Case Study: Call of Duty Elite

4 Posted by - January 22, 2013 - Case Studies, Community Platforms, Featured On Homepage

Live Streaming, Elite TV

Over on the right-hand side of the Call of Duty Elite homepage are the service’s two video hubs: the Live Streaming section and the more promotional Elite TV channel. Both of these sections provide users with additional Call of Duty content that they can consume outside of the game.

The Live Streaming section showcases live footage of ongoing Call of Duty: Black Ops II matches, and Elite users can watch players from around the world compete in real time. Like TwitchTV or other live services, this gives players another means of engaging with the game, and helps draw new players to the Call of Duty community.
The Live Streaming page is particularly noteworthy as a community-building tool, as it lets users generate their own content for like-minded players. Activision Blizzard simply provides users with the tools to share and upload their live gameplay, and players around the world then create brand new, up-to-the minute video footage to further engage other players and spread the word about the Call of Duty community. Live Streaming is becoming an increasingly important aspect of growing an online game, and Call of Duty Elite benefits from including this functionality as part of its core feature set.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to post these live videos directly to the Feed section, so it’s difficult to share this content to other Call of Duty Elite members. Viewers can post links to these live streams to Facebook or Twitter, but it seems that Activision Blizzard missed out on a chance to bring even more media content to Call of Duty Elite’s Feed section.

The Elite TV section, meanwhile, is a much more traditional marketing vehicle than the Live Streaming section. Here, users can find trailers, event coverage, and behind-the-scenes segments on Black Ops II and the rest of the Call of Duty brand.
This channel is very promotional in nature, and serves to drive awareness for new Call of Duty games and content. It may not build Elite’s community to the same extent as the Live Streaming page, but it gives Activision Blizzard another channel through which they can encourage sales for Call of Duty content.

The Vault

The Vault, located at the bottom of the Call of Duty Elite homepage, lets users check out the screenshots, videos, and custom games they’ve created while playing Call of Duty. Like the other parts of the site, this gives them access to in-game media at all times, but it isn’t very easy to share this media with other users.
For instance, when players access a screenshot on their vault, they only have one option: To download it to a hard drive. Facebook and Twitter buttons are conspicuously missing, and — once again — there’s no way to send this content to the Feed. The latter omission is especially odd, as players can post screenshots to the Feed if they navigate to that part of the site first.
As it stands, the Vault does very little to build or support Call of Duty Elite’s community. It gives player quick and easy access to their saved media, but beyond that, it doesn’t do much to augment the Call of Duty experience.


After examining each of the major features in the current iteration of Call of Duty Elite, it’s clear that Activision Blizzard is hoping to build its online community not by providing a robust social network, but by giving players the tools they need to learn about the game and improve their skills.

Given the sparse social features throughout the service, Call of Duty Elite clearly isn’t about player communication; it’s about driving engagement by ensuring that players can always access a wealth of information about Call of Duty no matter where they are. As we mentioned above, however, it seems Call of Duty Elite is missing out on a perfect chance to grow the Black Ops II community. If the service offered more channels for player communication, users could more easily form online alliances or rivalries, which would in turn make them even more engaged with the popular shooter.

In its current incarnation, Call of Duty Elite augments the existing Call of Duty games and gives players new channels through which they can interact with Activision Blizzard’s popular franchise. It doesn’t do much to foster online relationships, but gives players a way to compare stats, edit loadouts, and check out Call of Duty media when they’re away from their console. While Elite’s original subscription model positioned the service as a new money-maker for Activision Blizzard, it’s now a much more of a community building tool intended to bolster the rest of the Call of Duty landscape.

As evidenced by an increased number of successful case studies on leveraging Community as a Service, developers and publishers have a lot to gain from these types of community-focused platforms. When developers offer players new ways to engage and influence their favorite games, they often see increased user acquisition, player engagement, and much more. And according to Raptr’s early data, Black Ops II seems to be benefitting from its increased community focus. The game’s multiplayer is showing no signs of slowing down, and it’s likely the changes to Call of Duty Elite influenced Black Ops II’s strong community.

We won’t know the long-term effects of Call of Duty Elite on Black Ops II until the game’s player numbers level out, but as things stand right now, it seems Activision Blizzard’s revised service has had a positive impact overall. There is still has lots of room for improvement, and we hope to see these improvements come to fruition with each new iteration of the game.

Be sure to keep an eye out for even more case studies in the near future, as we plan on looking at even more community-focused services from across the industry.

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