SAN FRANCISCO--Call of Duty, meet the social network.
Today, Activision announced Call of Duty: Elite, a dedicated social experience for players of the long-running and extremely popular video game franchise.
The service will be initially available this summer to limited numbers ofplayers in beta, and on November 8, all Call of Duty fans will be able to access it when it launches formally alongside the next iteration of the game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Earlier this month, Activision held an invite-only presentation on the Elite service.
The service will be accessible across a number of digital platforms, including all the major video game consoles, Web browsers, and some mobile systems.
Elite is a fairly sophisticated effort aimed at keeping the substantial Call of Duty community--Activision said 20 million people play the game each month--engaged, and creating a new sense of connection among them. The system will allow players to form groups with just about anyone or clans with their friends, play in leagues, share videos of their best action to Facebook and YouTube, see detailed statistics on game play for themselves or their friends, win prizes, and much more.
Activision wants players to think of Elite as something that creates "four pillars" around the game: Career, Connect, Compete, and Improve.
The idea here is that in the Career section, players will be able to see stats about their Call of Duty game play that is much like what you'd see on the back of a baseball card. Examples include winning percentage, kill/death ratios, the results of recent matches, and even a level calculator that estimates how many hours someone will have to play to reach a milestone. Other statistics include number of kills, headshots, assists, and more.
And by being able to see others' stats, players will be given data that can answer one of the most important questions of all in a community like that of Call of Duty: who's better at the game.
With Connect, Elite allows the creation of groups. Any user can be a member of up to 64 groups at a time. They can be based around geography, topics, events, or just about anything that might bring people--even those who don't know each other--together.
In the Compete category, players will see event calendars showing what is going on in the Call of Duty universe. Events can be just about anything from matches to competitions to upload the best video of a tomahawk kill, an Activision representative said. This would also be the section where players would join leagues.
Much of the Elite service will be free, while other premium services will be available for a fee. Activision has not said yet how much it will charge for premium access, but it did say that those who subscribe to the service will get all-you-can-eat access as well as any and all downloadable Call of Duty content. The company also said that Elite will cost less than any comparable service, presumably meaning Microsoft's Xbox Live, or Sony's PlayStation Network. Xbox Live Gold costs $60 a year.
Update 10:14 a.m. PT: This story has been modified with additional information.