Call of Duty Online launches in China

Activision’s new free to play online game for Chinese fans, Call of Duty Online, has officially launched in China as an open beta.
Developed by Raven Software, Tencent, and Activision Publishing China, Call of Duty Online is a free to play online of Modern Warfare series. According to Kotaku, Activision’s COD: Online is basically just a free to play Modern Warfare on PC with a Chinese client and UI.

“Tencent’s offering of COD:OL may cannibalize Tencent’s own lineup, as Tencent is the nation’s largest provider of first person shooters,” Yin told Kotaku. “In the long run COD:OL might affect how FPS games are made in China.”

SOURCE: Kotaku via @RobsStang


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‘Call of Duty Online’ to get a Global Release?

“I think we look at the Call of Duty Online game in China on its own merit as a great opportunity,” he explained.

“That’s not to say that we won’t gain learnings about how it works in the micro-transaction-based format for the game.
Call of Duty Online could eventually release in other territories, Activision has hinted.

Responding to questions from investors, Activision’s Eric Hirshberg said that the game’s micro-transaction formula could be relevant in other regions.

“And there are a few other regions where that would be very relevant… but we certainly are not ready to announce any plans in that regard.”

During the same financial call, it was revealed that Call of Duty: Elite premium subscribers topped 2.3 million and that the service had 12 million registered users.

It was also revealed that Call of Duty DLC sales were down on recent years, which led to Hirshberg hinting at a new approach to delivering content.

Call of Duty Online was announced for China last month.

Funded by micro-transactions, it will feature numerous maps and game modes, as well as an original story told through Spec Ops missions.

It was seemingly confirmed when Kotick spoke about a digital-only service during an investors’ call in 2011.

The company launched the subscription-based Call of Duty Elite alongside last year’s Modern Warfare 3

[via Digital Spy]

Activision Blizzard CEO Talks Risks of Bringing Game to China

Activision Blizzard’s CEO, which is partnering with Chinese Internet Service Provider, Tencent Holdings, to bring its popular Call of Duty titles to Chinese users, says the move is a big risk because of China’s free-to-play gaming market.

“It’s a really big risk, and there’s a lot of uncertainty when you go into new markets and try new business models,” Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard told CNBC Asia’s “Squawk Box”.

“[But] I think in this case, Tencent has a lot of insights into these types of games, and the game’s been in development for 2 years and they’ve been very, very generous with providing that insight, and hopefully it will materialize into something that’s a great experience for players,” he added.

Activision and Tencent have agreed to develop the Chinese version of the wildly popular first-person shooting game in a Shanghai based studio. According to the agreement, Tencent has exclusive rights to operate Call of Duty Online, the working title for mainland China.

The latest release in the Call of Duty series, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 grossed $775 million within five days of its worldwide release in November 2011 – a new record.

Activision Blizzard is also responsible for other online game titles such as World of Warcraft, and the more recent Diablo 3. However, this is the company’s first foray into a completely free-to-play business model.

“One of the things that we’ve learned in taking our intellectual properties to different markets is that you have to be compatible and consistent with the way that people play in the market that we operate in,” said Kotick. “And in China, that is largely free-to-play with virtualized sales, sometimes paying for time, but it’s a different business model and we’re racing for China.”

Tencent is the company behind China’s most-used instant messaging service, QQ, with 752 million active users recorded at the end of the first quarter this year. The company posted annual revenue of $4.5 billion in 2011, a 45 percent increase over the previous year.

The Chinese online gaming sector has been growing approximately 33 percent year-on-year to $1.78 billion in the first quarter of 2012, according to Zacks Investment Research in a report in July.

As for worries about intellectual property infringements, Kotick is confident that it wouldn’t be an issue to contend with. “These [online] games don’t really lend themselves well to piracy; there are individual experiences that are specific to user IDs, and it’s not the same as selling physical goods.”

Source: CNBC –

Call of Duty to launch in China as free online title

An online-only version of the massively popular video game Call of Duty is to be made available to play in China.

Developer Activision has teamed up with Chinese internet service provider Tencent on the free-to-play title.

The game will earn income through the sales of in-game items.

Activision boss Bobby Kotick said: “We think China is one of the most exciting places in the world for us to grow our business and to develop innovative new games.”

“We have worked closely with Tencent to create a game with broad appeal for the Chinese market,” he added.

The game will also feature a storyline developed specifically for the local market.

Public testing

The game has been in development for two years at a games studio in China.

According to the Wall Street Journal, it will be released for public testing later this year, following a regulatory review.

The company said gamers would be able to use an in-game store to “enhance their weapons, gear, and perks built specifically for the Chinese market”.

Tencent, which is a major player in the Chinese market, offers several internet services, including Tencent Weibo, a Twitter-like microblogging site.

Its instant messaging service, Tencent QQ, has more than 600 million users.

This is not the company’s first foray into computer gaming. It already runs several online games, as well as owning a small stake in Epic Games.

Tencent’s president, Martin Lau, said: “We believe Call of Duty Online will attract tens of millions of loyal fans in China, and our game platform and operational expertise to run massive multi-player online games can provide strong support to deliver the immersive and highly interactive game experience.”

Source: BBC Technology –