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Pachter: Call Of Duty Multiplayer Being Free "Was A Mistake"

Activision opted not to use a subscription-based model for Call of Duty multiplayer, and analyst Michael Pachter says that was a mistake.

In speaking at the Digital Game Monetization Summit in San Francisco (and as reported by GamesIndustry International), the Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst said Activision "trained" their audience but didn't capitalize:

"I know the game sells billions of dollars. Activision did a bad thing with Call of Duty from a profit perspective. They trained gamers that you can buy a game and play it all year, ten hours a week, forever, and you never have to pay again. You just wait for the next Call of Duty. I promise you there are plenty of people, numbering in the millions, who play one game, which is Call of Duty, and they never stop."

He compared Call of Duty to Activision's other cash juggernaut, World of Warcraft, saying that while the WoW players are forking over $180/year, the CoD players only have to pay 1/3 that amount. In short, Pachter says "this multiplayer thing being free was a mistake." He finished by saying that Activision may not repeat that mistake with its new title from Halo developer Bungie. So maybe you should all expect a subscription model for that one, if you're interested in playing.

Oh, and Pachter predicted that Activision will buy Take-Two Interactive, so...yeah, get ready for that.

Tags: michael pachter, call of duty, cod, call of duty games, call of duty multiplayer

12/7/2012 11:32:44 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (49 posts)

Beamboom
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 11:55:11 AM
Reply

Oh man what an idiotic suggestion. He clearly don't understand the difference between a MMORPG persistent world and client hosted game sessions like COD multiplayer.

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godsman
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 12:12:37 PM

He just suggest that from a business point of view, that if they could sell less copies of COD for higher price, for higher revenue, they should. It's for the benefits of the investors, not the gamers. Apple is the great example. They sell laptops and ipads for premium prices, people will just eat it up, so why sell it for cheap?

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Beamboom
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 12:26:08 PM

I understand that, but it would ruin the franchise.
There's just no way the majority would accept this, and that means another franchise would take over, and that means no more COD. And that's not in the investors best interest.

That's what he don't understand if he think it is comparable with a mmorpg, cause it's not.

Last edited by Beamboom on 12/7/2012 12:28:31 PM

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godsman
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 6:08:03 PM

First of all, i think the franchise is considered ruined already. Considering that the majority of the gamers are from Xbox. I'm sure they are used to shelling out $50/year just to play online.

I assume that the majority of the PS3 gamers here are used to playing free, but it's not the case for Xbox.

There is a sweet spot where the gamers are willing to pay. Currently they have 22million sellers each COD game. if they lose 2 million and charge extra $6/year.

They make $60/game * 2 mil = $120 million
Charging online for $6/year * 20 mill = $120million

So charging $6 a year, that is the break even point. You don't have to charge the full $10/month like WOW. I am PRETTY sure the majority will pay more than $6 bucks for the game and investors will like this.

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Neo_Aeon666
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 8:35:49 PM

Nah people would mind. There is just no way you can charge per month for this type of online experience.

Plus they already kind of did it with the *Elite* system. I don't think it would be wise to push it further. I for one would spit on them and I am puzzled as to how *investors* can't even see that. They are just in for quick money and ruin the consumer's experience. Wish they would just stfu, invest and let business handle it's products. Need I remind you that THEY are the cause for DRM on PC games... OMG if I were this world's dictator I would get them executed THIS INSTANT! lol

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Simcoe
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 9:28:36 PM

"Nah people would mind." Ummm, we are talking about CoD gamers right??? The vast majority of them will happily pay.

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Beamboom
Saturday, December 08, 2012 @ 5:44:50 AM

Godsman, there is a significant difference between paying for playing a multiplayer game, and paying for access to the xbox-network. You too pay to play online today - we all do - unless internet access is free where you come from?

Also, what's your source of your claim that most COD gamers are from the Xbox? The sales statistics are not that obvious. COD sells bucketloads also on PS3 and anyone who's actually played a COD game on PS3 can confirm they are *not* alone.


Last edited by Beamboom on 12/8/2012 5:45:30 AM

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xenris
Saturday, December 08, 2012 @ 12:00:21 PM

I agree 100% with Beam here. A subscription would only detract from sales. I know the Call of Duty fans gobble up the DLC and map packs, but trust me when I say there are a lot of people who would not even consider call of duty if there was a subscription model on top of it.

Why would anyone in their right mind, pay for a lobby based FPS game with terrible matchmaking, and multiplayer issues that have plagued the series since 2007

Now if they made it a subscription model they would have to fundamentally change the product to match the increased cost to the consumer. Call of Duty would need to become an MMOFPS or something close to that to justify people paying monthly to play the game.

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godsman
Sunday, December 09, 2012 @ 12:13:48 AM

I am only giving an example. Let's say if Activision sells the game for $20 bucks but a subscription fee for $5/month? In a year, it will cost the gamers $80 bucks, instead of the $60 upfront. It may sound like a bad idea, but i'm just throwing some random ideas out. I'm sure the business end of Activision can think of something better. My whole point is that there are more than one way to skin a cat.

The COD franchise is selling TOO much. There is too much demand. The game price is fixed at $60, limiting the balance of supply and demand. The ideal business strategy is to raise the price to achieve the sweet spot to maximize revenue.

There are too many people using the server. I read an article that even after the new Modern warfare releases, there is still 1 million modern warfare 1 & 2 gamers using the server. I dont have insider info, but Activision is maintaining servers actively for all their COD games. They are doing that for free. Who knows how many more years they will continue to do so? Do you agree that charging free gaming is a good strategy on their end?

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Beamboom
Sunday, December 09, 2012 @ 3:07:34 AM

Godsdman, I think they could have raised the price of the game without much problems. Added an extra tenner or so, I think the fans might have accepted that.

But a subscription just to play - for *everyone* - is a very different beast.

The servers they run in order for the matchmaking to take place is a very light service that, relatively speaking, doesn't cost much. This is why everyone can offer these services included in the game.
The big job of hosting the actual games is done on one of the players machines. In other words the games are hosted by the players themselves, using their bandwidth etc. And this is why a subscription fee doesn't make sense in these kind of games.

Had the games taken place on their servers, like is the case with mmorpgs, then we can start talking about how to pay for that monthly maintenance.

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godsman
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 12:07:44 PM
Reply

Activision trained the gamers to play free online, but in return the gamers trained Activision to release annual COD games to cope with the free gameplay. It all works out for Activision.

Activision then releases all these Collector Editions with useless junk to increase the revenue.

Last edited by godsman on 12/7/2012 12:08:37 PM

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Neo_Aeon666
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 8:44:23 PM

Exactly. No change needed. I wish Patcher would keep his embarrassing thoughts for himself. He might give ideas to some dumb people who don't know crap about games and think a first person shooter that has you running around in the same map all year long with absolutely no depth is worthy of comparing with a title that always evolves and has you go through maps nearly the size of a planet in a world rich in lore and stories...

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slugga_status
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 12:15:36 PM
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I see what he's saying but I don't agree. If you had to pay to play CoD I think they'd lose a good chunk of their fan base. They could live off the loyalist but I don't think many people would pay to play it online when there are a ton of other free options available..

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ChaseHammer
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 12:25:34 PM
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Subscription based games are on the way out. Finally people find that its stupid to pay every month to play a game.

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Beamboom
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 12:31:21 PM

Hehe - have you actually calculated how much a "free to play" game will cost you if you want to fully enjoy the game over an extended period of time?
In my humble opinion subscription based games is a much fairer model, much more predictable and easier to get the overview of the actual costs. You pay X amount of dollars a month to access the entire game, and that's that.

But what we talk about here is a kind of gameplay that never has had subscriptions attached to them.


Last edited by Beamboom on 12/7/2012 12:34:19 PM

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Clamedeus
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 3:25:07 PM

I would never pay a subscription to play a game online, it's always been free to play for me and it always will be. :)

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maxpontiac
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 3:41:31 PM

I see it rather stupid to pay every month for XBox Live when you can play the same COD BO2 online for free.

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Beamboom
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 4:39:00 PM

@Clam;
I'd never pay a subscription to play a multiplayer game like COD either. That has indeed always been free, and rightly so.

But mmorpgs are very different. There you pay for a service, much like you pay a monthly fee to your ISP to get online.

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Clamedeus
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 8:11:42 PM

I also play free to play MMORPG's. :P

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Geobaldi
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 10:31:03 PM

"I also play free to play MMORPG's"

Of which none are really worth playing. I still prefer to pay monthly for them so I don't have to worry about all the limitations, and endless grinding, you have to do to make any real progress. Be it crafting limited/forbidden to free players, item storage limited/forbidden to free players, skills learned limited/forbidden to free players, equipment limited/forbidden to free players, areas of the world limited/forbidden to free players, etc. If I play the game and like it, then I'll gladly pay the monthly fee to support the game and developer, and unlock the full game and play it the way it's meant to be played. Free to play, for MMO's at least, is only good to try a game out to see how it plays and if it's actually worth paying for.

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Vitron
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 10:40:57 PM

@ geobaldi:

League of Legends

Last edited by Vitron on 12/7/2012 10:41:22 PM

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Geobaldi
Saturday, December 08, 2012 @ 6:46:42 AM

"League of Legends"

As I said, none are worth playing. LoL being one of those. And Dota, Heroes of Newerth, Bloodline Champions, Wrath of Heroes, Rise of Immortals, and all the other moba style games.

Well, Demigod I did like. but then again, that was a retail game.

Last edited by Geobaldi on 12/8/2012 6:47:38 AM

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Clamedeus
Saturday, December 08, 2012 @ 4:03:21 PM

Geobaldi

That's your opinion and you are indeed entitled to it, but that's not how I operate with MMO's or MMORPG's. If I don't like the game I can find another it's no big deal for me anyway.

There is games out there without boundaries and restrictions, and you don't need to pay real cash for. Those are the games I like, and I honestly don't care for P2P.

Last edited by Clamedeus on 12/8/2012 4:05:02 PM

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Beamboom
Sunday, December 09, 2012 @ 3:10:22 AM

Clam, what games are you referring to? I'd love to have a look at them. And can you fully play those games without having to start dealing with micro-transactions? How are they then earning their living?

I see DOTA2 mentioned but that isn't a mmorpg (persistent world, server side) is it?

I've heard good stuff about League Of Legends though, a friend of mine asked me to go have a look at it.

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Clamedeus
Sunday, December 09, 2012 @ 9:04:44 AM

Dungeons & Dragons Online comes to mind. It's free to play and has no microtransactions. It has an Item Mall that you use In-Game money to buy, NOT real money. There is others, but you really have to look. And there is a lot of F2P games.

I'm not sure exactly how many games out there that are like this. How many exactly I don't know. Maybe it's just a few games? I like the F2P games I play, if the game does have microtransactions I don't use them, or need them. I have always got by with making my own gear and not relying on paid equipment.

You play what you like, And I'll do what I like. It's simple. :)

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Beamboom
Sunday, December 09, 2012 @ 9:52:29 AM

Yeah a ton of f2p games, I've just started on Star Trek Online now as an example of that, but typically all those games really require you to chip in money to fully enjoy the game. The "free" part is really just a form of demo.

But D&D Online, how do they earn their money? How can it stay alive?

Last edited by Beamboom on 12/9/2012 9:53:25 AM

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xenris
Monday, December 10, 2012 @ 9:37:20 AM

Beam the MMOs that come to my mind that are pretty much entirely free or at least in the time I put into them were free and felt completely open to me were lineage 2, and Aion. Didn't seem like you needed to pay anything and all the stuff you could buy was just fun cosmetic stuff. However I didn't get really far into Aion so it might have changed in that game, but for Lineage it seemed even as I approached the level cap nothing was being locked from me.

Guild Wars 2 is buy to play but the item shop is not even remotely required unless you are a hardcore player who needs to open black lion chests immediately or you like cosmetic options.

Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, DnD online, Champions online these all seemed pretty reasonable to me as well. Although you had to really grind to avoid paying in Lord of the Rings from what I remember.

Like you said though Dota2 is NOT an mmo, there is nothing persistent about it. In fact that is why in my opinion it is leagues better than LoL... see what I did there :P

LoL has this persistence that just ruins mobas for me. The game in general feels easier, without having to deal with denials and losing money when you die the balance and progression of matches feels off to me.

There are some decent F2P shooters where you don't have to really pay anything like Blacklight:retribution and planetside 2 and Tribes:ascend. Although for planetside 2 you benefit greatly from being on the subscription, and Tribes is a huge grind unless you pay any amount of money to get the vip status. I think the smallest amount you can spend is 10 bucks, so its more like a 10 dollar game with an unlimited demo that is a painful grind but people have unlocked everything they want without paying which would make me rip my hair out >.<

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Killa Tequilla
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 12:57:34 PM
Reply

I don't understand what he's mumbling about.

Does he want Activision to make more money?

I hope Activision doesn't buy Take-Two.

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BikerSaint
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 1:14:11 PM
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It's THQ that's been having problems, not take-2. So why he think that Antivision will go after Take-2 instead????

BTW, as long as Boobie Kotex is still at the helm to run more of the company's titles into the ground, then I surly hope that Antivison winds up with neither company.

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bigrailer19
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 1:20:10 PM
Reply

What a douche. The day I have to pay to play it, is the day I stop playing it. No game is worth monthly subscription, especially not when it's $60 from the start and there are tons of other games - better games - that come out in the meantime.

This would be a stupid decision by Activision if u ask me. I think they would lose a lot of consumers. Then again they may make that up for those that are willing to pay a subscription.

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maxpontiac
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 3:42:24 PM

Same here sir. I usually buy that game every other year, but if paying starts to happen, I am done.

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CH1N00K
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 1:43:20 PM
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They would have to support the hell out of an FPS in order to convince people to pay 180 a year. I understand how it works with world of Warcraft, but a simple run and gun FPS like call of duty? No, a subscription to that for a couple rehashed game modes and maps just isn't worth it...but Dust is trying that mentality, so maybe we'll see how that turns out for them before judging...

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Simcoe
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 1:50:15 PM
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They guy doesn't represent gamers he represents shareholders, of course he'll be in favour of whatever makes the shareholders more money, that's the capitalist system people!

Let the market decide whether this is a good idea! My guess is that Activision has trained their customers to such a degree that there is still room for them to make even more money!

While I don't think the opportunity is there to charge people $60 and an online pass, I do think more money could be made by one of two ways. Both would consist of a low entry price for the game say $10-$20, then either a monthly subscription fee ($10), or the mobile app style with progressive fees to rank up or acquire more weapons/perks.

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wackazoa
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 2:13:26 PM
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I hate Michael Pachter.

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oONewcloudOo
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 2:20:20 PM
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I see what he's saying but is activision starts charging for multiplayer he'll quickly see COD not being the best selling game of the year.

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Beamboom
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 2:42:10 PM
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It would have made more sense of him to suggest that the price of the game could be raised. Cause to be honest, I think it could be raised without them losing many players.

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AcHiLLiA
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 2:50:16 PM
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If this is true, I would hate to be a 360 owner.

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Underdog15
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 2:58:15 PM
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I wouldn't have started if they did. And what's more, they'd have to spend more to actually support it. Would the weakened hold on the genre actually have paid off? They almost own the fps genre as a monopoly. Lol

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Nynja
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 3:39:12 PM
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I personally don’t fully agree, but think he’s in a way correct. If the amount were small enough, Activision could have gotten away with a subscription fee – ONLY if stats carried from game to game (or expansion…). I believe they are secretly working on an MMO version of CoD.

The down side to having a subscription fee for multiplayer would significantly reduce the number of annual players. Gamers like free. Xbox gamers are already paying for multiplayer, so they would not likely submit as easily as those on other systems who get that feature free. In the long run I think the trade off still could have been more profitable for Activision, especially if they offered tiered memberships and forms of payment plans.

Flip side to all that is the game does hold the premium price much longer than any other game titles out there. Most games reduce the retail price just mere months after initial launch. CoD games take nearly a full year before any kind of publisher discount is offered. Then we have DLC which is favorably priced for Activision. With standard 3 DLC packs each costing $15, Activision would collect $105 each year from the most dedicated CoD player. That is somewhat comparable to what World of Warcraft players pay annually.

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CaptRon
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 6:29:07 PM
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This guy is an idiot, and anybody that pays monthly subscriptions to games is a moron.

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Undertaker575
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 6:32:51 PM
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They always want more money! They're not happy with the billions they are making already... This makes me want to vomit!!

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Zen_Zarab
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 6:56:29 PM
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Micro Transactions are the way to go. I'd love to change my Semtax into a snowball that explodes.

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PharaohJR
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 10:26:22 PM
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lol.... man its a sad case, soon folks will scream "my money getting raped".

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Zeronoz
Friday, December 07, 2012 @ 11:04:19 PM
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Kinda stupid if ya ask me. I mean he failed to take into account the Battlefield series and the upcoming Planetside 2; both is free to play (though the latter is a freemium but hey! Free is free) and both offers a different yet similar feel to CoD.

+ the power to make Activision (or any other companies for that matter) strive belongs to us gamers unfortunately, we are in the midst of a Civil War fought between three factions; the PS3, the 360 and the self-proclaimed Master race of gaming, the PC...

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___________
Saturday, December 08, 2012 @ 6:35:47 AM
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is there ONE day this guy does not make a a$$ of himself?

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Twistedfloyd
Sunday, December 09, 2012 @ 12:05:43 PM
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I hope not. That would run GTA, Red Dead, and Bioshock into the ground. Activision needs to stay away from Take Two.

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Ather
Sunday, December 09, 2012 @ 5:13:37 PM
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Gee, maybe the impossible happened, and a company wasn't out to profitize off of emptying our wallets. This guy is why the economy crashed: wasteful spending. If the WOWwers want to spend 180 a year, good for them. Why should everybody else? So somebody can get richer? Greedy, greedy, greedy.

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xenris
Monday, December 10, 2012 @ 9:40:07 AM
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Is anyone else starting to think that Pachter is a shareholder for Activision :P

Seriously though this idea is terrible, you don't charge people a monthly fee for matchmaking multiplayer with basic stat tracking.

If they did some crazy overhaul to the game and made it more like planetside 2 where the maps can hold 2000 players then maybe they could do it.

In its current state though they wouldn't get away with just putting a monthly fee on the current game.

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COD_death
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 4:32:02 PM
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I would stop buying/playing the game and just go outside for once.

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