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Opinion: Call of Duty: Warzone desperately needs anti-cheat for its competitive future

Warzone’s successful competitive future is all in Activision’s hands.

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Call of Duty: Warzone is in desperate need of a proper, clarified anti-cheat system to prevent the influx of hackers as Activision looks to develop the game’s competitive future.

Call of Duty: Warzone launched to much fan fare in March 2020. It was the first free to play Call of Duty experience ever for consoles & PC. And that opened up the amount of players that could enter the Call of Duty world. There was no $60 barrier anymore to experience Call of Duty.

But with that, an influx of cheaters and hackers on the PC platform stormed into Call of Duty: Warzone. Since the game’s launch, there has been an extensive amount of hackers in Call of Duty: Warzone on the PC platform. And with cross play, those hackers infest the PlayStation and Xbox lobbies, too.

The biggest issue has been: Activision’s lack of a concrete plan to address the hacking situation. The company has issued a few statements in 2020 on how they combat hacking in Call of Duty: Warzone, but none of them have left fans with hope of a sustainable future for the title on PC.

It makes sense, in other ways, that Call of Duty is being infested with cheaters at a higher pace compared to other free to play Battle Royale games. Call of Duty is one of the biggest entertainment franchise available, and Warzone was the first chance that allowed everyone to play Call of Duty. There’s always been cheaters and hackers in Call of Duty MP. But that was on a more controllable scale with the game being $60 to play. With Warzone, the entry barrier is gone, and now hackers who could never hack in Call of Duty before, can do so now. And with Activision’s lack of aggressive action within the game itself, it welcomes more to the field.

But aggressive action from Activision is needed to counter cheaters and it’s needed ASAP.

Activision’s responses to cheaters in 2020

The first big stance Activision took on cheaters was a few weeks after launch, where the company announced that over 50,000 hackers and been banned and said “cheaters not welcome” in the Warzone world. Activision said they take cheating “very seriously” and would work hard to maintain “a level and fair playing field for everyone” as one of their “highest priorities.”

That did not change much. Hackers continued to flourish in the Warzone world on PC. And at the same time, Activision started to build up their vision for a competitive Warzone future. They started it with Live From Warzone series, which highlighted fan run tournaments and events for Warzone.

On April 24, 2020, the next big step from Infinity Ward: hackers would be match-made in the same lobbies only forward. They also said the studio “increased resources” to help alleviate the cheater concerns.

And then, the worst statement of all time was released on July 24, 2020: Infinity Ward was kindly asking players to not use 3rd party software while playing Call of Duty: Warzone.

Please do not use unauthorized 3rd party software to mod or hack,” said an image statement from the studio, as shown below. They said listed out what items they believe to be considered hacking/cheating, and failed to lay out an progress on what they’re doing themselves to combat it.

Lastly, the final update we’ve received on the hacking issue with Warzone was in Sept. 2020. Infinity Ward said they had banned 200,000 accounts since the game’s launch.

But 200,000 it not even close to enough. There’s, according to Activision, over 90 million players who have played Call of Duty: Warzone. Only 200,000 accounts banned (that’s the last official number of banned accounts Activision has informed the public about).

Focused on the Wrong Thing

Now, we’ll give credit to Activision in some areas. The company has taken a legal path of action against many cheater makers that were designing cheats for Call of Duty: Warzone.

The company issued cease and desist orders to two cheat manufactures. The first one was CXCheats, which received a cease and desist in August 2020. Once they were threatened by Activision, the site removed all cheats related to Call of Duty: Warzone. And then in September, Activision filed another lawsuit against GatorCheats and even sent a representative to the owner’s house. GatorCheats removed all Warzone cheats from their site.

But the problem with the cease and desist orders is that there’s an infinite number of companies out there that can create and manufacture cheats for games. Just because you take down two through legal action, does not mean more will spawn up. Activision probably thinks that threatening a few will make many more stop, but that has not been the case. There’s also a wide variety of online forums where players share cheats they’ve created, and those never hit or show on an ‘official’ cheat manufacturer’s website.

The only real action Activision took on the public side, which was a major step for them, was being able to detect EngineOwning cheats in Warzone. EngineOwning updated their website in Sept. 2020 to state Warzone cheats were ‘now detected’ by Activision, and over 20,000 accounts got banned.

That’s what we need more of: focus on fixing the game itself, not trying to stop cheats from being made on the manufacture’s side. A comprehensive anti-cheat system is the best way for Activision to ensure that cheats cannot continue in Warzone.

There will always be hackers & cheaters in every game, but having an extensive anti-cheat software will be able to reduce the overall number of hackers and help promote and more enjoyable game environment.

For example, Riot Game’s VALORANT FPS title has an entire anti-cheat developed for it called Vanguard. Riot makes players install Vanguard anti-cheat in order to play VALORANT on their PC. While some players have been able to get by the software, this has stopped the game from being infested by hackers, even if it’s a free to play title.

Competitive Integrity

The situation with anti-cheat and hackers kicked into high gear on the competitive integrity side over the last several months. Many high profile content creators having been playing in Warzone competitions, some of which have prize pools thanks to Activision. And there’s always suspects of hacking occurring during these events, and Activision has yet to address that problem.

The most recent example was the $250,000 Twitch Rivals tournament for Warzone. This tournament was hosted in a private lobby, meaning all players were known and required to join into a specific server code. During the 5th match of the event, the game was stopped. There was suspects of hackers in the match.

Twitch had to remove teams from the match & ban them, and then had to continue the tournament.

This is the problem we face in Warzone: it’s a massively successful game for Activision, and truly has a bright future as a big force in the gaming industry. But why can’t Activision and Blizzard take the time to implement a proper, anti-cheat system to ensure competitive integrity. More importantly, why won’t they do it to just improve the overall quality of the game?

Fortnite has many tournaments and events, with over $20 million in prizing planned for 2021. They’ve solved a lot of the cheaters problem on their end with an anti-cheat system. Apex Legends’ has a ranked play mode that has an anti-cheat system in place to avoid these issues Warzone faces.

Popular content creators have been vocal about the lack of anti-cheat in Warzone for months.

NICKMERCS commented saying he won’t be playing in any Warzone tournaments until there’s an authentic anti-cheat system implemented to avoid controversial wins.

And recently, Dr. Disrespect also commented on the drama calling out Activision for lack of proper action to prevent the situation from happening.

Warzone most certainly continues to be a very popular free to play battle royale option for many fans out there.

Warzone’s Future

And Activision seems to be invested in its future too. Johanna Faries, VP & Head of Leagues at Activision Blizzard Esports, recently revealed the company has plans for Warzone to become part of the Call of Duty League.

“There are [plans to bring Warzone to Call of Duty League], and we’re excited to announce those plans in the coming weeks and months. We’ve been closely monitoring the introduction and the wild popularity of Warzone since last spring. We did bring in Warzone-related content with our pros last season, but we’ve taken the off-season to think bigger about what a more structured investment could look like. There are really exciting things to come as early as this season.”

That’s great to hear. But if they want a CDL based around Warzone or integration of the title into an esports program to be successful, Call of Duty: Warzone desperately needs an anti-cheat system setup to ensure there’s competitive integrity and no disputes over the legitimacy of wins.

We hope Activision has plans — sooner, rather than later — to deliver on this.

Call of Duty League

How to earn Call of Duty League Championship viewership rewards: Blueprints, Champs Pack, more

Here’s how to start earning exclusive viewership rewards including a CDL XM4 Blueprint for watching the Call of Duty League Championships.

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Call of Duty League championship weekend

The Call of Duty League 2021 Championship Weekend is here, and players can earn various viewership rewards for watching the final stage of competitive action. Here’s how to link your account and earn an XM4 Blueprint, Calling Cards, and the chance to get the Champs Pack for free.

After months of Call of Duty’s best playing for the championship crown, it all comes down to the Championship Weekend, kicking off on August 19 and concluding on Sunday, August 22. While the pros compete for the $1.2 million prize pool, you can also earn various viewership rewards to use in Black Ops Cold War and Warzone, just for watching.

Alongside an exclusive CDL-themed XM4 Blueprint, you can earn Double XP tokens, player signature stickers, and the chance to receive a CDL 2021 Champs Pack code.

Here’s how to link your account to start earning rewards and everything on offer.

How to earn CDL Championship viewership rewards for Cold War & Warzone

Earning the Call of Duty League Championship viewership rewards is simple; the longer you watch, the more rewards you’ll earn. But you’ll need to make sure that your Call of Duty account is linked to YouTube, where the CDL will be broadcasted.

Rewards are earned by watching the CDL Championships through a YouTube account linked to Call of Duty.

To link your account on PC and mobile:

  1. Open YouTube.com or the YouTube app
  2. Select your profile photo and hit ‘settings’
  3. Click on ‘Connected Apps’
  4. Locate ‘Activision’ and hit ‘connect’
  5. Sign in to your Activision account

While signed in with your linked YouTube account, watch CDL matches on YouTube, CallofDutyLeague.com, or the COD companion app to earn the rewards.

Call of Duty League Championship stream

Above, you can find the stream for the CDL Championship weekends. As long as your Activision account is connected to YouTube, you’ll begin earning incremental viewership rewards.

All CDL Championship viewership rewards

Call of Duty League 2021 Viewership rewards

CDL Thursday viewership rewards

  • 1 Hour: 60 Minute Double XP Token
  • 1 Hour 30 Minutes: Shane and Zaptius Weapon Stickers
  • 2 Hours: 60 Minute Battle Pass Double XP Token

CDL Friday viewership rewards

  • 1 Hour: 60 Minute Double XP Token
  • 1 Hour 30 Minutes: Zed and PaulEhx Weapon Stickers
  • 2 Hours: 60 Minute Battle Pass Double XP Token

CDL Saturday viewership rewards

  • 30 Minutes: COD Timing Calling Card
  • 1 Hour: 60 Minute Double XP Token
  • 1 Hour 30 Minutes: Venom, Classic, and Vivid Weapon Stickers
  • 2 Hours: 60 Minute Battle Pass Double XP Token
  • Chance to earn CDL 2021 Champs Pack code

CDL Championship Sunday viewership rewards

  • 15 Minutes: Sweep Emblem
  • 30 Minutes: Thunderclap Calling Card
  • 45 Minutes: CDL Champs 2021 XM4
  • 1 Hour: 60 Minute Double XP Token
  • 1 Hour 30 Minutes: Standy, Temp, and Huke Weapon Stickers
  • 2 Hours: 60 Minute Battle Pass Double XP Token

What’s in the Cold War & Warzone CDL 2021 Champs Pack?

Call of Duty League 2021 Champs Pack

For watching the Championships on Saturday, Call of Duty will give out codes for the CDL 2021 Champs Pack to random viewers. These include Blueprints for the AK-47 and LW3 – Tundra with Gold Tracers, as well as CDL-themed Emblems, Charm, Calling Card, and Sticker.

This bundle usually costs around $18, so it’s well worth trying to get it for free by watching the CDL.

  • AK-47 Champs ’21 Blueprint
  • LW3 Champs ’21 Blueprint
  • CDL Championship Trophy Charm
  • Better On LAN Emblem
  • Online Warrior Emblem
  • Championship Weekend ’21 Calling Card
  • CDL Championship Ring Sticker

The CDL Championships marks the end of Black Ops Cold War’s competitive season, with 2022’s being played on the upcoming Call of Duty: Vanguard game, which returns to the series’ WW2 roots.

Image Credit: Activision

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ASTRO Gaming & US Army ends sponsorship of Call of Duty League amid lawsuit controversy

The Call of Duty League has lost one of its long time sponsors just before the biggest CDL event of the year.

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Activision Blizzard Esports division appears to be taking the biggest impact from external partners over the harassment lawsuit with sponsors opting out of partnerships with the Call of Duty League and Overwatch League.

The latest sponsor to end its relations with the Call of Duty League is ASTRO Gaming (and now U.S Army).

ASTRO Gaming’s logo has vanished from the Call of Duty League site, alongside the U.S Army logo. These two logos used to appear to the left of ZENNI Gaming’s logos.

Here’s a look at the new sponsorship strip section on the CDL site, with ZENNI Gaming, SCUF, Game Fuel, and USAA still partners.

Update August 13 – 1PM ET: After we posted this article, the logo sponsorship section on the Call of Duty League site was updated again to remove the U.S Army logo. The CDL now has only four sponsors left as CDL Champs approaches.

ASTRO Gaming was a long time sponsor of Call of Duty esports, dating back to its early days. The company was the official headset sponsor of the Call of Duty League and Call of Duty Challengers.

Per Activision’s initial announcement of the CDL back in 2020, ASTRO Gaming “extends its sponsorship of Call of Duty esports through the 2022 season.”

Instead, the sponsorship has ended just before the CDL’s biggest event of the year, Call of Duty League Championship. The Championship event will take place August 19 – 22 at the Galen Center in LA.

The U.S Army started its sponsorship of the CDL with the inaugural season in 2020. The U.S Army was the presenting sponsor of all schedule related assets on the CDL site.

Their logo has now been completely removed from the site.

Activision Blizzard has declined to comment.

ASTRO had in broadcast segments for the Call of Duty League including the main ASTRO Gaming Listen In, allowing fans to hear team comms during intense moments of matches.

ASTRO also was the presenting sponsor of the Call of Duty League MVP Award, which was awarded at the end of the Champs event. Since the partnership has ended, as early as this week, the CDL’s site MVP page no longer shows the ASTRO Gaming logo.

The site before August 10th:

The site as it appears now, available to view here:

ASTRO & US Army are the latest two sponsors of the Call of Duty League to drop, after T-Mobile distanced themselves a few weeks back.

ASTRO Gaming partnered with the CDL to sell custom-designed CDL team headsets on their website. That collection has been deleted from the site.

The Call of Duty League is not the only Activision Blizzard league facing backlash. The company’s Overwatch League has lost 5 sponsors over the last two weeks, including Coca Cola, State Farm, IBM, Kellogs, and more.

The sponsorship drops comes as Activision Blizzard is being sued by the state of California for sexual harassment and diversity in-equality across the company, with many instances coming out of Blizzard’s side.

Activision Blizzard responded to the suit with Blizzard President J. Allen Brack resigning and putting Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra as co-leaders of Blizzard.

The company still faces immense pressure from employees to change some of the practices, like removal of attribution clauses and changes to the law firm that is investigating the allegations at the company. So far, Activision Blizzard executives have not met their demands.

We’ll continue to keep everyone updated as more information on the lawsuit and sponsorships happen.

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T-Mobile reportedly no longer a sponsor of Call of Duty League & Overwatch League

T-Mobile appears to have ended their sponsorship of both the CDL and OWL after Activision Blizzard harassment lawsuits surfaced.

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T-Mobile appears to have abruptly ended their sponsorship of the Call of Duty League and Overwatch League this past week. The company’s logo has been removed from the sponsorship section of both of the websites.

T-Mobile was one of the largest non-endemic partners of the Call of Duty League. The US wireless carrier was the Official 5G Sponsor of the League and featured weekly 5G T-Mobile Drops for fans to enter to win real life prizes.

The Call of Duty League features sponsors including the U.S. Army, Astro Gaming, SCUF Gaming, Zenni Gaming, Game Fuel, USAA Insurance, and Google Cloud.

T-Mobile’s logo was seen on the Call of Duty League site as recently as July 21 alongside the other sponsors, per the Wayback Machine, as seen in the screenshot below:

Call of Duty League website – July 21, 2021

Now, visiting the Call of Duty League website and looking at the same sponsor area, T-Mobile’s logo has been removed. The other sponsor’s logos are still featured.

Call of Duty League website – July 31, 2021

Another part of T-Mobile’s activation with the Call of Duty League was their 5G Weekly Drop activation, where viewers could text a code to a number to enter for a chance to win bonus items – like free controllers, phones, headsets, and even a trip to CDL Champs.

However, for the Stage 5 Major event (taking place July 29 through August 1), the official rules website says the Weekly Drop was cancelled with no explanation provided.

T-Mobile was also a sponsor of Activision Blizzard’s other major league, the Overwatch League. But on the OWL’s website sponsor section strip, T-Mobile’s logo is gone. It was there as soon as Monday, July 26. T-Mobile’s branding still appears on their site for Viewership Drops as those assets appears to have not been updated yet.

It’s not officially confirmed as to why T-Mobile has decided to end its sponsorship of both of the leagues so suddenly or if the sponsorship is truly over, but the timing seems suspicious with the recent harassment lawsuit against Activision Blizzard from the state of California.

Activision Blizzard employees staged a walk out on July 28 in protest of the company’s responses to the harassment lawsuit over a toxic, sexist workplace culture.

Activision Blizzard’s CEO Bobby Kotick responded in an email published on July 27 that the company’s responses were “tone deaf” and they would work to build a better, safer culture.

Activision Blizzard and T-Mobile both have not responded to requests for comment at the time of publication.

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