Due to launch this fall alongside "Modern Warfare 3," the next installment in the series, "Elite" will not only give players access to downloadable content for the game, but will offer in-depth tracking of player statistics and an advanced matchmaking service, letting people play multiplayer games with friends or opponents with similar skills.
People who do not subscribe to the service will still be able to play the games online for free.
Analysts have been expecting the move for some time and say Activision-Blizzard seems to have modest initial aspirations for the service, but the company expects to grow "Elite" substantially in the years to come.
"I think Activision hopes to get up to 1 million subscribers this year," says Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities, who predicted the company would begin offering a subscription service for "Call of Duty" last year. "From there, they hope to get it up to 3 million next year, then up to 5 million. Over time, they'd like to migrate everyone over to it."
Activision has not yet announced what Elite's monthly subscription fee will be, though analysts expect the charge to be between $5 and $8 per month.
That would be on top of the $60 players pay for the original game – and, if their preferred platform is Microsoft's Xbox 360, they're likely also paying $60 per year for Xbox Live (which allows them to play online).
That starts to become a high price to pay a video game, but "Call of Duty" has long since transcended the "just a game" category. The franchise has sold over 100 million copies – and when new versions come out each November, they cement a spot at the top of the sales charts for months. Over 7 million people play "Call of Duty" games every day, spending hundreds of hours playing multiplayer matches.
It's a regular habit, too. Activision says the average customer spends 58 minutes per day playing the game – more time than most people spend on Facebook.