Posted | April 5th, 2019
Call of Duty Esports – On the Verge
The release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare in 2007 was hugely significant in terms of the multiplayer gaming experience which millions of players are familiar with today. Introducing new ways to level up, rewards for completing particular in-game challenges and diverse multiplayer game modes are now core elements for modern day titles. From an esports perspective the release of Modern Warfare enabled a user-created modification (mod) to be used for competitive play known as ProMod. This mod swept the competitive scene by storm and became universally used by esport tournament organisers when running online and offline LAN tournaments with huge cash prizes.
Move forward to the present day and Call of Duty remains one of the biggest selling franchises in gaming history. Its ever-expanding esports presence now boasts a 16-team professional league coupled with a $6,000,000 USD prize pool spread across multiple events around the world, with a season-ending 32 team world championship. Home to a multitude of larger than life personalities, professional Call of Duty players boast some of the highest social media followings in esports. OpTic Gaming captain, Seth “Scump” Abner has accumulated over 2,000,000 Twitter followers and 2,400,000 YouTube subscribers which has greatly assisted in several non-endemic companies expanding into a growing esports industry. In recent years, the soft drink companies Brisk and Mountain Dew have all had their logos imprinted on esport merchandise and are frequently seen sponsoring major esport events across the globe.
The past three years however have been a particularly turbulent time for Call of Duty esports and the CWL (Call of Duty World League). Fan engagement in some titles was below average, yet the money kept being invested by franchise owner, Activision. The end of the 2018 CWL season marked a turning point for Call of Duty esports. After the two previous years failed to live up to expectation, over 300K viewers tuned in to watch the Grand Finals between Evil Geniuses and Team Kaliber. Now producing some significant viewing figures and with increased investment coming in from the top, rumours began circulating about a potential franchise structure coming to Call of Duty.
At the quarterly financial conference, Activision all but confirmed that a city-based franchised league would be coming to Call of Duty esports. Similar to the model used by the highly successful Overwatch League, but a franchised league for Call of Duty may not be the best option. With such a storied history containing some of the biggest names in the entirety of esports, an all-new franchised league would ultimately remove the names that helped build the esports industry to what it is today.
A franchise model like the Overwatch League also has the potential to increase viewership and the total prize pool, making it a lucrative investment from the perspective of new franchise owners looking to acquire a spot in the league and new sponsors that could be looking at Call of Duty as a new investment opportunity.
About Kairos Esports
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