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State of the Community – CoD Franchising a Success?


2 Sep 2020

Gabriel Sciberras

Heading into its inaugural season, the Call of Duty League has many doubters. Indeed, questions were asked. Will it be a success? Is CoD Franchising a good idea? In this episode of State of the Community, we look to answer these questions following the end of the first season – let’s dive right in.

The aims of the inaugural season of the CDL were simply as follows:

  • To set a precedent for future seasons
  • A gauge for the potential of the franchise
  • Stepping up production
  • Better media coverage of competitors and events
  • Offering a framework for amateur players and new viewers to enter the scene
Credits: Call of Duty League

Accordingly, all of these were tackled. Bearing this in mind, it wasn’t all sunshine. Like any other inaugural season, there are some growing pains for CoD franchising.

In addition, the global situation of swapping to an online format did not help.

Quick Season Review

A total of 13 events or Home Series made up the competitive season. Across each one, 8 teams were invited to compete in a double-elimination format to crown a champion. Notably, this format was opted for weeks before starting the franchise instead of league matches thanks to a player vote – a massive plus for the league.

cod  league atlanta faze
Credits: Call of Duty League

Each performance garnered teams points. Indeed, it’s with these points that teams are seeding for Call of Duty Championship 2020. The season finishing with a crowned world champion through it’s post-season.

How Do We Measure Success?

To measure success we’ll be looking at how the aims were satisfied. Also, I’ll be throwing in some opinions too. Firstly, here’s what the franchised league did great:

  • All things considered, LAN Home Series organizing was great – stages looked super
  • Content from the CDL was super – including Warzone events and pre/post-event content
  • The level of competitions between teams shook the league – inviting only 8 out of 12 teams each time resulted in half the league winning an event at one time!
  • Tier 2 competition was upheld nicely and allowed for multiple amateurs to break through the scene and make a name for themselves
  • Obliging each team to have a substitute played a massive part in the competition
Call of Duty League 2020 Season 2020-02-09 / Photo: Robert Paul for Activision Blizzard

Conversely, there are some negatives we’ll have to dive into below:

  • Albeit, events were great, but online series offered many technical issues
  • Occasionally, viewership would falter as a favourite team wouldn’t be present
  • In-game mechanics for Modern Warfare suffered from a lack of balancing and tweaking
  • Concurrently, a lack of competitive integrity was present at times

Furthermore, for a better idea of the season’s performance, we’ll have to compare it to the inaugural season of the Overwatch League.

Comparing CoD Franchising to OWL

To illustrate the comparison, the inaugural season of the OWL is ideal. Accordingly, both franchises are organized by Blizzard-Activision: that’s all we need to compare.

To demonstrate, we’ll compare viewership for the largest event. For OWL, it’s the Overwatch League 2018 Playoffs. For CDL, the Call of Duty League 2020 Finals. Here’s a comparison thanks to Esports Charts:

Credits: Esports Charts – OWL Playoffs
Credits: Esports Charts – CDL Finals

Evidently, it’s a very tight comparison. Chiefly, in terms of viewership, the OWL Playoffs edges out in each category. However, do note that the CDL event was online. Hence, the viewership experience was less involved. Bearing this in mind, I consider the statistics to be equal. We can say that in terms of viewership, the Call of Duty League ended with a bang.

Conclusion – What’s Unknown and the Future of CoD Franchising

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to say whether the inaugural season of the CDL was a complete success. This is because we have no access to the most important statistic – profit. Money does make the world go round. In the end, millions of investment need to be returned eventually.

Call of Duty League 2020 Season 2020-02-08 / Photo: JOE-BRADY for Activision Blizzard

Personally, as a viewer and superfan of Call of Duty, I’d say the inaugural season was great despite the resistance – being online halfway and inaugural. Accordingly, the league is still growing and feeling itself out.

In terms of future, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War has been confirmed and will host 4v4 competition. One massive negative already is the potential fact that expansion will not be taking place – though it’s all speculation so far. Apart from that, we’ll have to see how community retention is affected when swapping games.

For more esports news visit https://www.esportsguide.com/news.

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