Activision: Elite "needs to be in" the next Call of Duty

The future of the digital platform revealed.

Elite "needs to be in" the next Call of Duty, Activision has said.

The next Call of Duty, heavily rumoured to be Black Ops 2 by Treyarch, will no doubt launch in November, as is the way with gaming's biggest brand.

To coincide with the release, publisher Activision plans to make Elite, its stat tracking and COD culture platform, better integrated into the new game than it currently is with Modern Warfare 3.

On PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Elite is an app you access from the dashboard. Although there is some integration with the game, it is not seamless.

This, Activision producer Noah Heller told Eurogamer, will change with Elite 2.0, the codename for "what we're thinking for this year's coming game".

"All we're really saying about it at this point is integration is the word of the day," he said. "It needs to be in the game. It needs to be tightly wrapped with game features. And that's our focal point.

"We'll be back at some point to talk about that game, and when we do, we'll reveal a lot more.

"Long term, we're making Elite and the game synonymous. If you want to play solo or single-player, you might never notice Elite. But the moment you dip your toe into multiplayer, you're part of Elite. It's just up to you whether you take full advantage of the features or not."

Elite 2.0 was first mentioned by Activision during an investor call. It sparked confusion among players who thought plans might have been in place to release a new client they'd have to subscribe to alongside their existing Elite subscription.

This isn't the case, as players will find when the next COD launches.

All we're really saying about it at this point is integration is the word of the day. It needs to be in the game. It needs to be tightly wrapped with game features. And that's our focal point.

"It's really an evolution," Heller explained. "You'll still have access to everything you do here, it's just we'll be doing a number of new things as well.

"2.0 is an internal codename, so we probably shouldn't be using that externally, because it can be a little confusing. We should have called it Elite Zimbabwe.

"When we start looking towards the next game, our focus is on in-game integration. The features that have captured player imagination are things like push to game, seeing your clan elements in the game itself. And so our absolute focus for this year is on deeper and deeper integration.

"I'm not allowed to say more than that right now, but if you understand what's been working for us so far, you'll see where we're headed in the future."

Better integration is Activision's long-term goal for Elite. In the shorter term, new features will be added to improve on what has, for the publisher, been a remarkably successful, albeit controversial, launch.

Clans, which Activision stealth-launched in early December, have been a particular highlight. "We didn't tell anyone when we turned it on," Heller revealed. "We just turned it on one day. Within a minute we had 40 clans. Those were users sitting on the page and hitting refresh over and over again. And at 3pm on a Wednesday, they were able to start their clan."

Within a day there were 25,000 clans. Right now, there are 670,000 clans, each with up to 100 members. Now, Activision has promised to devote attention to expanding this part of Elite.

Elite TV, which includes unique video content based on the game, will also be expanded. Season two of competition show Friday Night Fights is being made with Ridley Scott's production company, and will riff off of the format used by the likes of X-Factor and Top Chef.

Two new shows are planned: Noob Tube, with Will Arnett and Jason Bateman, will pull user-generated content from the community, such as screenshots and videos, into a funny clip show. The other is an animated show called Cocked Hammers.

Call of Duty Elite trailer needs you to join up

Negotiator is a really good experiment for us. How close can you come to something that feels like it would belong in the campaign?

Heller confirmed that Activision plans to end the year having released at least 24 pieces of DLC for MW3 - up from the promised 20. But this could rise further in what is the biggest DLC package ever created for Call of Duty.

"Off the back of a launch that was difficult, and announcements before the launch where people didn't really understand the offering, we're not only adding 20 per cent more content for free, we're adding new features," he said. "We're showing a continued commitment to make it really worthwhile to be part of Elite. That's been popular with the players.

"I'm allowed to tell you guys a little hint of the future. For the near future, with Modern Warfare 3, with each successive drop we'll be releasing new issues of Dropzone (online magazine built into Elite), new little tweaks and improvements to the game, the console app, to mobile, to the site itself."

Xbox 360 Elite premium subscribers were the first to get the recently released new maps: Black Box, Black Ice and Negotiator.

Negotiator is a co-op Spec Ops mission Heller said wouldn't be out of place in Modern Warfare 3's bombastic campaign.

Does it indicate proper, fully-fledged campaign DLC is in the works?

"I don't think we have anything to say as far as content like that," Heller said. "But I will say Negotiator is a really good experiment for us. How close can you come to something that feels like it would belong in the campaign? I was at an event at GDC where some folks were playing it, and I see how people are into it. I'm sure we're going to take some good learnings from that.

"It's really cool to play a mission that feels like something that came in the box, and yet you got it for free by being an Elite subscriber."

Call of Duty Elite video details clan operations

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