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Will the Call of Duty League’s Inaugural Season be a Major Fail?

The inaugural Call of Duty League season starts in just a couple of days and aims to bring forth the ultimate franchised system that’ll serve as a guideline for future esports competitions. But, from the looks of things, there are a few obstacles it could stumble upon. Let’s take a closer look.

The inaugural season of Call of Duty League, also known as CDL, starts on January 24th and aims to produce a massive bang in the esports industry. How come? Well, let’s just say that Activision Blizzard put everything into the inaugural CDL season. In other words, Call of Duty League expectations are going to be sky high across the board. Not just because of Call of Duty as an esports title, but because of the future of franchised esports competitions.

Each of the twelve participating teams splashed out $25 million for a spot, meaning there’s already a ton of money in this competition. Combine the $25 million for spots with a ton of other expenses, such as player contracts, staff salaries, equipment and so on, which significantly increases the overall investment. 

And that’s the biggest problem of CDL – the inaugural season must be a huge success; otherwise the organizations involved will never see ROI!

Call of Duty League Expectations are Too High

Considering the massive investments these 12 esports organizations had to splash out, it’s no wonder people are holding Call of Duty League to immensely high standards. Everyone who’s already invested (one way or another) in this competition is expecting a successful season from start to finish, one that could pave the way for even better things to come in the next three to five years.

But, unfortunately, it seems as though most people have overly high expectations. Expectations that, even if everything goes according to plans, won’t be fulfilled. Even if the inaugural Call of Duty League season gets massive viewership right off the bat, that alone won’t suffice in the grand scheme of things.

CDL will need consistency, and the fear of failure combined with overly high expectations could be a plaguing factor right from the kickoff…

The Future of Franchising is on the Line

Another reason why Call of Duty League expectations are too high is the fact that it’s the biggest, most prominent attempt of creating a franchised esports competition. Yes, Overwatch League (AKA OWL) has done it first, but considering the amount of money involved in CDL, we can all agree it’s miles above OWL.

If CDL fails to deliver in its inaugural season, it will serve as an example to other game developers and event organizers that closed-off franchised systems aren’t viable in the world of esports. If, on the other hand, Activision Blizzard pull off a successful season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see franchised events pop up for other esports too…

What’s Needed for CDL Success?

Now that we’re done talking about Call of Duty League expectations let’s focus on the stuff the league needs to be successful. For starters, it will need massive viewership. As mentioned earlier, viewership alone won’t suffice, but it still needs to be the driving force of the inaugural Call of Duty League season. Viewership is what boosts exposure and what advertisement is all about.

What brings massive viewership? Well, a combination of a ton of things, but high-quality production and entertaining content definitely top the list. Knowing Call of Duty’s gameplay, the latter won’t be lacking, that’s for sure. However, production-wise, we can’t say anything with certainty just yet. While we do expect Activision Blizzard to do a majestic job in terms of production quality, only time will tell if the gaming giant will meet everyone’s expectations.

Why Could Call of Duty League Fail?

Looking at long-term success potential, Call of Duty expectations are intertwined with organizations’ ability to make a profit. The current viewership projections suggest a low ROI, and with a ton of money that’s already been pumped into the league, it could raise red flags.

Even if the inaugural season marks a huge success in terms of both viewership and revenue, considering the immensely high investments, it won’t mean much looking at the grand scheme of things.

On top of that, the notorious franchise model based on cities could cause problems, too. Investors, driven by their success with regular sports, often think of esports as technically the same niche. That’s basically the main reason why they’re so stubbornly pushing for the city-based system. Overwatch League fans weren’t too happy, yet CDL folk are still pushing for it.

All in all, Activision Blizzard has made plenty of bold moves with the inaugural Call of Duty League season, so let’s just hope they know what they’re doing.

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