Throw in Apex Legends too, but not as bad as Call of Duty.
The Call of Duty League, Activision’s $25,000,000 pride and joy, has been catching quite a hefty amount of flack since it’s inception in 2019. The most egregious offense was the 25 million buy in per team, but the list goes on whether it be the titles not being built with competitive in mind, online only play due to COVID but the servers were god awful (clearly understandable) and more.
Fans and pros have been pretty upset for awhile, which is rightfully deserved. So when a challenger emerges in the form of Halo Infinite/Halo Competitive Series, and they do everything Call of Duty hasn’t done to perfection, it’s going to really stir up the pot.
This post might come off as a rant, but I’ll try my best to keep this organized and professional. This also isn’t meant to direct hate towards either scenes.
Call of Duty; the writing is on the wall.
November 16th brought about the above tweet from Halo outlining the 2021-2022 season for competitive Halo. The roadmap included all the tournaments, partners, prize pools (which includes crowdfunding), maps/modes and more for all of the participating regions. Not to mention, the game launched 24 hours beforehand and had team skins ready at launch.
Listen, now this might not sound like anything cool, but the esports world was quick to point out the differences in operations between Halo and Call of Duty.
Now you’re probably wondering why any of this is a big deal. Let’s go through some of the major points.
Crowdfunding: Per the roadmap, a small percentage of revenue earned through in game purchases will be put towards the HCS prize pools all season long. Pair that with the already high base prize pool of $3,000,000, and you’ve got a healthy recipe for success and competition.
Maps/Modes: This one should be standard across all competitive titles, but Halo managed to launch with maps and modes combos ready to go. To put it in perceptive, Activision has yet to announce the third game mode for the CDL, and the first Challengers event was supposed to start this weekend (but fortunately got delayed).
Twitch drops/Co-Streaming: This is just my personal belief, but if you want your title to do numbers during big events, open co-streaming and an engaging drop system is the way to get said numbers up. Look at how VALORANT is doing it with a series of big streamers being allowed co-streaming access of the major events and the occasional event gives you drops to use in game. Halo is reportedly bringing co-streaming in the future, open to any streamer (this is huge) and a partnership program with exclusive drops. Not to mention the matches will be broadcasted on Twitch and YouTube.
Esports Store: This point is similar to crowdfunding, but the game launched with dedicated team skins and a significant amount of the proceeds go to the teams.
Smaller tournaments: This one may be a bit of a stretch, but an interesting piece of info was that Halo will be hosting online FFA (free for all) tournaments and at live events for cash prizing. This helps players get their names out there and is intended to create a healthy amateur scene.
Finally, we will be hosting regular online FFA tournaments in each of 4 regions for cash prizing, as well as an open FFA tournament for $5,000 at each of the live events. Not only is FFA a fan-favorite mode, but is also important for discovering new talent in the scene and giving players without teams a path to compete in the HCS.HCS 2021-2022 Season Reveal
Franchising: This isn’t in the notes because it’s not in this scene. Non-franchised leagues are the best because it gives us fans opportunities to discover players/teams a franchised league would bury behind walls of rules and regulations. *COUGH COUGH* CALL OF DUTY *COUGH COUGH*.
So from my basic understanding, Halo set out to do something in mind, and they’re doing a pretty damn good job. November 20th-21st marked the first event of the year, the NA Open Series, which saw OpTic Gaming take home the crown over Cloud9. The Open Series was streamed on both Twitch and YouTube and peaked at about 56,000 viewers on Twitch, according to TwitchTracker. My Twitter timeline was full of congrats being showered to OpTic, but also to the team that managed to put this all together.
Jake’s tweet hits pretty hard when you realize that the CDL only streams on YouTube, and they don’t allow co-streaming… I’m no expert, but Activision has let this ship sink tremendously, and after the NA Open Series/roadmap reveal, plenty were quick to question what the heck is going soon in CoD HQ. I know that Activision is going through a lot right now, which is rightfully justifying the delay in action, but outside of that it’s just sad the state of competitive Call of Duty.
Just load up the /r/CoDCompetitive and a big number of the posts are about Halo. The Challengers scene (CoD’s “amateur” scene) is in shambles; Challengers players are leaving for Halo or to pursue Warzone (we’ll talk about that in a bit), the Challengers scene has no money dedicated to it so players are playing for bragging rights and recognition. The list goes on and on.
The problem here is that Activision, respectfully, just doesn’t care. The real money is coming in from the casual scene with Warzone and micro transactions bringing in nearly 6 billion dollars (thank you Mr. Davison). Couple that with current games becoming more and more a Warzone prep service (ten attachment guns, new perks, new map), and it almost feels like Activision is shifting towards a Warzone only scene.
This post is probably dragging on for a bit, but it’s sad to see the state of Call of Duty. The final point I’ll end this on is when Halo revealed their roadmap, a lot of apologists and defenders came to Activision’s side. Their defense was Halo had plenty of time to create this well thought out roadmap while Call of Duty releases a new game every year so they don’t have time.
That right there is the sum of the problem.
Activision and the easiest cash grab in the history of esports. Call of Duty fans deserve better, but they won’t get it with Activision at the head of the table.