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Call of Duty to get Elite subscription service

After months of speculation, Activision has finally come clean over its plans to squeeze more cash out of its spectacularly popular first-person shooter series Call of Duty.

Fears that the entire multi-player experience would be hidden behind a paywall using a monthly subscription service akin to that of World of Warcraft have been allayed by an announcement made by the game-maker a short while ago.

Activision says its forthcoming Call of Duty Elite service, which has been designed from the ground up by Beachhead, will offer "cutting-edge features that significantly enhance the franchises' multiplayer experience and deliver a new level of social engagement that will unite more than 30 million players worldwide."

Many of the additional services on offer seem to revolve around enhanced community interaction, or 'social networking' to use this year's favourite buzz-phrase.

"The average Call of Duty player spends 58 minutes per day playing multiplayer. That is more than the average Facebook user spends per day on Facebook. And yet, right now, there are very few tools to unite and super-charge that social community," burbled Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing.

"Whether it's allowing you to connect with your friends, or people of a similar skill level, people who live in your city, people who share your favorite passions, join competitive clans or social groups, or upload, view and comment on the incredible mass of player-generated content, or watch and comment on exclusive created content, Call of Duty Elite will give people more ways to connect with fellow players than ever before," Hirshberg markeingspoke. "Elite will also allow players of every level to improve their game with an intuitive suite of tools, and compete in tournaments for both real and virtual prizes."

Activision is staying tight-lipped about how much the service, which will get round of public beta testing with CoD: Black Ops this summer, will cost, but the smart money reckons it will be around a fiver a month.

The finished service will be rolled out at the same time as CoD: Modern Warfare 3.

Cheapskate gamers won't miss out on all of the action with Activision promising that many of the features of the Elite offering will be available free of charge.