In a 4th quarter earnings call on Tuesday, February 12, 2019, Activision Blizzard’s President, Rob Kostich revealed that Activision would be moving to a city-based franchising model a la Overwatch for the Call of Duty Competitive Esports scene next year and beyond.
This announcement came after much speculation over the past couple of years from industry experts and fans that Activision would eventually move to a franchising model like many other popular esports. Franchising presents a better storage place for monetary value for organization owners, and with many new investors and money arriving in esports, establishing a Pro League with franchises has shown to secure significant buy-ins as well as more stable sponsorship.
The most controversial part of this announcement is the decision to establish the franchising model through cities. It shouldn’t be surprising that Activision would implement franchising this way as this is how the Overwatch League was formed. But Call of Duty is not Overwatch; it has been well-ingrained in popular gaming culture for over a decade. During that time, storied organizations in Call of Duty such as FaZe, OpTic, and Envy among many others have developed fan bases and personalities that are in no way limited to single cities or localities. The idea that an OpTic fan of 10 years would suddenly become a FaZe fan because they are arbitrarily located closer to FaZe’s franchise city is ludicrous.
Moreover, it’s not like Call of Duty is gaining fresh fans (like Overwatch did with it being a relatively new game). It has maintained its fan base for several years now, and the idea of sectionalizing fan engagement or appeal seems like it will just be ignored by the community.
This announcement does put some pressure on Infinity Ward to develop a popular game that will attract substantial investment and sponsorships, but Activision’s Chief Financial Officer gave the game some strong early praise, stating that it will be “one of the best Call of Duty’s ever built.”
All of this points to an exciting new year for Call of Duty Esports. In the meantime, you can check out this year’s Call of Duty Pro League action taking place right now in Columbus, Ohio on weekdays beginning at 3:00 PM EST on www.twitch.tv/callofduty or on ESTNN TV.
Image via; KL Gadget Guy