A scene from Call of Duty: Black Ops II. (Activision/USA Today)
(USA Today) -- Activision is ditching the subscription portion of its online service Call of Duty Elite and making it available for free in its upcoming video game Call of Duty: Black Ops II.
Early downloads of map packs and other content originally tied to an Elite subscription will now launch as $15 individual packages or as part of a $50 Season Pass featuring four downloads. Like previous years, Black Ops II downloads will appear on Xbox 360 first before launching on the PC and PlayStation 3.
"We've learned a lot in our first year of Call of Duty Elite, and we're very proud that we over delivered on our commitment of playable content to our premium members," said Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg in a statement. "What we have realized is that several of the Call of Duty Elite services which are currently only available to our premium members for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 are things that would further unite, engage and delight our player community. So we are going to make them free for Call of Duty: Black Ops II."
Launched last year with the release of 2011's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, the Elite online service allowed players to track their progress in the game's online components, most notably multiplayer. The revamped version of Elite for Black Ops II will allow all players to create clans and participate in competitions, track activity in the cooperative Zombies mode, and pick up tips and strategies from Call of Duty Elite TV.
As with last year's service, users can visit Elite on the Web or via smartphones and tablets.
When Elite launched last year, Activision offered a $50 subscription option, which gave players early access to game downloads such as multiplayer maps and cooperative missions. The content was made available at a later time to all players.
For Black Ops II, players can buy a $50 season with four different downloads starting in 2013. They can also opt to purchase downloads separately for $15 a piece.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II is available Nov. 13 for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. It will also be available for Nintendo's Wii U console, but no details on post-release downloads were provided.