Äôs Vice Chairman.
Activision is not the first entertainment publisher to charge an ad-agency luminary with charting a new direction for the company. In April, Walt Disney Studios tapped media planning exec MT Carney as its new president of marketing.
Hirshberg will join a game publisher at a crossroads, with some of its top franchises beset by challenges including developer lawsuits (‚ÄúCall of Duty‚ÄĚ) and market saturation (‚ÄúGuitar Hero‚ÄĚ). The LA Times has background.