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Call of Duty Elite Premium Subscription Priced at $49.99, Members Get Monthly Downloadable Content

At the Call of Duty XP convention in Los Angeles yesterday, Activision announced the price and details of its “Call of Duty Elite” premium subscription service for the Call of Duty series. Developed by Beachhead Studio, the premium service will cost players $49.99 for a one-year subscription.

Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing, made the announcement during a press-only event at Call of Duty XP. The full details of Elite weren’t revealed when the subscription was first announced in May. Activision said it had to wait until the multiplayer sections of Modern Warfare 3 were officially demonstrated so players could understand the service better.

The core ideas behind the Elite service are “Connect, Compete, Improve.” Players can begin all three when Sledgehammer Games’ Modern Warfare 3 launches on Nov. 8 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The standard version of the game will retail for $59.99.

The premium service is aimed not only at the hardcore and dedicated online Call of Duty players, but those who casually play and want to improve their skills. Elite fuses social networking with the Call of Duty franchise multiplayer. While the basic Elite membership is offered for free to all Modern Warfare 3 players, the paid subscription includes many more features than the free version.

One of the highlights of the paid membership is that Elite subscribers get consistent downloadable content for nine months after the launch of Modern Warfare 3. Beginning in early 2012, every month new content will be released for Elite players as part of the subscription. The new content will be multiplayer map packs, Spec Ops missions and new game modes. Hirshberg said Elite will include more than 20 downloadable add-ons that would cost more than $60 to buy separately.

Even when their Elite subscription expires, players will permanently own all the DLC they have received from the service. Whenever someone subscribes for premium membership, they still get access to all previously released content through Elite.

The subscription fee also includes strategies from real expert Call of Duty players to help premium members improve their multiplayer skills, from what weapons to use to how to perform well on a certain map. Elite premium members can level up their clans through online competitions. In doing so players can earn exclusive benefits for their clan.

Paid members can participate in daily and weekly online competitions where they can win virtual in-game and physical prizes like iPads and Call of Duty-themed clothing.

Paid members can join premium groups not available to basic Elite users. They also get all the exclusive multiplayer clan titles and emblems while free members only get one of each. Subscribers get more capacity than regular Elite users to share videos of gameplay footage. Premium subscribers can record and upload up to 24 minutes of high-definition game footage.

Subscribers also get access to “Elite TV,” a channel offering original online television content focused around the Call of Duty franchise. One of the shows is “Noob Tube!,” which features funny commentary over real players’ Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer footage. The show is being produced by the production studio DumbDumb, founded by Jason Bateman and Will Arnett, stars from the television show “Arrested Development.” Bateman and Arnett will provide the commentary for the footage. An animated show called “Cocked Hammers” is also being developed by the two stars. Both shows will debut later this year.

Also in development is “Friday Night Fights, ” produced by film directors Ridley (“Gladiator,” “Black Hawk Down”) and Tony Scott (“Top Gun,” “Enemy of the State”). In the show real people with polar opposite beliefs, interests or lifestyles face off against each other in Call of Duty multiplayer to settle their differences. The show will feature conflicts like those between Republicans vs. Democrats or firefighters vs. cops. The show will also feature celebrity rivalries. The show’s debut date hasn’t been confirmed.

Watch a video preview for Call of Duty Elite:

A one-year subscription to Elite comes in all new copies of Modern Warfare 3’s “Hardened Edition.” Today at the XP event Activision confirmed the version’s price at $99.99. Along with a copy of Modern Warfare 3, the Hardened Edition also includes a steel game case, different game disc artwork, a 100-page booklet, extra in-game content and an Xbox Live Avatar “Juggernaut” costume.

Free Elite features offered to all Call of Duty players are gameplay analyzation, stat tracking over a player’s entire Call of Duty career, clans, social groups and theater mode for basic video sharing.

All Elite members can use social and mobile applications for the Web, smart phones and tablets to track their gameplay stats and other Elite features. All Elite members can also use Facebook integration to play Modern Warfare 3 with anyone on their Facebook friends list.

Check out the official multiplayer video for Modern Warfare 3:

Call of Duty Elite is currently in beta testing with Call of Duty: Black Ops. Players can become a “Founder” by pre-ordering the Elite subscription at retailers like Amazon, Best Buy and GameStop. Players who are Founders will receive an exclusive in-game badge showing their status to other players online. They also will get access to exclusive online events and experience points boosts.

The Call of Duty XP fan event is currently taking place at Raleigh Studios in the Playa Vista suburb of Los Angeles. Activision charged attendees $150 for the event, with all proceeds going to the Call of Duty Endowment charity. The organization helps military veterans find employment and adjust back to civilian living.

Besides fan meetings and discussion panels from the Modern Warfare 3 developers, there’s also live-action scenarios from the Modern Warfare games in paintball competitions and exclusive game reveals for attendees. Other entertainment includes performances by hip-hop musician Kanye West and punk band Dropkick Murphys.

Photo by Activision

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