It appears that the trend of franchising in esports is getting more and more prevalent as Call of Duty looks to be the next major game to adopt the model.
Sources claim that the series' publishing company Activision will look to introduce the format to the CoD World League as early as later this year, which would suggest that it would be for the Black Ops 4 season.
Since its creation, the CWL has primarily used a promotion-relegation format, which means that the slots within the Pro League have been filled by teams based on merit and performance.
However, it appears that will not be the case for much longer as Activision will look to sell of team spots and hope to mimic the success of its highly successful Overwatch League, which currently has 12 franchises, all of whom have paid over $20 million for a spot.
This was made apparent by the wording Activision used in their 2017 annual report:
Furthermore, sources have told ESPN Esports that the owners of the Overwatch League franchises will get first right of negotiation for a CWL franchise spot, per the terms of their contracts with Activision.
This means that if and when the CWL does adopt a franchising model, the OWL team owners will get the first chance to purchase a spot.
Currently, only the owners of Dallas Fuel (Team EnVy) and the Houston Outlaws (OpTic Gaming) are involved in the professional ranks of Call of Duty esports.
While Activision is yet to comment on these reports, all signs point to the Black Ops 4 season of the CWL likely being the first one to have some form of franchising.
During the game's Community Reveal Event in May, Mark Lamia, the chairman of developer company Treyarch, hinted at BO4 being the first CoD title to last longer than one year, which would break the yearly release cycle that the series has had over the past 15 years.
"It's the deepest, most replayable game we've ever made across the three pillars of Black Ops 4, multiplayer, zombies and our new mode, blackout. This is a game for every kind of player. It's a game that's built to last for years to come."
If this is indeed the case, then franchising would make even more sense for Acitivision and the CWL, considering that two of the biggest esports leagues - OWL and League of Legends Championship Series - both continually update their games rather than releasing new ones.