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).
CoD publisher Activision Blizzard announce all US QA Testers will become full-time employees
Following backlash and developers walkouts, Activision Blizzard have announced that all US QA staff will become full-time employees.
Activision Blizzard were set to lay off members of Warzone developer Raven Software’s Quality Assurance team, and developers walked out in protest. Now, Activision Blizzard have confirmed that all US QA Testers across the whole company will become full-time employees with better pay and full benefits.
Back in December 2021, Warzone developers Raven Software received news from Activision Blizzard that there would be significant layoffs, particularly in the Quality Assurance department. This surprise announcement received severe backlash, and the QA Testers staged a walkout in protest, days before Warzone’s major Pacific update.
After months of protests and unionizing, Activision Blizzard informed its staff on April 7, 2022, that all of its 1,100 QA testers will receive a full-time contract, an hourly wage increase, and access to full benefits.
An Activision Blizzard spokesperson announced that they will convert “all US-based temporary and contingent QA team members at Activision Publishing (AP) and Blizzard – nearly 1,100 people in total – to permanent full-time employees starting July 1.”
“Additionally, we are increasing the minimum hourly rate for these team members to $20/hr or more effective April 17,” they continued. “These employees also will be eligible to participate in the company’s bonus plan and will have access to full company benefits.”
They explained that this decision follows the process of “converting temporary and contingent employees, including 500 at AP’s studios, to permanent full-time employees,” which began last year.
In an internal email, Activision Chief Operating Officer Josh Taub explained how their business model has changed to an “always on,” approach, which means they are “further refining how our development teams work together.”
“QA is, and continues to be, critical to our development success. We have amazing QA teams in place that work hard to ensure our players have the best possible gaming experiences – thank you!” he said.
Mike Ybarra, Head of Blizzard, relayed the same message to all of Blizzard’s staff, explaining the remaining US-based QA Testers will be made full-time employees, receive the pay rise, and gain access to increased benefits.
Image Credit: Activision Blizzard
Activision’s Beenox studio expands to Montreal as Warzone Mobile development ramps up
Activision’s Beenox studio is opening a new location in Montreal as they continue to support the development of Call of Duty titles.
Beenox studio have aided in the development of Call of Duty mobile projects as well as Warzone content. On March 29, the company announced plans to open a new location in Montreal.
Beenox studio have supported the content releases for several seasons of Call of Duty Warzone in addition to developing new CoD Mobile experiences. It seems they will also be working on Warzone Mobile and as this significant project continues to move forward, Beenox will be supporting from their new office in Montreal, Canada.
Beenox currently operates out of Quebec City, but this expansion to Montreal is the next step in the studio’s continued growth. At this time, Beenox employs over 400 game development professionals and will likely look to add more as their expansion proceeds.
Beenox was established in 2000 and has since been operating out of Quebec City. The company is owned by Activision and as such the two forces collaborate on exciting new Call of Duty projects.
The addition of a Montreal office will be a smooth one for Beenox as they already employ around 50 team members from the city. However, if you have hopes of joining their impressive team of game developers, Beenox have confirmed that they are looking to hire new members as well:
“The team is currently hiring for roles in programming, design and art departments, as well as for the mobile team.” Luckily, candidates aren’t restricted to Montreal inhabitants, “We want our location to attract local and international talent and contribute to the vibrant video game industry in Montreal” said Nour Polloni, Studio Head at Beenox.
Montreal seems like a perfect fit for the studio as the city is known for housing renowned gaming industry giants like Ubisoft, Square Enix, and Bethesda Montreal. Beenox will fit right in with the vibrant game development community in Montreal.
Although the blog post announcing the expansion, does not specifically mention Warzone Mobile, it’s likely that a major focus will shift toward the development of the upcoming game.
Despite being announced on March 10, Warzone Mobile is still very much shrouded in mystery but fans of the franchise are certainly hoping for a late 2022 release date.
For more Call of Duty news, check out how Warzone Mobile leaks hint at a Verdansk return with a twist.
Image Credit: Activision / Beenox
Will Call of Duty stay on PlayStation after Microsoft’s Activision buyout?
PlayStation fans may have some questions regarding the new Xbox acquisition, including whether Call of Duty will be on the platform.
After the huge news about Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision, PlayStation players are wondering what will happen with future Call of Duty releases.
Since the news broke about Microsoft’s purchase of Activision, the gaming community has gone crazy worldwide. The deal is arguably the biggest acquisition in gaming history and was even worth more than Disney’s purchase of the Star Wars franchise (Lucasfilm).
The deal has a lot of question marks surrounding it at the moment, but for those PlayStation users who are confused as to what it means for Call of Duty on the platform, here’s all the information you need.
The deal involves games under Activision and Activision Blizzard, which subsequently means Xbox will own Call of Duty.
This took the community by surprise when it was announced and naturally, a lot of people had questions.
For example, Call of Duty have had a close relationship with PlayStation for some years now, giving them exclusive/early access to content, so what will happen after the deal goes through?
Will Call of Duty still be on PlayStation?
Xbox’s Phil Spencer, the CEO of Microsoft gaming, confirmed in a statement over on Twitter that Call of Duty will remain on PlayStation following the acquisition. Further, the Xbox CEO also confirmed that they would honor all existing agreements that Sony has with Call of Duty.
On February 9 a Microsoft blog post reaffirmed their commitment to providing PlayStation owners with new Call of Duty titles in the years to come. Microsoft confirmed that they have no intention to undermine opportunities for PlayStation users with Xbox exclusive CoD titles.
Microsoft stated that they will continue to develop Call of Duty games for all platforms beyond the existing agreements in place, “we have committed to Sony that we will also make them available on PlayStation beyond the existing agreement and into the future so that Sony fans can continue to enjoy the games they love.”
For now, the companies will remain independent from each other until 2023.
This means that Call of Duty 2022 will likely retain a lot of the PlayStation exclusivity deals that have been around and PS players won’t have to worry about losing content to Xbox, at least not until these commitments and deals expire.
Once the deal closes and the commitment to existing contracts and agreements like PlayStation’s exclusive Call of Duty content expires, it’s unclear what will happen in terms of exclusive content. However, it is clear that Call of Duty will still be released on PlayStation.
According to Tom Warren, Xbox’s dealings with Bethesda when they purchased the company could be telling of what they will do with Activision. We will likely know much more about exclusivity for other games once the deal has closed, but we could be seeing a lot of Activision games going exclusive.
It wouldn’t have been wise for Microsoft to pull Call of Duty games from PlayStation, as the franchise remains the best-selling game on PlayStation platforms in the U.S. and has been for years, with Vanguard recently topping the charts for 2021.
What can be said, however, is that exclusivity deals may shift from PlayStation to Xbox after the deal is closed. Call of Duty games may even be seen on the Xbox Game Pass on release, but this is all still just speculation.
So, there you have it, Call of Duty will remain on PlayStation platforms but the exclusive content may shift over to Xbox and PC. For more, check out every Warzone weapon ranked.
Image Credits: PlayStation / Xbox / Microsoft / Activision / Retail Tracking Service / The NDP Group
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