12 November 2015 - 02:38
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Call of Duty eSports Viewership - The Facts Sheet

Every competitive Call of Duty fan dreams of the day we have hundreds of thousands watching our great game. We look at Dota majors, CS:GO majors and LCS as examples of what every eSport should achieve.
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Every competitive Call of Duty fan dreams of the day we have hundreds of thousands watching our great game. We look at Dota majors, CS:GO majors and LCS as examples of what every eSport should achieve. Viewership, prize pools, crowd funding, and publisher support has exploded in specific games within the last few years. Our eSport, the one we follow and have played for a decade, lacks several key components that these other few have, yet fans, or “viewers” fail to comprehend the differences between a console eSport and the PC master race.

Let's differentiate, compare and contrast, the things we need to the things we have. Look full circle at a game like Counter Strike, which since its early days of CPL in 2001 had prize pools sponsored by the likes of Intel, Logitech, and Netgear to the tune of $100,000. CS:GO now has loading screens directed at competitive events, in-game UI that displays current broadcasts, and news updates on the game's loading page for future content/events. The same goes for Dota 2 and LoL. These games direct their “casual players” to the competitive aspects of the game.

Many fans can remember the “Free to Play” documentary Valve released in March of 2014, chronicling the paths of three Dota 2 professionals as they played in the largest event on the Dota calendar, The International. We can remember the article where Dustin Beck, head of eSports at Riot said, “It’s a significant investment that we’re not making money from,” when speaking of the LCS just over two years ago. All of these games are made for the competitive aspect - 5v5 team based games, all on PC, played for multiple years on a competitive level by millions.

[caption id="attachment_13351" align="aligncenter" width="763"]DOTA2 and CSGO have had 1 million unique players in the last 30 days. DOTA2 and CSGO have had 1 million unique players in the last 30 days.[/caption]

Call of Duty has a very large player-base: 12 million active Black Ops 2 players to this day, according to Activision. 99% of these players join up with friends daily, play 6v6 Search and Destroy, Domination, and Team Deathmatch, and have never heard of competitive eSports. They play for prestige tags and gun camos, and they enjoy the comradery. They play after work, on the weekends, or with friends when they get out of school, never to see a loading screen advertising the next event, never to see news articles posted about the upcoming LAN tournament or online league.

However, over the last 3 years we have seen growth, against the odds, and to the benefit of the games top professional players. These top professional players, mainly North American, have taken in over $1.2 Million in prize money from both online and LAN tournaments in CoD:AW alone, excluding the $1 million dollar CoD Champs tournament. 

In 2013, all events other than CoD Champs, had well under 100,000 viewers. Then in 2014, Call of Duty set attendance records at MLG Anaheim and broke viewership records across the board for MLG, UMG, and Gfinity events. UMG OrLANdo, in January of 2015, had 154,000 MAX concurrent viewers. The X-Games viewership in 2014 hovered around 90,000 while X-Games 2015 was around 110,000 viewers.

Call of Duty eSports has had MULTIPLE events around or over 100,000 viewers in Advanced Warfare, and never forget, we had over 92,000 people watching #OpTicPlaysAW on October 28th of 2014, the beginning of the game's release.

Clayster recently tweeted, “Everyone is wondering why growth sucked this past year, maybe 'cause games got stale,” but at the same time, he has never had more top 3 finishes, prize money, or viability in his career than he has had at this very moment. So I beg to differ with Nadeshot who says his switch to MLGtv is the reason for "lack of growth" when all we have seen is growth. Growth was also seen in prize pools and payouts to players in the MLG and Gfinity leagues. More players in Call of Duty have earned more prize money from Ghosts to Advanced Warfare than any other time in this console game's history.

 

[caption id="attachment_13353" align="aligncenter" width="585"]Payouts across different eSports titles. Payouts across different eSports titles.[/caption]

Without loading screens, in-game UI stream links, or news articles within the game to competitive events, we have still grown. Not a single YouTube channel has lost subscribers. Not a single Twitter account has decreased in followers. More Call of Duty pros stream now than ever before. More Call of Duty professionals have a career, not just a “short term” bonus.

This article was written by @CoD_Dinomite.

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