While the presence of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 on Wii U represents the first time a Call of Duty title has had a major release at parity on a Nintendo platform, the lack of clarity on its online offerings has been worrisome.
When asked if the Wii U release would be a "first class" Call of Duty citizen, meaning "compatibility with the full suite of Elite services, the Season Pass, and individual Map Packs," Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg answered, "That's our goal, but the honest answer here, Chris, is that we're still working out the details with Nintendo." This morning, Activision announced that the Call of Duty Elite service would be entirely free, dropping the previous "premium" tier in favor of the more traditional á la carte Map Pack or Season Pass offerings.
Polygon has reported on the opacity of the Wii U's promised "Nintendo Network," which was all but invisible at last month's Wii U press event in New York City, and the presence of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 without any mention of online functionality was a key concern then. Now, one month after that event and just under one month from the Wii U's November 18 release date, not only do we not have the details on how online will compare on Nintendo's new console, but neither do its biggest partners.
"We certainly want Call of Duty to be a consistent experience across all platforms," Hirshberg told Polygon. "But each platform, as you know, has different strengths, which lend themselves to different features. Instead of giving you an incomplete answer today, let us go through that process and come back with a more definitive answer in the near future."
So while Activision has announced that Call of Duty Elite will be completely free, we don't yet know if those services will extend to the Wii U release of the game. And while the DLC will be made available for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC with the aforementioned Map Pack or Season Pass options, there's no clarity on when or if the Wii U release will have any DLC support.
Hirshberg is quick to point out that Activision is "incredibly pleased with the gameplay and graphic fidelity" of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 on the Wii U, and to suggest that "those essential elements absolutely qualify it as a "first class" Call of Duty experience." It remains to be seen if audiences will agree should the Wii U release fail to match the online offerings of its peers.