Blizzard have done wonders with their Overwatch League (OWL). Leveraging their expertise in gaming and bringing it closer to traditional sports has paid off, but this is hardly all there is. With multiple planned expansions to physical venues across the world, the game is doing splendidly. Now Activision, the company’s alter-ego and partnership in the Blizzard/Activision conglomerate, is considering bringing more of the OWL structure to Treyarch’s upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.
A New Lesson Learnt and Applied
It’s no secret. Blizzard/Activision want to bring the OWL to CoD:BO4, copying the successful model and driving even better results for the classical first-person shooter (FPS). Now, according to esports journalist Richard Lewis, Blizzard have already started inviting teams to the upcoming CoD:BO4 league, which, Lewis estimates, will be franchised.
Lewis attended the first in history London FACEIT Major for CS:GO and discussed what the company’s plans for the future could be. He reiterated the model that the OWL has been currently using and the future plans they have been trying to pilot. With OWL, each team or organization will be tied to a particular city.
Reportedly, there have already been investments in China, Canada, and France. More are to follow. A similar pattern is now emerging for esports and particularly Call of Duty. More specifically, Lewis outlined that Blizzard have offered reassurances to esports organizations buying into the OWL franchise that they will be awarded CWL rights as well.
Investors have been particularly peevish to get a foothold into all of Blizzard’s products or they wouldn’t have invested at all. In other words, the franchised team for the OWL Los Angeles venue ought to be the same organization for Call of Duty. This, naturally, leads to a top-heaviness in the entire industry and it’s certainly not the best way to run a league.
Business or Entertainment – There’s Still a Bit of Difference
During the live stream, Lewis explained that OWL has signed up a lot of mainstream sports consortiums in order to guarantee a solid return on its investment. However, according to Lewis’ sources, Blizzard are going to change the tune in CoD where the focus will be more on “entertainment consortiums.” Lewis elaborated further,
They want to get more entertainers in, and have these groups of entertainers that band together and create these weird little funds and little groups. They think it would be a great fit for Call of Duty, because of the overlap with hip-hop culture.
Apparently, Lewis has a lot of insider information, because none of this news have been confirmed yet. However, he is a long-standing journalist in the esports segment with years of experience and generally considered a trustworthy authority.
The Overwatch League has been a game changer in so many ways that it may as well be the future of esports. A perfect example of how esports can benefit from mainstream, the CWL is more than likely to copy the successful model of OWL this season. And it’s not just about catering to investors’ fears and desires.