Call of Duty Online, the free-to-play FPS from Activision, has launched in China. The game is essentially a free version of Modern Warfare, retrofitted with a Chinese user interface through partner Tencent.
Kotaku reports that this could signal a change to the Chinese gaming landscape, letting an official Call of Duty game overtake its numerous imitators.
"Tencent's offering of COD:OL may cannibalize Tencent's own lineup, as Tencent is the nation's largest provider of first person shooters," Yin Jun of Chinese analyst firm NetEase said. "In the long run COD:OL might affect how FPS games are made in China. These triple A titles have a sphere of influence and it doesn't matter when they show up. Their popularity really only depends on what the games offer for Chinese players, if they are able to cater to Chinese players they will be popular."
Free-to-play rules the roost in many Asian territories, much more than in western gaming. Given the success of Activision's for-pay model with the franchise, it's unlikely that this effort will come to the west any time soon.