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Activision: COD multiplayer never behind pay wall

Although one analyst says Activision might eventually charge for access to Call of Duty multiplayer, exec says in an interview that it will never do such a thing.

Don't worry, you won't need to pay for Black Ops multiplayer.
Don't worry, you won't need to pay for Black Ops multiplayer.

Call of Duty is one of the top multiplayer video games on the market. And Activision won't jeopardize that success by putting it behind a pay wall.

"Are we going to be charging for multiplayer? The answer is no," Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg said to IndustryGamers in a recent interview. "The experience you have out of the box, connecting with the online community to play Call of Duty is absolutely integral to the experience, and we'll never charge for that."

Hirshberg's comments came after Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter told IndustryGamers earlier this month that he could see Activision eventually charging gamers to play online multiplayer in its Call of Duty titles. He reportedly told the gaming publication that he believed Activision would offer "a $5 per month subscription to Black Ops that includes all virtual items for free, plus access to all map packs released as long as the player remains active."

Pachter also reportedly told IndustryGamers that he could see Activision eventually charging $10 per month for a subscription to "all Call of Duty games." A hypothetical $15-per-month offer would give consumers an "all access pass" to play most Activision Blizzard titles online.

But such a plan is something that Hirshberg absolutely rejects. And he once again reiterated to IndustryGamers that Activision would not get into the business of charging for multiplayer in Call of Duty.

"At the end of the day, all I'm trying to get across is I can unequivocally say we will never, ever charge for the multiplayer."

The importance of the multiplayer experience in Call of Duty cannot be underestimated. When Black Ops launched earlier this month, it was an instant online multiplayer hit. According to statistics Microsoft provided to Activision, more than 2.6 million people played Black Ops on Xbox Live on the game's launch day, tallying a total of 5.9 million hours of online gameplay.

Further reading: CNET's Q&A with Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg