Activision launches limited beta test for Call of Duty Elite social network

Activision Blizzard has launched the beta test for its Call of Duty Elite social network. It’s time to armor up.

The beta test began today on the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live online gaming service. The rollout will proceed in phases as the company tests the social network, which is dedicated to the Call of Duty series of games. Call of Duty Elite is an attempt to deeply engage gamers in a service that extends their enjoyment of the most popular combat video game series in history.

The series has more than 30 million active players who play Call of Duty Black Ops and other titles on multiplayer. Activision Blizzard said it has already received Elite registrations totaling 2.8 million players. Those players will get invites over time to join the beta. The social network will formally launch on Nov. 8 with the release of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, the latest in the modern combat series.

Chacko Sonny, studio head at Beachhead Studio (the developer of Call of Duty Elite), said that the company is seeking feedback from fans to tune and test the service. He said the service will continue to evolve after its launch as developers polish the system.

“We ask that fans be patient as we ramp up in the coming weeks,” Sonny said.

Call of Duty Elite will allow fans to connect with friends, compete against them, find gamers of similar skill or interests, join groups or clans, and play in organized competitions. It will let users track their own progress in multiplayer gaming and log in from multiple devices. The system dynamically tracks player stats and offers feedback that they can use to get better at the games. Call of Duty Elite will host formal events and competitions on a regular basis.

Activision Blizzard plans to let users play multiplayer games and enjoy parts of Elite for free. But it also plans to offer premium services for a subscription fee. Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, said Activision Blizzard may lose some players who are angry about having to pay for extras. He said they may instead opt for Electronic Arts’ Battlefield 3, which will have its own social network when the game debuts Oct. 25.