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Call of Duty Elite, paying for your own information?

I like the Modern Warfare series of Call of Duty. The first Modern Warfare made me enjoy FPS again after years of burn out. I’m not very good at Call of Duty but that doesn’t mean it’s a not a lot of fun. However, not being a hardcore player, the announcement of the new Call of Duty Elite service doesn’t really excite me but I can’t help but find the concept fascinating.

What makes it so elite anyway?

A new Modern Warfare game is due out in November and with it a new service called Call of Duty Elite. From what I gather, Elite is an application that takes all your gameplay data and makes it pretty. The Elite service will slice and dice all your stats in more ways than you can imagine or ever need. Some screen shots from Elite have been released and I must say they’re lovely, but in the end it’s just a bunch of my own data given back to me (and possibly for a fee).

Regardless what they decide to charge for Elite, it makes me smile seeing an entire video game product dedicated to organizing and visualizing information. Only a huge franchise like Call of Duty has enough loyal and hardcore players to warrant a data service like Elite, and I find it hilarious that all these “hardcore” gamers will end up paying for nothing more than information…on top of the near $100 they’ve already paid for the game, add-ons and other extras. Gamers are paying to give Activision their data, then paying them again to get it back. They are basically preying on gamers’ egos with the Elite service and the amazing thing is, I think it will work.

Mmmm...charts and graphs
Mmmm...charts and graphs

Nothing more than numbers and charts

By giving players more data to chew on, it’s creating more demand to play the game by creating more competition without doing anything new. Gamers by nature want to be better than the next gamer and the more data you have in front of you, the more opportunity there is to be better than someone, even for crappy players like myself. However, the real test for Elite will be if all those fancy charts and diagrams can actually improve your game. And for that reason I hope all the data reports will be the free part of Elite because I’m looking forward to being a test case for gaming data research.

Information can be fun and useful

I’m a sucker for data and Elite promises to give me video game data in a fun and beautiful way. The screen shots alone have already inspired me to improve my own data presentations in games and projects. Too often I find data visualizations wonderful to look at but usually not very useful. The Elite screens have shown me (more so, reminded me) that data can look good while also serving an on-going purpose. We’ve come a long way from simple high score tables and something like Elite is the next evolution.

Don’t get me wrong. I think Elite is a superfluous product that’s sole purpose is to suck more money out of gamers’ pockets, but I admire what it could do and what it could change. Maybe selling game information isn’t anything new. I remember buying game guides during the NES days, but those old guides weren’t based on MY game play or the actions of my friends that are also playing…and they didn’t have any pie charts or bar graphs either.

Will you end up paying for your own information?