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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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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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Report: Activision Blizzard HQ & Treyarch offices set to relocate

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A new report states Activision Blizzard will no longer lease its office space in Santa Monica and are actively searching for a new HQ location.

DoTEsports reports that Activision Blizzard and Treyarch have ended their lease at their Santa Monica HQ offices. The company has had the office under their lease for more than a decade.

Per the new report, the teams that work in those spaces will work from home until further notice.

The company is reportedly in search of a new space. An internal memo, which was sent to staff and obtained by DoTEsports, states the company is actively looking for a new office space in the Santa Monica area.

We have narrowed down the search for our next office location to several properties in the Santa Monica area and we hope to finalize our plans in the coming weeks,” the internal company communication said.

Activision employees have been working from home since March 2020. As of now, the company says they’re on track to return to office by September 1, 2021. The timeline remains unchanged.

Activision’s main headquarters was located in the Santa Monica office on Ocean Blvd in California. Treyarch’s studio space was located right next door to Activision Blizzard HQ in Santa Monica on the first floor of an office building. The two used those buildings for over 10 years now, and are now up for rental and purchase.

Activision has not commented on this information as of now.

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