Earlier today, it was revealed that the prize pool for the 2016 Call of Duty Championship will be $1.6 million. While this is pool is higher compared to the last three Championship events, this is not close to the recent Halo World Championship or other major eSports titles.
The 2016 Halo World Championship saw a total prize pool of $2.5 million, where the first place team took home $1 million. That’s the biggest first place prize in console eSports history. The first place prize at the Halo WC was equivalent to the entire prize pool of the last three Call of Duty Championship events.
Out of Halo World Championship’s $2.5 million prize pool, only $1 million of that was funded by Microsoft. The rest $1.5 million was crowd funded through the in game REQ packs in Halo 5: Guardians [source]. In Halo 5: Guardians, 343 Industries has a REQ pack system (which is very similar to Supply Drops), and a percent of the proceeds from the REQ packs have been going to crowd fund the Halo World Champs. It’s incredible to think that Halo 5 players raised over $1.5 million for the prize pool from October 2015 to February 2016, and Halo 5 is available only on one platform.
For DOTA 2, there was a prize pool of $18 million for their The International 2015 event. For that event over, $16 million of the prize pool was crowd funded [source]. While DOTA 2 is on PC, and PC scene is definitely different than the console scene, it just shows the effect that involving fans directly in the action can have.
Last year, in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Sledgehammer Games/Activision launched a “Call of Duty Championship” Personalization Pack for players to buy, and none of the profits from that went to Champs prize pool. That pack seemed like one of the best opportunities ever to start crowd funding in Call of Duty eSports. Sledgehammer Games also added in team gear sets for Denial eSports and OpTic Gaming, but those were added into the regular supply drop rotation, and it could not have been possible to find out how much money was spent specifically on those items to increase prize pool; however, this was a big step for Call of Duty eSports as we finally saw gear sets coming in-game.
With the World League, it should be easier for Activision to get permission from teams in the league to showcase their gear directly in Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. Getting permissions from teams was probably a barrier for Activision before, but in Advanced Warfare, they were able to do it. All of the Call of Duty World League Pro Division teams could have their own camos, gear sets, calling cards, and more possibly added into a special “eSports Supply Drop” where a percent of the proceeds from this Supply Drop contributes to the Champs prize pool. This Supply Drop should also become available across platforms (that support the Black Market) and content all of the regular supply drop content plus the eSports gear.
(Side note: We have seen many fans express their opinions stating that they think having eSports gear available as separate purchase would be better but that would probably become a legal issue where teams would have to negotiate a profit from those as Activision would be directly selling their branding to players. Having a chance in Supply Drops makes it that you are not directly buying a team’s content, much like how it was done in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.)
Since Call of Duty is a multi-platform game, there are eSports fans across platforms. Halo 5’s crowd funding was only on Xbox One (as the game is a console exclusive), but still over $1.5 million was raised. There’s no saying how much Call of Duty fans could raise in this game.
The future of Call of Duty eSports truly lies in Activision’s hands this year with the World League. With crowd funding, maybe we could see Champs at an incredible prize pool. For now, we are at $1.6 million (with a total of more than $3 million across all three regions [NA/EU/ANZ] and across the Pro Division, Challenge Division, and Champs).