Call of Duty as an esport – An uncertain future
The last big event in the CoD esports world was the conclusion of the CoD World League. A total of $2 million in prize money were paid out, and the title and trophy went to eUnited, the winters of the tournament. All in all, it was a great event… but after it came nothing.
The esport itself went dark, waiting for more activity from publisher Activision. The pro league itself is also run by Activision, and the company is currently changing things up behind the scenes. The goal is a more Overwatch-like competitive season, with a franchise-based system.
The new League will be run by a former NFL exec, Johanna Faries. So far, seven new franchises have been announced across the world. Paris is the only European one, with six more of them being spread across Northern America. New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Atlanta, Dallas and Minnesota.
These franchises are now up for grabs. At roughly $25 million per team, interested parties can buy up the spots. Playing will begin in the home cities of each of the franchises, with further events taking the teams across the world.
That’s about all that’s known at the moment – currently, pro players are in a bit of suspense, as they don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. We do know that with fewer teams, the competitive scene will get more, well, competitive. Only a portion of current top-level players will be able to participate next season. With a minimum salary of $50k per player and 7-10 players per team, this whole thing isn’t exactly a cheap affair, but it could definitely work out well for the players.
Activision have been quite tight-lipped on the matter, though they have said that anything further is mostly speculation, and much of it is inaccurate – in an official statement, they said the following: “As a matter of policy, we don’t typically comment on rumours and speculation. What we will say however is that there are factual inaccuracies in this reporting. Further information on the future of Call of Duty esports is forthcoming and we look forward to sharing it with the community soon.”
Little is known about things like salary caps and distribution of prize money to players, but it is expected that players will receive at least 50% of their tournament winnings. Anything less would be a bit exploitative. Of course, since this new system is supposed to be here for good, and further expansions to include more teams are already in the cards, the financial perks are supposed to increase, year-to-year. The goal is a total of 28 city-based teams world-wide, and for the currently $25 million slots to be worth around $45 million each.
This would be in keeping with the Overwatch system, where actual earnings wildly exceeded even the most positive of expectations by millions and millions of dollars. As a matter of fact, with an expected first year income of $25 million, the OWL ended up making $82 million. It’s easy to see why this would appeal to Activision for the CoD franchise as well!