news\ Jul 3, 2012 at 10:51 am

Free-to-play Call of Duty Online announced for China

Call of Duty Online, a new free-to-play game based on the "rich multiplayer experience" of the Call of Duty franchise, has been revealed by Activision Publishing and Chinese partner Tencent.

The newly formed strategic relationship between the two companies will bring Call of Duty Online to Chinese game players. Under the multi-year agreement with Activision Publishing, Tencent has the exclusive license to operate Call of Duty Online in the mainland China region.

"We are very excited about our relationship with Tencent and the opportunities for gaming in China," said Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. "We think China is one of the most exciting places in the world for us to grow our business and to develop innovative new games."

"Tencent is an ideal partner for Activision to bring Call of Duty Online to China," Kotick added. "Tencent has a terrific track record of customer-focused innovation and deep market knowledge that will be invaluable to Activision as we build great games for China."

"We have worked closely with Tencent to create a game with broad appeal for the Chinese market. We look forward to laying the foundation for a long-standing relationship with Tencent and to launching a new and unique experience for fans," he concluded.

Call of Duty Online will feature a new gaming model designed specifically for the Chinese market. As previously mentioned, the game will be free-to-play and monetized by microtransactions through the sales of in-game items. Players will be able to personalize their weapons, characters, and equipment using the in-game store to purchase weapons, gear, and perks "built specifically for the Chinese market".

Martin Lau, President of Tencent, said, "We are thrilled to work with the world's premiere game developer and publisher to bring this much-awaited title to Chinese game players."

"We believe Call of Duty Online will attract tens of millions of loyal fans in China," he added, "and our game platform and operational expertise to run massive multi-player online games can provide strong support to deliver the immersive and highly interactive game experience to game players in China."

Call of Duty Online has been in development for "approximately two years". The new game will add a variety of game modes and maps, and features an original story told through a series of Special Operations missions that will be based on the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare universe. However, some fans noticed that the new trailer shows only maps from Modern Warfare 2 and Call of Duty 4.

While the game is currently only being announced the Chinese region, it begs to question, could this be Activision's new approach with Call of Duty? Could the future of Call of Duty be online gameplay only with the option to purchase a single player campaign? It's no secret that Activision, Treyarch, and Infinity Ward have been placing more of an emphasis on the multiplayer component of the game lately. If Activision could separate the online and single player portions, we could finally get a decent single player experience created by a separate team, rather than one that feels tacked on.

No release date for Call of Duty Online was announced, but there is an official site that currently has a countdown.

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