Last week industry analyst Michael Pachter said that multiplayer components of PC and console games were driving overall sales down. To combat this problem, he suggested that Activision should charge for online play--as seen with MMORPG subscription services--starting with its upcoming game, Call of Duty Black Ops.
A supposed "leaked" video then surfaced Monday indicating that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on Xbox Live would introduce a subscription service for the game's online mode. The video depicts the Xbox Live menu from Modern Warfare 2 showing terms such as "add Microsoft points," "membership," and "balance." This may be indicative of absolutely nothing, however rumors heated up nonetheless.
Since the video's release, Activision, Treyarch and Infinity Ward have released statements assuring gamers that they will never be required to pay a subscription fee to play online. "This video shows just a glitch-- since you can access a Live subscription renewal from within the MW2 game interface, it appears some data got jammed between two parts of Live," said Activision's Dan Amrich in his blog. "It's not a secret portal to some nefarious plot to charge people for COD multiplayer--and there are no plans to do that."
Infinity Ward's Robert Bowling followed up in his blog by adding that "there is not, and will never be, additional fees required to subscribe and play Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer." As for Black Ops, Treyarch's community manager confirmed on Twitter that a subscription model would not be applied to the game. To round out the rumor bashing, Activision rejected reports that it's adding subscription memberships with Modern Warfare 2.
"Activision has no plans to charge gamers to play Call of Duty multiplayer," the company said. But clearly, the company left the doors open to change its plans down the line.