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Activision Blizzard confirms they have acquired Major League Gaming

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Activision Blizzard has confirmed that they have acquired Major League Gaming’s entire business, following the leak from last week.

As part of the agreement, Major League Gaming will become part of Activision Blizzard’s Media Networks division, which is led by former ESPN CEO Steve Bornstein and MLG co-founder Mike Sepso, and MLG will continue to operate MLG.tv, MLG Pro Circuit, Game Battles and more.

Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard, said, “Our acquisition of Major League Gaming’s business furthers our plans to create the ESPN of esports. MLG’s ability to create premium content and its proven broadcast technology platform – including its live streaming capabilities – strengthens our strategic position in competitive gaming. MLG has an incredibly strong and seasoned team and a thriving community. Together, we will create new ways to celebrate players and their unique skills, dedication and commitment to gaming. We are excited to add Sundance and the entire MLG esports team to our competitive gaming initiatives.”

One thing that is different from last week’s leak is that Sundance DiGiovanni will remain at MLG as the CEO, working with Activision Blizzard Media Networks on future MLG projects.

Sundance DiGiovanni, Chief Executive Officer and MLG Co-founder, said, “Our mission for over 12 years has been to promote and expand the growth of competitive gaming worldwide, and today the industry is at a key inflection point as its popularity soars and rivals that of many traditional professional sports. This acquisition and Activision Blizzard’s commitment to competitive gaming will expand the opportunities for gamers to be recognized and celebrated for their competitive excellence.”

Mike Sepso, Senior Vice President of Activision Blizzard Media Networks and MLG Co-founder, said, “Sundance and I founded MLG to highlight the incredible talent of competitive gamers all over the world. Activision Blizzard’s esports leadership, incredible intellectual property and long history in competitive gaming create a perfect home for MLG’s capabilities. The acquisition of MLG’s business is an important step towards Activision Blizzard Media Networks’ broader mission to bring esports into the mainstream by creating and broadcasting premium esports content, organizing global league play and expanding distribution with key gaming partners.”

With this agreement, Activision Blizzard’s MLG will continue to work on providing events for other major titles, including Halo 5: Guardians event and Counter Strike: Global Offensive.

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Johanna Faries named new Call of Duty General Manager

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Johanna Faries Call of Duty General Manager

Activision Blizzard announced that Johanna Faries had been named the new General Manager of the Call of Duty franchise.

Call of Duty is arguably the biggest franchise in the video game world and one of the top entities in all of entertainment. With great success this past year thanks to Black Ops Cold War and Warzone, Activision Blizzard has officially decided who will lead the franchise into the future.

This week, Activision announced that Johanna Faries has been named the new General Manager of the Call of Duty franchise. In her expanded role, she will have management oversight of every angle of the high-profile first-person shooter franchise going forward.

Johanna Faries Call of Duty General Manager

“Since joining Activision Blizzard, I’ve had the opportunity of a lifetime to set a new and dynamic vision for Call of Duty eSports alongside an incredibly talented team of colleagues, players, owners, and partners. In the process, I’ve been on the front lines of the Call of Duty franchise, working closely with our studio and marketing teams to deliver breakthrough experiences for players and fans the world over,” said Faries to GameInformer. “Call of Duty has made an immeasurable impact on the world of gaming and entertainment and is a bona fide cultural phenomenon. I can’t wait to help usher the franchise into its next chapter, and to continue to unlock the power that Call of Duty holds for the future of competitive entertainment.”

Faries is far from new when it comes to Call of Duty. She first joined Activision Blizzard in 2018 as the Head of Call of Duty Esports. Her goal when joining the company to create the franchised Call of Duty League, which lead to her becoming the Call of Duty League Commissioner and subsequently the Head of Leagues at Activision Blizzard, including the Overwatch League over the last 3 years.

The National Football League is where Johanna Faries called home before Activision Blizzard, where she spent 12 years as an executive.

With Call of Duty continuing its reign as a heavyweight in the video game world and Black Ops Cold War and Warzone kicking off Season 3 that saw the introduction of the new Verdansk ’84 map, there is no more exciting time to see where Johanna Faries will help take the franchise in the future.

Image Credits: Activision Blizzard

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Premium Call of Duty games will be revealed later in the year than usual

Activision confirms Warzone’s success has had an impact on Call of Duty marketing decisions.

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With the success of Call of Duty: Warzone and the post launch campaigns, Activision has acknowledged that they are experiencing a shift in their marketing of Call of Duty.

The Call of Duty marketing machine has been in almost a consistent pattern for years. A new game gets announced in May, MP reveal over the summer, potential beta in August/September, and then a release in October/November. It’s been systematic.

That entire process has been upended with the launch of Call of Duty: Warzone. With the game’s success and continued post launch campaign seasons ongoing, there’s a lot to talk about now without having to shift attention to the latest premium release so early.

And, Activision’s President is acknowledging this shift in Call of Duty marketing plans. When asked in a new interview with VentureBeat about revealing new CoD games later in the year, Kostich states “we’re probably shifting a bit more in that direction.”

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War was the first to experience this. The game, which fans hoped would be announced in the similar schedule in May, was only revealed in end of August. The reveal event occurred within Call of Duty: Warzone, a new way for Activision to engage the fan base.

Kostich says that the reason for the change in reveal time frame is what we’re seeing right now. “You’ve seen what we have in season three this week. We have so much to talk about and so much going on that’s happening this week. We want to focus on that with the community, focus on the journey with them.”

He reiterated how Black Ops reveal was able to be apart of Warzone, something Activision has never been able to do before. “We did some cool things in terms of integrating the reveal of Black Ops into Warzone. Those are the things we want to orchestrate and provide to our community, letting them discover Call of Duty themselves in their play experience.”

Kostich confirms that “marketing is changing within Call of Duty, how we get the community to participate and uncover things for us.

He states that reveals of premium CoD games “might be happening later, but it’s all part of a broader agenda to bring the community along on a fun journey.”

How this impacts Call of Duty 2021 release timing will be interesting to watch. Activision has steep competition this year with EA releasing Battlefield game and Xbox releasing Halo Infinite.

As always, stay tuned for the latest news on Call of Duty.

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Activision issuing “hardware bans” to thwart Warzone cheaters

Activision have confirmed that they are handing out “hardware bans” to banned cheaters who keep making fresh accounts.

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Call of Duty Warzone gameplay

Cheaters and hackers have plagued Call of Duty: Warzone since its launch, but on top of account bans, Activision has confirmed that they are issuing hardware bans to thwart repeat offenders.

Cheaters have been a thorn in both players’ and developers’ sides since Warzone launched in 2020. It has been common to run into players blatantly wall-hacking and aim-botting, ruining the game for casual players and pros alike.

Raven Software has been providing regular updates on how many cheaters have been banned, and Activision recently confirmed that 475,000 permabans have been issued since Warzone’s launch. The likely reason why this number is so high is that Warzone is free-to-play. It’s widely believed that even if a cheater’s account gets banned, they can simply create a new one and carry on as if nothing happened.

Activision is aware of this issue and player’s concerns and released an in-depth update on their anti-cheat progress on April 12.

Because so many players have been concerned that account bans are ineffective, Call of Duty staff responded to this, saying that “Removing cheaters and taking away their ability to move to alternate accounts is a key focus for the security teams.”

They confirmed that if you’re cheating, not only could you be unknowingly downloading malware to your system, you could also receive a hardware ban.

To make sure players don’t keep creating fresh accounts to cheat with, Activision said, “We do issue hardware bans against repeat, or serial, cheaters. This is an important part of our effort to combat repeat offenders.”

This means that players who receive a hardware ban will be permanently locked out and won’t be able to simply create a new, free account and go back to their cheating ways.

Helicopters flying to Warzone's Verdansk Stadium

Activision also confirmed that not only are they targeting individual accounts with cheats installed, but also “the commercial market of cheat providers and resellers.” They revealed that they have recently banned “45,000 fraudulent, black market accounts used by repeat offenders.”

Cheaters will likely still make their way into your Warzone sessions, but Activision is making sure it’s continuously more risky and difficult to do.

In the meantime, you can check out our guide on how to spot cheaters in Warzone so you can assist Activision by reporting these players.

Image Credit: Activision

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