Has Call of Duty missed its chance to become a top-tier esport?

first_imgSeveral years ago, it may have been possible to believe that Call of Duty was the “next big thing” in esports. It was becoming hugely popular on YouTube and had a devoted fan base that most other games could only dream of. Then, in 2011, Activision held the Call of Duty Experience, or CoD XP.This was a huge convention that celebrated all things Call of Duty, with maps being replicated in real-life for paintball, zip-lining and a host of other activities.However, the biggest draw of the event was the reveal of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer, showcased in a $1m (£706,000) tournament for the world’s top teams to compete in. At the time, this kind of money was unprecedented, rivalled only by that year’s Dota 2 ‘The International’. To both fans and players that had been trying to give Call of Duty esports its due rights, this seemed like the start of something beautiful.However, there would be another wait before Call of Duty could start being taken seriously – it seemed the Modern Warfare 3 showcase tournament was just that – a showcase. Following it, competitors struggled to find opportunities to play, especially North Americans who were regularly having to travel to Europe for any chance at making money. Yet, the tides began to turn the following year with the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.The game was almost unanimously adored by both competitive and casual players, and the game separated the huge division between the two.“The yearly release cycle of the Call of Duty franchise is one of the dividing factors between Activision and the esports community”That year, there was a total $1.4m (£989,000) prize pool, including yet another million-dollar tournament. There seemed to be a growing connection between players, fans, and more importantly the developers behind the games.Viewership continues to struggleAt the forefront of this immense growth was Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag, CEO and founder of 100 Thieves, who provided competitive Call of Duty with a prominent figurehead to hoist in front of the millions of sceptics around Call of Duty’s potential as an esport. He regularly appeared amongst the behemoths of Twitch at the time, pulling in tens of thousands of viewers as standard. However, Haag later cited himself as one of the reasons that viewership didn’t seem to grow as expected after the breakout Black Ops 2 year, due to him signing an exclusive streaming contract with MLG.tv, which made other pro players follow suit.Photo Credit: Sky SportsThough it may be unfair to suggest Haag single-handedly stunted any growth competitive Call of Duty has seen, there is a correlation. MLG.tv became the exclusive Call of Duty streaming platform from Call of Duty: Ghosts onwards, and there were clear drops in viewership for streamers themselves. Unfortunately, that trend has continued for the esport itself, despite now also being available on Twitch. For example, the first event of the Advanced Warfare season (November 2014) had over 250,000 viewers. The most recent event (January 2018) struggled to reach 50,000 viewers at its peak. Now, that’s not to say there are generally less fans now than there was before; but interest is clearly dwindling in the franchise; as the money goes up, the numbers are going down.Compare this to the recent ELEAGUE Major in which Cloud9 took down FaZe Clan in what is already being named one of, if not the greatest final in the history of esports. CS:GO is a five-year-old game that continues to excel, beating its own record for most viewers on a Twitch channel, generating more than 1,130,000 concurrent viewers in the Grand Final. From this angle, it looks like Call of Duty has missed its opportunity to become a top-tier esport; though it may teeter on the edge of glory, there must be serious improvements in viewership to give it this honour. Held back by an annual release cycleThe yearly release cycle of the Call of Duty franchise is one of the dividing factors between Activision and the esports community. Naturally, Activision seek to get their money’s worth each November and shift the competitive side of their game to the newest title. With this comes an assortment of issues.First and foremost, a different game means players must learn an entirely new game, and perfect it within 9 months. Countless players have buckled under the pressures of having to learn an entirely new game having hardly mastered the previous, and for this reason we’ve seen a pretty unstable infrastructure in terms of the capabilities and preservation of both teams and individual players. Only in the last couple of years, with contracts and salaries getting involved, have we seen this infrastructure start to improve.Not only this, but for the most part, competitive and casual fans alike haven’t particularly enjoyed the games being played since the beloved Black Ops 2. Call of Duty: Ghosts was a fan-favourite due to the personalities and drama occurring around the scene, but it is not commonly seen as one of the better titles in the franchise. Advanced Warfare initiated the “jetpack” phase, but was once again carried by storylines, not least OpTic Gaming’s failure to win Champs and Nadeshot’s subsequent retirement.Black Ops III seemed to follow in the footsteps of its bloodline, with more money on the line, increased viewership and much larger growth than had been seen previous. In fact, the World Championships topped the previous record for Call of Duty esports events by 40%, with matches surpassing 20 million views.Following this though, came Infinite Warfare; the trailer was the most disliked gaming video in the history of YouTube, and it seemed doomed from the off. Pair that with an insistence on streaming on MLG.tv, as well as a negative response even from casual players, and Activision and MLG seemed to be laying their bed. Though MLG ran a pretty efficient campaign across the year, including the finals being held in the Amway Centre, home of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, Infinite Warfare had already put itself and the franchise in a difficult position.None of the top tier esports have anything near a yearly release cycle; Dota 2 was released in 2013, League of Legends in 2009 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in 2012. This means teams, players and fans have had a long time to adjust to the game, teams and players, and devise strategy that places them apart from their enemies and create a huge skill gap for players to aspire to find their footing in.The divide between casual and competitive expandsFor whatever reason, there has long been a discontent and disconnect from casual players to their competitive counterparts. It is a commonly-held belief that the reason for the deteriorating state is due to Activision’s desire to cater to the competitive minority (and not possibly because a game released every year for 15 years could get monotonous). A video from Youtuber Eight Thoughts recently took Twitter by storm as it cited OpTic’s Seth “Scump” Abner as ‘ruining Call of Duty’. Though the video was clearly not well thought-out and derogatory in nature, it brought a lot of casual players out of the woodworks, complaining about the game fixes suggested by pro players. Suggestions that Call of Duty should cater more to the competitive side of the game are often met with criticism, despite how it may work out better for all parties.It could be argued that Call of Duty fans still look at the franchise through rose-tinted glasses, nostalgic of a time where playing in a 6-man party on Modern Warfare 2, overpowered perks and ‘noob tubes’ on deck was all that a young man or woman needed following the trials and tribulations of attending school. This, however, ignores the steps forward that Call of Duty has taken so as to improve the game for every player, regardless of which side they fall on. The most evident of these being the inclusion of League Play in World War II (which the community hasn’t had since Black Ops 2), which is a clear attempt to bridge that gap between casual and competitive players. Combine that with regular weapon fixes and more consumer interaction and it is clear that whilst Activision fund esports more, they are also attempting to keep casual players content.“Most would find it hard to believe that the Overwatch League and Call of Duty World League were run by the same people were it not for the name value of Activision.”Furthermore, public match rules have still not been changed to replicate the rules which are used in the CoD World League, which seems to be quite the oversight. This gap can be closed further simply by giving competitors and casual players the same game to play; this being a common source of discomfort from casual fans dipping their toes into esports for the first time.Really hope Call Of Duty follow these other esports and go down the route of building the game completely around competitive.— Splyce Bance (@Bance) January 29, 2018Activision turn their attention to the Overwatch LeagueIt’s hard for Call of Duty esports fans to comprehend the level of support, investment and simple nurturing that Overwatch has received from Activision and MLG from the off. This is a game that had no proven prowess as a game, let alone as the world’s biggest and most expensive esport.It almost feels like a personal insult to see so much advertising and marketing go the way of Overwatch when the Call of Duty community has been clamouring for even half that level of support for the last decade.Best selling game in NA for 9 Years, worldwide for 8 of the last 9, and we can’t even get any YT or Twitter targeted ads. Where’s my splash screen when I log into CoD? Where’s CWL putting out hype clips from previous leagues? Where’s ANY type of advertisement for a 700k league?!— eU Clayster (@Clayster) January 22, 2018Most would find it hard to believe that the Overwatch League and Call of Duty World League were run by the same people were it not for the name value of Activision.But with this comes the concern that Activision and MLG may simply slowly phase out the support they have been providing Call of Duty in recent years, becoming an afterthought to their favoured lovechild. Though Call of Duty esports had a loyal and committed fan base prior to MLG support, it’s hard to say it would have the same now if people start losing their careers over it, now esports has become the monster it is.It’s hard to say whether Call of Duty has missed its opportunity to become a tier one esport, but there is not a lot of evidence to suggest that opportunity is there. In the Black Ops 2 year, it seemed like Call of Duty was well on its way up in the esports world, but has since become somewhat of a joke in esport circles. Be it due to its residence on console, the yearly cycle or the “casual game” tag that it houses, it is a constant struggle for fans of the game to be taken seriously in the competitive world. As much as we would like to see the game succeed, it is hard to be optimistic.last_img read more

Thursday May 23rd Local Sports

first_imgANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The series finale between the Minnesota Twins and the Los Angeles Angels was postponed Wednesday because of weather and rescheduled for Thursday. It rained at Angel Stadium two hours before Wednesday’s game, causing puddles to form in both left and right field. The grounds crew worked for over an hour to remove water from the outfield, but conditions remained unplayable. They’ll try to play the game at 3:05 this afternoon, with the pre-game at 2:30 on AM-1300 KGLO IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa has hired former Lehigh and Ball State head coach Billy Taylor to be an assistant on Fran McCaffery’s staff. The Hawkeyes say that Taylor, who spent three years as the director of basketball operations in Iowa City from 2014-16, will replace Andrew Francis. Francis left Iowa for a position with California. MASON CITY — Top-ranked in Class 1A Newman started out the baseball season last night with a 10-0, five-inning win at home over North Iowa. 8th-grader Doug Taylor went four innings, striking out eight. Josh Fitzgerald had a two-run homer in the third. Newman travels to Charles City tonight before getting back into conference play tomorrow hosting Garner-Hayfield-Ventura. — Boys substate semifinal soccer== 1A Substate 2Humboldt 2, Clear Lake 0== 2A Substate 3Hudson 10, Hampton-Dumont-CAL 0 — high school softball last nightNewman 12, North Iowa 2Central Springs 10, Eagle Grove 0North Butler 12, Osage 6Rockford 20, Lake Mills 1 CLEAR LAKE — The Clear Lake softball team used a seven-run second inning on their way to a 13-5 win over Waverly-Shell Rock to open up their season at Lions Field last night. Clear Lake is off until next Wednesday when they host Iowa Falls-Alden. IOWA CITY — Iowa basketball player Joe Wieskamp has withdrawn his name from the 2019 NBA Draft and will return for his sophomore season.“I am excited to announce that I will be returning to the University of Iowa for my sophomore season,” said Wieskamp. “I learned a lot of valuable information going through the NBA Draft process that will help me continue to grow now, and in the future when I decide to take that next step. But for now, my focus is helping this Iowa team be the best that we can be. The future is bright! Go Hawks!”Wieskamp was second in the Big Ten Conference in 3-point accuracy (.424, 59-of-139), and ranked third on the Hawkeyes in scoring (11.1 ppg) and steals (32), and second in rebounding (4.9 rpg) last season as a freshman. The native of Muscatine, Iowa, twice earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors and tied Iowa’s single-game 3-point percentage record when he made all six 3-point attempts in Iowa’s 24-point win over Illinois , tying Jeff Horner (2004 versus Penn State) and Jim Bartels (1995 at Ohio State).“We are happy to have Joe back for his sophomore season,” said Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery. “I’m glad that Joe had the opportunity to go through the process and receive feedback from NBA personnel. I’m incredibly proud of the professional approach Joe took during this process. This experience provided him feedback on what he needs to work on as he strives to reach his full potential and play at the highest level. Joe is a valuable member of our team on and off the court, and we look forward to him being a leader for us next season.”center_img CLEAR LAKE — Clear Lake plays in the Class 3A boys state golf tournament today and tomorrow at the Lakeside Golf Course in Fort Dodge. Coach Eric Perry says it’s a course his team is familiar with.Perry says it will be a very competitive team raceClear Lake is the only area team that qualified for the boys state golf from the area. Forest City’s Avery Busta qualified as an individual for the Class 2A tournament at the American Legion Memorial Golf Course in Marshalltown. MASON CITY — The Mason City High baseball team opened up the season with a 1-0 win over Charles City last night at Roosevelt Field. Dylan Miller pitched a one-hit complete-game shutout, striking out 11. He also had the game-winning RBI in the bottom of the sixth, knocking in Avery Mellman, who had singled and stole second and third prior to scoring the lone run of the contest. Mason City travels to Decorah tonight. DALLAS — Former Iowa star Megan Gustafson was waived on Wednesday by the Dallas Wings of the WNBA. The 17th overall pick did not make the Wings’ roster cut down to 12 players. Gustafson played in three pre-season games for Dallas, scoring eight points in 33 minutes of play. The 6-3 post from Port Wing Wisconsin was women’s college basketball’s 2019 Naismith Award winner after leading Iowa to a Big Ten Tournament championship and to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1993. OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Cole McDonald allowed five hits and struck out nine in eight innings, and bottom seed Iowa knocked off regular-season champion Indiana 4-2 in the Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday night.The Hawkeyes (31-22), swept by Indiana in a three-game series in March and losers of five straight entering the tournament, play Nebraska on Thursday night. The Hoosiers (36-20) meet Minnesota in an afternoon elimination game.The Hawkeyes broke through against Indiana starter Pauly Milto (8-6) in the seventh. Ben Norman scored on a play at the plate and, after Chris Whelan’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly, Izaya Fullard hit a two-out RBI single off Connor Manous for a 3-1 lead.Indiana managed two singles and a walk against McDonald (6-3) before scoring in the sixth when Matt Gorski followed Drew Ashley’s triple with a base hit.Grant Leonard worked the ninth for his school-record 14th save. — high school baseball last nightCentral Springs 12, Eagle Grove 10Lake Mills 3, Rockford 0North Union 13, Belmond-Klemme 2last_img read more

INISHOWEN START-UPS SHOW THE WAY AT BUSINESS AWARDS

first_imgThe recession may still be biting but the Inishowen community showed that it is fighting back. The local business community was out in force to attend the first ever Inishowen Development Partnership’s Business Awards Ceremony last Thursday in Buncrana.The event, organised by the Inishowen Development Partnership (IDP), was held to celebrate the success of local entrepreneurs and small business owners who have been supported in their start up by IDP and to showcase the talent and entrepreneurial skills within the Peninsula. Three new local businesses – Hugh Doherty, Iconic Flowers Ltd, Eilish Grant, Grant Apparel (Clubman) Ltd and Jonathan Doherty & Christopher Lynch, (EHP) Efficient Heating & Plumbing Company Ltd all won awards on the night and now go forward to represent Inishowen at the Local Development Companies Regional Finals in Cavan.The businesses, with support from the IDP, the Department of Social Protection, and Solas, successfully managed their transition from unemployment to employment and learned key skills and life lessons on the journey so far.Even better, they have also created job opportunities in an area with limited work possibilities at this time.Speaking at the event, Rosemary Lyons, IDP Enterprise Officer, said that “It must be the worst thing to look back on life and say ‘I would have, I could have, or I should have. “Particularly when there are Agencies out there, like the Inishowen Development Partnership who want to, and can help those taking the journey to self-employment and business start-up.“We want to acknowledge the quality of life benefits that self- employment opportunities bring, to both individuals and the local community.The inaugural Business Awards were organised to recognise IDPs entrepreneurial clients, making every effortto start a new business in difficult times.IDP Manager Shauna McClenaghan explained that the event aimed to “highlight the resulting job creation from these businesses, both full and part-time and other indirect employment opportunities.“We wanted to showcase and celebrate the amazing talent and entrepreneurship which exists in the Inishowen Peninsula. The IDP offers a range of practical supports and for some the best option may be, access the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance Scheme.Which currently allows those taking the self-employment option, the opportunity to retain their social welfare payment for a period between 9 months and 2 years, on a reducing basis, while setting up in business.For others it may be knowledge of the Revenue “Start your Own Business Tax Relief initiative”.This scheme provides an exemption from Income Tax up to a maximum of €40,000 per annum, for a period of two years, to individuals setting up a qualifying business; having been unemployed for a period of at least 12 months prior to starting the business. While this was a positive Event for Inishowen, the one cloud hanging over the Event was the future of the Local Development Company itself.Given the uncertainty around the delivery mechanism of the new Local Development programmes, Rosemary Lyons, pointed out that the Enterprise Officers role combines developmental, vocational and business mentoring roles and stressed the importance of ensuring that this service continues locally and that the benefits to families and individuals is not underestimated.INISHOWEN START-UPS SHOW THE WAY AT BUSINESS AWARDS was last modified: May 28th, 2014 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:awardsBusinessBusiness start-upsCavanIDPnewsRegional finalslast_img read more