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Opinion: Why it’s time Activision brings Crowd Funding to Call of Duty eSports

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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).

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Activision

Activision files cease and desist letter against another cheat manufacturer

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Activision Blizzard continues to take down cheat manufacturer sites to stop the spread of different cheats for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Warzone.

In August, the company filed a lawsuit against CXCheats for illegally creating cheats to be used in an IP owned by Activision Blizzard. CXCheats since deleted all cheats for Modern Warfare and Warzone in compliance with the lawsuit.

Now, in September, another large cheat manufacturer, GatorCheats, has said that Activision Blizzard has filed a cease and desist letter to stop them from making cheats for Call of Duty games.

The owner of GatorCheats said in their Discord that the first letter was filed by in May 2020, but they did not fully comply with that – opting to allow cheats to continue to be available.

In May 2020, Activision Blizzard’s attorneys contacted me via a Cease and Desist letter. Considering this event, I decided to act on my already pending decision to close all sales to new customers for my product relating to Modern Warfare and Warzone.

Activision has since escalated the requests. In Sept. 2020, the owner of GatorCheats claims that Activision Blizzard served another cease and desist letter. But, this time, a PI showed up at his residence with the letter and informed him of what Activision knows about their site and the owners behind it.

In September 2020, Activision Blizzard’s attorneys had another Cease and Desist letter hand delivered to me by who I assume was a PI, considering he knew my family members by name and made a point to showcase that he did. Also in September 2020, I received very clear communication in a follow up from Activision Blizzard’s attorneys communicating that they would litigate (file a law suit against me) if I didn’t comply with continuation of stopped sales as well as a complete stoppage of interaction with and updating of any products related to their client’s products.

The full letter from the owner states that he will “never make or create” a cheat for an Activision Blizzard product again after receiving the letters and a visit from them at his house.

Activision has not commented on their anti-cheat initiatives since June, where the company said they continue to ban players on a regular basis.

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Activision files lawsuit against cheat manufacturer

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Activision filed a lawsuit to sue a company responsible for creating hacks and exploits for Modern Warfare and Warzone.

Activision has sued CXCheats for illegally creating cheats to use in Call of Duty, the company announced.

CXCheats claims on their website that they are “dedicated to quality.”

This is a pathetic marketing line to convince users to buy cheats to use in Call of Duty.

The owner announced on Discord (message posted to Reddit) that they are removing Warzone cheats from their site.

Announcement Message

As some of you may know, Activision Publishing, Inc. has filed a lawsuit against CXCheats and has made it clear to us that our services violate their Terms of Use.

As a result of our lawsuit with Activision, we have agreed to cease development and support for all Call of Duty related products or services sold through the site. These products will not be returning to CXCheats in any form. You also should be aware that using third-party tools in Call of Duty may result in the suspension or banning of your account by Activision Publishing, Inc. or the game’s developers. We apologize for any pain we’ve caused to players of Call of Duty.

Call of Duty: Warzone has been experiencing an intense amount of hackers since the game’s launch on March 13 on the PC platform.

With cross play, the hacks impacted the console players as well. PS4 players have opted to disable cross play to avoid them. Xbox players currently cannot disable cross play for unknown reasons.

CXCheats said on Discord that any user found using their software in Warzone will be banned, permanently.

Any user who utilizes unauthorized third-party software to gain an unfair advantage, manipulate stats, and/or manipulate game data is subject to penalty. Unauthorized third-party software includes, but is not limited to, aimbots, wallhacks, trainers, stats hacks, texture hacks, leaderboard hacks, injectors, or any other software used to deliberately modify game data on disk or in memory.

As of now, Activision has not commented on the lawsuit.

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Activision

Former MLB executive joins Activision Blizzard to lead Sports & Entertainment

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Activision Blizzard announced this week that former MLB executive will be joining the company starting August 17 in a newly formed position of President of Sports & Entertainment.

Petitti was the Deputy Commissioner and COO of MLB for years.

“Tony is one of the most highly regarded executives in sports and entertainment,” said Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard. “His success in media and as Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer of Major League Baseball is the perfect blend of skills to help us realize our aspirations for esports and our related businesses. He is admired by owners, media executives, players and fans.”

“Bobby Kotick has been translating his vision into opportunity at Activision Blizzard for 30 years. I couldn’t be more excited to use my own 30 years of sports and entertainment experience to help Activision Blizzard realize its ambitions,” said Petitti. “It’s clear to me the company has an incredible opportunity to connect players and fans in new and innovative ways, and I’m excited to be joining the company at such an important moment in its history. The last 12 years in baseball have been extraordinary for me and I am especially grateful for the leadership and mentorship that Commissioner Manfred provided to me and the League.”

Tony Petitti will join on to be in charge of the company’s esports businesses, which include Overwatch League and Call of Duty League, consumer products division, and films & television division.

Petitti will report directly to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick.

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