CALL OF DUTY HAS BIG PLANS – ARE THEY dreamy?
Franchising is a regularly practised concept in the world of sports, where clubs may have different owners, coaches and players but remain in the same place and under the same name. This notion relies heavily on location and also, quite a bit of money. Overwatch steered franchising straight into esports in 2017, achieving debatable success in the initiative set by Activision while League of Legends followed suit in 2019. Now, Call of Duty, another esports title under Activision, seems to be heading in the same direction – but is the aged idea of franchising relevant or even beneficial for the esports industry? Let’s discuss.
The announcement to franchise Call of Duty, the world’s largest console esports title, came as quite the surprise to me. Revealed earlier on in the season, the franchising will commence alongside the next iteration of the Call of Duty World League or CWL. It came as a surprise to me since CoD is not the largest esport, and franchising requires an incredible amount of funds and above all else – in a community where the opinion of the videogame franchise changes every year, it’s rather dangerous to rely on it. That’s a general problem with generating a scene for competitive Call of Duty – the title changes every year with new mechanics, maps, weapons and strategies to implement and by the time everyone has mastered the title and games are most competitive a new title releases and the cycle repeats. Bearing in mind that I’m a fan of CoD esports, let’s learn of the positives and negatives of this upcoming franchising after understanding what it is.
Franchising is a competitive model in which organizations buy their way in; filling a constant and unchallenged spot in the league for a given price. Apart from that, franchised roster must standardise minimum salaries, offer services and training to their players. This system is very different from the one in place for Call of Duty at the moment, which is completely based on merit and shouting your name loud enough to be heard. Do note that I am no expert, and am learning about franchising together with you, the reader.
ADVANTAGES OF FRANCHISING
The big winners here are, of course, the corporate body of MLG and Activision Blizzard. Hosting LAN events, with a $20M bid rate to buy into the league, there is profit to be made should organizations take the initiation to fill in those spots. This addition of funs could help with viewership, as production, event prize pools and game support will increase – this effect will only grow with the addition of sponsors which are imperative to the success of a league. Players involved in these franchised organisations will also be provided more stability and care as a personality in the scene. They themselves will become more talented and sought out for in the transfer market.
DISADVANTAGES OF FRANCHISING
In my opinion, these are especially worth noting considering the state of Black Ops 4 at the moment. While there are massive advantages for well-known players and the administrative aspect, other personalities do not benefit. Organizations who cannot afford the staggering prices will be forced out of the competitive scene; this also means that newcomers into Call of Duty will find a tougher time trying to find a start.
Also, established teams such as Optic Gaming, FaZe Clan and the new 100Thieves could be forced to rebrand too. If it’s anything like the OWL, than competitors will also be disallowed to stream practice, which is popular in Call of Duty.
Is this the right move for Call of Duty?
Analysts are still debating whether franchising is indeed successful in esports – Overwatch and League of Legends both have different takes on the matter but both had a larger community fanbase than Call of Duty. Apart from that, Call of Duty depends on yearly new games, which makes for a fluctuating fanbase depending on the developer. Above all, however, removing a merit-base system would have made it impossible for new talent in Black Ops 4, such as Dashy, Huke, Simp, Havok, Envoy, Cellium, Asim, Priestah and the list goes on! A big part of the title is merit-based performance in smaller teams – which I know for a fact won’t afford a $20 million franchise spot.
Personally, I’m highly sceptical that franchising Call of Duty will be a long-term success, but if it is, I’ll enjoy my error. Perhaps the upcoming title will be as promising as it seems to be. Let us know your thoughts about esports franchising in the comments section below! Should CS:GO give it a shot?
If Call of Duty finds success, I expect many other esports titles to follow suit in franchising.