Game Court: Is Call of Duty Elite worth the price?

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In Game Court we offer contrasting opinions on a single topic. For this edition we’re debating whether Call of Duty Elite is worth the price. Each side has agreed that while the service does have some good points, it really only comes down to one aspect, the DLC. Both sides agree that offers like Elite TV are fairly worthless and improved weapon stats don’t offer anything worth paying for. Call of Duty players already get similar services online for free from various sources. Each side also agreed that competitive tournaments or servers are something that should have been done a while ago. Other FPS series have had free competitive or ranked servers for years while COD fans have consistently been forced to endure random teammates or opponents with varying skill levels. In the end with a vote of 3-2 we decided that Elite is worth the price, but each side has excellent points that need to be taken into consideration while comtemplating which edition of MW3 you purchase. While you can purchase the subscription for $50, if you purchase the Hardened edition of MW3 you end up saving $10, which both sides also agreed does make a difference.

The Majority Opinion

Why it is worth the price

With contributions by Dan Hoyt and Zach King

 

The question at hand is whether or not a $40-$50 price tag equals the value of the content that will be made available. It boils down to in-game content if we’re going to be perfectly honest. Everything else is fluff. Well, possibly the prizes offered for the “year-round competition.” But those prizes won’t be handed out to everyone, so unless you’re supremely confident in your ability – it’s the in game content. If you mouse over the monthly content here you’ll notice it says new MW3 DLC every month for nine months. We should assume the DLC will start three months after release seeing as Black Ops map packs started Feb 1, 2011. It seems natural this would run until the next Call of Duty title is released

They are advertising 20 pieces of DLC to be spread out over the nine-month period. Nine to twelve multiplayer maps could be a reasonable expectation for this, again when compared with Black Ops. Something to consider is that unlike Black Ops’ Zombies Mode each multiplayer map provides the backdrop for your Survival Mode games – so each new MP map should have that double utility. New Spec Ops missions (set on single player story maps) and new game modes are also listed as part of the DLC content.

When set next to the DLC for Black Ops – 12 MP maps and 8 Zombie maps – it is objectively more content for your dollar. $60 for all of the Black Ops content – some MP maps and some zombies (no crossover) versus $40-$50 for the projected MW3 content – two-for-one maps (MP and Survival) plus more Spec Ops.

The obvious hang-up is for the players who didn’t purchase all of the content for previous titles and/or aren’t certain that they’ll want all of the content for MW3. That’s just fine if it isn’t for everyone. For players who feel dedicated to the series or trust in the development team enough to feel confident that they’ll end up buying all of this content then the “worth” comes down to individual taste. You may like the content or you may not. That’s the same risk you take paying $60 for the game itself. If you plan on playing this game though, then Elite will be the way to go.

 

The Dissenting Opinion

Why is it worth the price?

With contributions by Greg Bortnick

 

Just as with the majority’s opinion, the dissent boils down to in-game content that Call of Duty Elite will offer (I mean who really wants to see Jason Bateman in anything other than Arrested Development?).

The biggest hurdle with Elite is trusting Infinity Ward’s promises of quality downloadable content sight unseen, and is the primary beef in this dissent.

The Black Ops DLC was pretty lackluster. So disappointing, in fact, that both dissenters quit downloading DLC after the first package. No matter who’s developing this time around, before we throw down $40-$50 a year, we need to see what the promised monthly stream of DLC looks like.

The fact that Infinity Ward is being coy in saying “20 pieces of content” will be released makes it a harder sell. The developer needs to commit itself to saying “X multiplayer maps, X Spec Ops maps, etc.” And for the customer who plays nothing but multiplayer, Spec Ops maps don’t add value to the subscription. But the need to offer the sale of individual pieces of DLC is another fight for another time.

With questions about quality and what we’re actually getting for in-game content from Elite, the dissent believes that it doesn’t reach our bar for a worthy buy. Perhaps a good performance from MW3 can change our minds next time around.

On another note, before crunching the numbers for the main dissent, we were already against Elite on principle. Although Infinity Ward typically works hard to balance perks and weapons as best they can, it appears we’re at the head of a slippery slope where paying for game content turns a multiplayer experience into a fight of haves vs. have-nots.

Even if Elite subscribers’ advantages aren’t as over-the-top as better weapons at this point, making them the first to get new DLC maps gives them an unfair advantage, as is argued in this Ars Technica opinion piece. Even if that advantage only lasts a few days, the have-nots will likely spend that few days getting the shit sniped out of them by the in-practice haves who know where all the good hiding spots are.

A recent MW3 promotion gives the haves another advantage. Those who buy Doritos and Mountain Dew can find codes on packaging that gives them time in double XP mode. An affluent junk-food aficionado could stockpile promo code-baring items for the double XP time, leveling faster and reaching perks and weapons faster than others playing without pot-belly enhancers.

We understand that game companies are out to make money on games, but recent steps are showing that one of our favorite shooters is starting down a road of alienating some of its less-well-off fans. We hope this isn’t the start of a trend that turns Modern Warfare into class warfare.

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