With nine teams added in North America and Europe, Activision Blizzard's upcoming franchise Call of Duty has been hooked: 100 Thieves, the organization founded by Call of Duty legend Matthew "Nadeshot" Hague, will not participate.
In a video posted on Twitter, Nadeshot explained the reasons for his decision, including entry fees – reported $ 25 million, ESPN sources said in March – and the league's claim that teams use their brands to make the call of service specific or creating new sister brands for the league.
Nadeshot once led the most transformative organization in Call of Duty history, OpTic Gaming, and has since built its own world-renowned brand. His 1
The message dear to Nadeshot, his organization and the fans of the team should not come as a surprise. This $ 25 million price tag is a big bet on a game that has had relatively little success in recent years. Call of Duty was once the most popular game in the world – it combined the rise of YouTube and content creators like Nadeshot with outstanding releases such as "Modern Warfare 2", "Black Ops" and others.
But much has changed since then. Fortnite is the largest game in the world, and others such as League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are leading the sport. Slots in the League of Legends Championship Series, the North American portion of the game's global ecosystem, are sold for around $ 30 million.
The League of Legends World Cup 2018 reached a peak of 44 million viewers worldwide, according to developer Riot Games. How can Call of Duty – which landed on Twitch at nearly 120,000 English viewers in its World Cup – be compared even if viewer streams have been added to other platforms?
Such as the Overwatch League, also powered by Activision Blizzard The future Call of Duty league offers owners of sports teams a well-known value proposition: Geolocated franchisees with the ability to sell tickets and engage in local sponsorship. That's why six of the League's nine teams – Dallas, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, New York and Paris – have sports team owners as their main investors.
Eight of the nine cities in the Call of Duty franchise league are also represented in the Overwatch League and are supported by the same millionaires and billionaires. For these buyers, the $ 25 million spend represents a doubling of Activision Blizzard and confidence in the company's CEO, Bobby Kotick. Although the city model is commercially attractive in traditional sports, there is still no data to suggest that it works in sport. The Overwatch League and Call of Duty will be the faces of this experiment in 2020.
If you're the owner of Los Angeles Rams, Stan Kroenke, the chairman of Zygi Wilf of Minnesota Vikings, or the Wilpon family of New York Mets, $ 25 million is in the bucket. But if you're 100 thieves, it's a huge investment – one that could ruin your startup in the future – and it's questionable if the reward outweighs the risk.
It's not that 100 thieves can not afford the league, nor that its leadership, like Nadeshot or Activision Blizzard's former senior vice president, Mike Sepso – both of them with a background in Call of Duty – do not stand the chance understand. Actually, it's the opposite. These are two of the most competent people in the industry who face a long-term but risky opportunity for the future of their team and say no.
If 100 thieves can not see value in franchising risk, who can?
Again, this is about more than Call of Duty for Nadeshot's organization: 100 Thieves field teams in several sports. How can you convince others to trust your business judgment when you're putting more than $ 25 million in franchise fees and operating costs into a leaking league? Who will give you money again if you use most or everything for a project? For 100 Thieves and many domestic start-up brands, the risk of burning investors and damaging their reputation in talks with future lenders is too high.
It will be sad that Nadeshot & Co. 2020 is not represented in the professional Call of Duty. The possibility of re-entry at a likely higher price will be offered in the future, and perhaps there will be enough data to support such a big decision. But right now there are none and 100 Thieves will not be Call of Duty's last big brand to participate in the future.