EA will eventually launch its own premium subscription based Battlelog service in a move to emulate Activision's Call of Duty: Elite, Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter has predicted.
Elite launches on November 8 alongside Modern Warfare 3, while Battlelog is a free service for this October's Battlefield 3. On a free level, each service offers comparable statistic tracking, friend management and social networking.
However, Pachter believes the success of Elite will convince EA to follow suit.
"We expect the $50/year premium Elite membership plan to be very popular with Call of Duty's hard core gamers," wrote Pachter. "At $50/year, Elite membership is a no-brainer for those who plan to purchase all of Modern Warfare 3's DLC, as the annual spend will presumably decrease by at least $10 (last year's Call of Duty: Black Ops had four map packs that cost $15 each, for a total spend of $60).
"There were 18 million map packs sold in the first six months this year, comprising three different packs: we believe that 1 million consumers bought all three, 3 million bought two packs, and 9 million bought one apiece. Thus, we expect that at least 1 million will sign up for the premium Elite membership by year end. The Call of Duty network effect may be amplified by premium Elite, such that if a gamer's friend purchases premium Elite and gets access to premium maps, the gamer may feel compelled to purchase premium Elite in order to compete as early and as often as possible. We expect the network of premium Elite subscribers to grow to critical mass within a few years, with 3 million likely subscribers by year-end 2012 and 5 million by year-end 2013."
He added: "Although Battlelog and non-premium Elite memberships are free and offer many similar features, we think that many hard core Call of Duty gamers will opt for premium Elite, particularly if the total DLC spend for Battlefield 3 is expected to exceed $50. Ultimately, we expect Electronic Arts to emulate Activision and charge for Battlelog by including map packs with the service for a $50 fee."
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