Acti: Online part of the COD "package"

Again insists it won't charge for multiplayer.

Activision has once again promised gamers it will never charge them for playing Call of Duty multiplayer.

That's never ever. Never ever. Never ever. Never ever.

"Are we going to be charging for multiplayer? The answer is no," insisted Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg to Industry Gamers.

"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. It's not going to be something we'll attempt to monetize; it's part of the package."

Hirshberg's assertion comes amid increasingly vocal expert predictions that Activision will seek to make more money from those who play Call of Duty games online on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network.

Outspoken analyst Michael Pachter has perhaps been most vehement in this regard, but, according to Hirshberg, it's all codswallop.

"Nothing we or anyone else tries is going to work if it doesn't have tremendous value for people and add a tremendous value to the gaming experience.

"He's [Pachter] probably looking at meta-trends in the world and in culture about online services and new ways things should be monetized from Netflix to cloud-based computing. So there are certainly a lot of behavioural shifts towards long-standing online relationships... But 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."

Hirshberg is of course backing up comments made by his boss, CEO Bobby Kotick.

In September Kotick insisted that consumers who have just bought a new game should not be expected to hand over further cash for online play.

"That's what people are paying their $60 for," he explained. "They get a game that has a lot of replayability.

"We've seen our margins and audiences expand from providing more appealing gameplay. I think why Call of Duty has been so successful is because we're delivering extraordinarily high quality gameplay, production values and interactivity at great value."

In July the combined forces of publisher Activision and developers Infinity Ward and Treyarch told gamers that they will never have to pay extra to play Call of Duty online after the appearance of a video that suggested a "membership" was required to play Call of Duty on Xbox Live.

All this madness stems from Kotick himself, who said in June that if he could do one thing he would make Call of Duty "an online subscription service" as soon as tomorrow.

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