Call of Duty: Raising the cost of playing?

It’s not hard to increase the cost of something from free, but that is what might be in store for Call of Duty online play. Activision will be doing this by the end of the year as per prediction by analyst Michael Pachter.

During an interview with IndustryGamers, Pachter pointed to the issue of free online play fostering strong replay factor which, while being good for gamers, is leaving publishers coming up short. In the month of June software sales fell 15%, making it the fourth month this year of declining numbers.

“We think this is a continuing problem,” said Pachter, “and think that unless and until the publishers come up with a business model that appropriately captures the value created by the multiplayer experience, we are destined to see a migration of game playing away from packaged goods purchases and toward multiplayer online.”

Enter the Call of Duty series. “We estimate a total of 12 million consumers are playing Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 for an average of 10 hours per week on the two platforms’ respective networks.”

So what’s a game publisher to do?

“We think that it is incumbent upon Activision, with the most popular multiplayer game, to take the first step to address monetization of multiplayer. It is too early to determine whether that will be a monthly subscription, tournament entry fees, microtransaction fees, or a combination of all three, but we expect to see the company take some action by year-end, when Call of Duty Black Ops launches,” stated Pachter.

What this means for publishers? A large untapped resource of revenue.  What this means for players? More fees on the horizon with the potential of new precedents in how online play is dealt with and managed.