D.I.C.E. Calls CoD Elite’s Launch “Painful”
At the 2012 D.I.C.E. Summit, CEO Eric Hirshberg admitted that, despite Call of Duty Elite‘s success, the company isn’t celebrating just yet, admitting to growing pains during the service’s launch.
I hesitate to talk about Elite, because even though we’ve had some early success with the numbers, it’s far from time for us to be doing any victory laps on Elite.
We had some technological stumbles at launch and that frustrated some of our fans. We’re still making that right. But if we only talk about the things that go as planned then we miss some of the most valuable dialogue that can come out of this.
But players were vocal about more than just tech issues. While lag and an inability to even log into the service are by no means negligible problems, Hirshberg went on to discuss a far more insidious “bug:”
We chose to tell people right out of the gate that while the vast majority of features would be free, there would be a premium membership. A lot people thought we should have waited and show people what they get for the premium membership before talking about its existence. But we knew this question about whether it would be free would immediately be asked. We’d be put on the spot. We chose to be transparent and tell people our intentions from the beginning. The words ‘Call of Duty’ plus the word ‘subscription’ equals ‘unleash blogger hell.’
That was the most painful summer of Google Alerts I’ve ever lived through.
Call of Duty Elite now boasts over 7 million subscribers, with 1.5 million paying a monthly fee, and D.I.C.E. plans to continue supporting the service for the foreseeable future.
Both Elite and XP were experiments in how willing people are to enter a relationship, to treat it more like a brand or a lifestyle. Like I said, we’re a long way from doing victory laps but we’re in it for the long haul. We made it for the right reasons and believe it’s right for players, and if we get it right, we can change the relationship, make the game better and more fun for players.