Leaked Call of Duty franchise league deck reveals minimum salaries, team sizes, expansion plans

Richard Lewis

Dexerto has obtained part of the deck sources claim is being distributed to current and potential investors in Activison Blizzard’s upcoming Call of Duty Franchise League.

[ad name=”article1″]

Although the CDL is due to start in 2020, a comprehensive overlook of the league has yet to be revealed publicly. Instead there has been a slow drip-feed of information through leaks, rumors and the occasional press statement from the developer.

The pages of the deck that were provided to Dexerto were focused on the operational aspects of the teams that will take part, as well as containing some details about Blizzard’s plans to expand and monetize the league beyond 2020.

[ad name=”article2″]

According to the deck, teams that take part in the league will agree to have an appointed general manager as well as 7-10 players on the books. Players will be signed to a “standard contract” and must be provided a minimum salary that currently is agreed upon as being $50,000. 

Although there is no stipulated salary limit for players, the league will operate a “competitive balance tax” in the same way the Overwatch League does. This will mean that if a team goes beyond a certain threshold of spending, the amount they go over by is then divided up by the rest of the teams within the threshold and distributed to them. The maximum player payroll before competitive balance tax looks set to be $1.575 million in year 1.

Credit: Call of Duty MinnesotaCall of Duty Minnesota’s franchise HQ
[ad name=”article3″]

Salaries are to be paid by the team directly to the player. Prize money distribution will be at the behest of teams in the league, but Activision Blizzard look set to state that a minimum of 50% of prize money must go to the team’s players, although they add that this can be divided at the team’s discretion.

The document also stipulates that teams will be “responsible for costs and expenses of fulfilling their responsibilities and exploiting their rights.”

[ad name=”article4″]

In regards to the value of franchise slots, the developer states that they expect a slot to be worth over $45 million in ten years, suggesting this model is something they will continue to support and develop for a long time. They also have said that they expect media rights to be worth approximately $20 million in year 1, although it isn’t clear how this will be earned.

The league is proposed to run from January to July and then the new Call of Duty releases will be scheduled for Fall on the calendar. In their recent Q2 earnings call Activision Blizzard stated that while they will be supporting Call of Duty releases as “live services” and looking to build communities around those games, annual releases are still likely to remain part of their business model.

[ad name=”article5″]

In total, the league hopes to expand to 28 city-based teams.

Also included in the deck there were some references to Overwatch League and how successful a project it had been financially. The included information said the league was projected to make $25 million in revenue in season 1 but actually generated $82 million. Over half of that figure was from Twitch paying $45 million per year in a two year deal for exclusive online broadcasting rights.

OpTic Gaming’s Scump competing at CWL Champs 2019

While we confirmed the veracity of this document with another source who is close to the league they added: “currently these details are subject to change between now and the official announcement.”

Activision responded to our request for comment: “As a matter of policy, we don’t typically comment on rumors and speculation. What we will say however is that there are factual inaccuracies in this reporting. Further information on the future of Call of Duty esports is forthcoming and we look forward to sharing it with the community soon. In the meantime, we’re watching and celebrating the 2019 Call of Duty World League Championship taking place this weekend.”

At the time of publishing, the CWL Championship Grand Final is currently taking place. We will continue to provide updates on the future of the Call of Duty franchise league as and when they become available.

About The Author

Richard Lewis is a veteran, award-winning British esports journalist, with over a decade of experience covering the biggest scandals and uncovering the inner workings of esports. He has been recognized for his contribution to esports with a lifetime achievement award in 2020. You can find Richard on Twitter at @RLewisReports.