Today’s multiplayer briefing at XP 2011 contained some key information on how Call of Duty Elite will integrate with the game this November, and exactly what is included with the Premium Membership. “When we announced Elite we wanted to do three things," said Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg. "We didn’t want to take anything away from our fans. We wanted to make the experience better for every COD player out of the box. And we wanted to create a premium membership for our fans who want to go further.”  

 

First, the latest free stuff. MW3 incorporates Facebook integration, so you can see your friend’s in-game names linked with their Facebook identities in the same list. Sledgehammer Games’ Michael Condrey said this kind of integration “takes an anonymous network of COD multiplayer and makes it a real community.” The console and mobile apps were also shown for the first time. Infinity Ward’s Robert Bowling was quick to point out that the console application for Elite “isn’t just a stat site on a TV -- this is a full feature setof Elite designed for your console and controller.” (The Xbox 360 app is on display here at XP.) Meanwhile, the mobile app – which will be available for iOS and Android – offers the ability to create a custom loadout on your phone, then push it to the game. Say you’re talking with friends about tactics over lunch, and they recommend a tweak to your setup. You can now immediately create that loadout with the Elite app and send it back to the game servers. When you get home and fire up your game, that loadout is ready and waiting for you to try out in the game. All of the above features, plus the many more previously announced, are free for all MW3 players. 

 

That naturally led to the paid elements of Elite, and Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg came out to deliver the details. First and foremost, an annual premium membership to Elite will include all the DLC that will be released in the coming year – 20 pieces in total, split up not as quarterly map packs but as monthly content instead. That new content will include multiplayer maps, Spec Ops maps, and game modes.  “You get the content first, and you get it more often,” said Eric. Paid members also can compete for real-world prizes (yes, including Jeeps) in tournaments with not only a robust infrastructure but also live referees. If you like showing off your best moves on video, a premium Elite membership will get you a whopping eight times more storage space for your video uploads; if you’re still acquiring the skills to impress the masses, your membership also grants you access to professionally crafted strategy and analysis videos, which will be continually updated with new insights and advice.  

 

Eric then talked a bit about Elite TV, which is a slate of premium episodic entertainment created by top Hollywood talent who just happen to be big Call of Duty fans, too. Will Arnett & Jason Bateman are working on a series called Noob Tube, with plenty of smack talk paired with community-nominated gameplay footage, while executive producers Ridley and Tony Scott are creating Friday Night Fights, a live-action series that will pit “real life rivals together in multiplayer to battle it out COD style,” according to Eric. These series will only be available to Call of Duty Elite premium members.  

 

The price for an annual Premium Membership to Call of Duty Elite: $49.99, which breaks down to less than $5 a month. Better still, gamers who buy the Hardened Edition will receive a year’s subscription to Call of Duty Elite in the package and receive permanent status as a Founder. Preorders for the Hardened Edition are available at retailers today.

 

If you’re a dedicated Call of Duty player, the benefits are significant – the team has said they wanted Elite’s membership to be a “no-brainer” for Call of Duty’s biggest fans, and it would appear they’ve succeeded.  The Elite team is presenting a panel Friday afternoon; check this site for a report on that later today.