Activision’s Call of Duty Online has officially begun its assault on gamers in China.
In the works for more than three years, the free-to-play first-person game is now in open beta testing, which means the game publishers are ready to “open the floodgates,” said Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg.
Developed with leading Chinese Net company and game publisher Tencent, Call of Duty Online brings Activision’s billion-dollar franchise to China’s millions of online gamers.
“We have been going through this very intense testing of the game under larger and larger audiences of consumers,” he said. “We wanted to make sure it was sticky and compelling … and it was a fun, easy experience for anyone to pick up and play and have a good time with.”
China represents a massive opportunity for the video game maker. About 700 million play video games on Tencent’s own QQ network, says Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter. And video game revenues in China hit $15 billion last year.
Both Microsoft and Sony last year announced plans to market their console game systems in China. However, Sony said last week said it would delay the Jan. 11 PlayStation 4 launch in China with negotiations ongoing.
During a closed beta conducted July-September last year, about 1.5 million players were involved.
“The Chinese market is the biggest gaming market and we built this game with that scale in mind,” Hirshberg said. “I think we are ready for whatever scale we can achieve.”
In addition to single-player missions, Call of Duty Online also has a multiplayer and cooperative modes, as well as a Cyborgs game that is based loosely on the zombie mode found in many past Call of Duty games.
Activision readies ‘Call of Duty Online’ video game in China
While Call of Duty is primarily played on console game systems in the U.S., this new online game is played on personal computers in China. Players can play for free or spend money to buy items and upgrades.
“It’s modeled after all the best-performing games, both in that marketplace and worldwide,” Hirshberg said. “Everything from weapons to characters to cosmetic items, which are designed for personalization and expression, to attachments, are purchasable and earn-able as well. It really depends on how you like to play. You can grind your way or you can pay to cut to the front of the line in terms not having to grind through as much gameplay to reach the end of something.”