The franchising of Call of Duty esports looks to be right around the corner. However, it appears that anyone who is looking get involved will need to pay more than initially reported - with bidding for a spot apparently approaching $40 million.
While other competitive titles like Blizzard’s own Overwatch and Riot Games’ League Of Legends have embraced the franchising model - asking for around $20 million and $10/$12 million, respectively - Call of Duty has been left behind the curve despite Activision repeatedly hinting at the possibility.
However, in mid-February 2019, it was confirmed by Activision that the game would be shifting to franchises - leaving plenty of questions up in the air about who would be investing in spots and how much they would cost.
An initial report from ESPN stated that Activision Blizzard had reportedly been asking for $25 million per spot in the CWL for the upcoming 2020 season. However, that cost of investment now appears to have changed.
According to esports veteran, broadcaster and industry-insider Scott ‘SirScoots’ Smith, that price tag has risen sharply. On April 28, he tweeted: “Based on the OWL Dallas event, unless the process is over, a spot in the CWL is going to get even more expensive. Last I heard the bidding was already close to $40mil a city.”
Based on the OWL Dallas event, unless the process is over, a spot in the CWL is going to get even more expensive. Last I heard the bidding was already close to $40mil a city.— Scott Smith (@SirScoots) April 28, 2019
However, ESPN's Jacob Wolf disputed that figure by reiterating his report that the price stood at $25 million for any investor - be they a new group or a current Overwatch League team owner.
Bidding is definitely not at $40 million...— Jacob Wolf (@JacobWolf) April 28, 2019
The Overwatch League has now begun holding 'home' games, and with a massive turnout at the Dallas Fuel's first home match, the value of the CWL spots could be going up.
Team Envy and Dallas Fuel founder Mike 'Hastr0' Rufail posted a video of the team's home match, boasting about the impressive crowd size.
Details about the upcoming Call of Duty franchised model remain scarce, with no indication about how many teams will be involved, whether or not games will be paid in a single arena like the Overwatch League, or if current rosters will have to break up.
One thing for certain is that the teams will be city-based in a similar, if not identical fashion, to how OWL teams are currently operated and branded.
It has been reported that owners of current OWL teams will be able to have the first right of negotiation when it comes to negotiating for their respective home markets - meaning OpTic Gaming and Envy would be able to retain their Houston and Dallas branding.
With the Black Ops 4 competitive season in full swing, it remains to be seen just who invests into the Call of Duty franchise league, and just when the finer details will be announced.