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Call of Duty Elite beta hits PS3

At first glance, it is easy to write off the Call of Duty Elite service as Activision trying to milk their most successful franchise for more cash. The bitter and discontent out there are likely still smarting from the four map packs (including the recent zombie-centric Rezurrection map pack) that each run $15, so another fee on top of that isn’t exactly welcome news. Rumors of a subscription model to access the online multiplayer have also been floating around for months, if not years, as analysts have encouraged Activision to begin squeezing.

So when Activision announced a new service for Call of Duty that would require a separate annual fee, saying that it was greeted with skepticism would be a very generous way to put it. Saying it was met with outright hostility in some sectors would be more accurate.

But then we actually saw some of what Elite was all about, first at E3 and more recently at Call of Duty XP. It is more than just stat tracking on steroids, although that is a big part of it. There will be contests, videos on everything from game tips to comedy clips and a lot more to come. Members that shell out the $49.99 annual fee for Elite’s premium service will also receive all the planned map packs and add-ons as part of the cost, and early indications suggest that Modern Warfare 3 will have at least three, if not four map packs, each which will cost users $15 apiece. The service will also be included for those that drop $99 on the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Hardened Edition.

There will also be a free version of the service that will grant several features to users, including career stat tracking, video sharing and more. It is a stripped down version that will appeal to fans interested in improving their skills, but it will miss out on some of the coolest features that the service offers.

But for now the service is still in beta and working out its growing pains. New features are constantly being added, and competitions are running daily. Starting today, PS3 users can now try out the beta version of the service by signing up at the website. Once you are registered, your information and anything you have added will be carried over to the official Elite service, assuming you sign up for the full service.

Call of Duty Elite will exit beta and go live in November, just in time for the November 8 release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

{This article has been updated to clarify the difference between the Elite Premium (subscription service), and the free service}