CDL upends format weeks before debut

ATVI recently announced a shift in the Call of Duty League’s format—or so they would have you believe.1

Originally, the CDL intended to run a series of events internationally to facilitate league matches. These events—a sort of CDL World Tour, if you like—would also play host to a amateur system’s tournament series.

In a statement published this past Christmas Eve, ATVI announced it would replace these league matches with what it calls “pro tournaments.” The CDL is quick to point out that this change means more professional matches will be played at each event and, as a result, it will build more hype for its on-site spectators and stream audience.

The CDL World Tour remains a huge risk for ATVI’s latest esports venture, but there are more warning signs in the statement that suggest the CDL might not be what fans expect (especially in the context of the Overwatch League).

If watchability is truly a focus for ATVI, you’d think you’d be able to cite OWL’s operation as an example of success. This is not the case.

However, CODXVI is, thankfully, simpler than its previous iterations. By abandoning a class-based meta preferred by previous series iterations, the game’s mechanics and weapon selection will have a chance to shine in the spotlight. Personally, I have concerns about the frantic pace and sheer complexity of a typical COD match being too much to digest in a single stream for the uninitiated viewer—especially on respawn-enabled game modes. This fundamental issue is something that most team-based esports struggle with the most, and OWL is no exception.

And what are “pop-culture infusions,” anyway? Concerts? Raves? A Call of Duty-meets-Ingress clone? Gimmicks like these might not turn out to be total train wrecks, but it’s hard to guess at what ATVI have in mind.

On the other hand, fan-first experiences have tremendous potential, though these might be as straightforward as announcements of new content for CODXVI. These experiences will more than likely mean on-site playable demos of new multiplayer content and new weapons. Though it’s a shame that those lucky enough to make the pilgrimage will earn this privilege, the hype it could generate will help maintain the stability of CODXVI going forward.

I, for one, do hope we are getting an expansion of what turned out to be an impressive re-telling of the early beats of Modern Warfare’s namesake.

The CDL remains something to keep an eye on, regardless of the turmoil currently embroiling ATVI’s other franchise-based esports venture—no—especially because of that other venture currently in meltdown mode. If the CDL took any lessons learned from OWL, I hope they found committed staff with fresh ideas on creating watchable content instead of relying on a sheer mountain of cash to attract the hype it needs to maintain critical mass.

Not changing games every year would be a start.

TLEP #030 – May I Drink These Beers and Rant About Call of Duty Now?

The Call of Duty news came out yesterday and while I published my initial thoughts from the trailer yesterday, I still wanted to talk about some of the points that I didn’t touch on in my previous post. However, the resultant podcast episode was recorded after I decided that beer was perfectly alright to begin consuming. Thus, my thought process may be flawed in several areas.

If you want to subscribe, the lowercase esports podcast feed links are over on the podcast index.

In my opinion, Infinite Warfare could be the first worthwhile COD game since Black Ops 2.

That trailer is great. Let’s go over the reasons why.

No clear jump jet mobility in the showcase. Are we going back to normal?

Titanfall was ahead of its time, but I think it’s fair to say that it lost to Call of Duty because it entered into the shooter popularity contest. However, mobility in shooters are usually one of those predictable things that complicate tactical situations that maps are meant to balance. In a situation where one might have watched two corners at once, now you have to consider three or four times as many angles above ground-level. Ignoring the hook mechanic briefly shown off after “takeoff” and focusing completely on ground based combat, the trailer didn’t showcase advanced mobility, even though plenty of fighters could be seen running around with full suits of body armor. Anything to reduce the insanity of the last two entries would be a welcome deviation.

Space. We in it.

Do I really have to elaborate? Fighter-to-fighter combat? Capital ships? Other planets? How does this universe’s faster-than-light travel work? This is a question generator of the good variety. There’s so much that can be added in by writers who have wider creative scopes than in previous iterations of the game, though Advanced Warfare was a pretty neat entry into the series’ campaigns, I think they could tell something a bit more down-to-Earth, so to speak. Hey, what if they just completely Homeworld this shit? What if this is actually the product of a Infinity Ward dev exploring a what-if for making Halo? Or Homeworld? Or a unique idea?

No Zombies? But what will keep the twelve year olds with questionable parents occupied and out of the multiplayer modes?

Nope, IW’s confirmed that there’s going to be zombies. Less squeakers in the multiplayer, thank goodness.

Will I be compelled enough to buy anything but the standard SKU?

I wonder. Infinity Ward did a livestream today wherein game producers talked about new lethals and new tacticals for players to experiment with in the multiplayer modes and I sort of froze on that thought. New things that aren’t guns? I mean, I’m sure that the multiplayer mode will be a return to form with the create-a-class points system and none of this class business. And a draft for a shooter? Come on now, why not just go back to what made COD popular in the first place–console scrubs using controllers with auto-aim to shoot quote-less-deserving-endquote players in the face followed by a boast about the victor’s present bank account balance.

Actually–what if the PC version of the game is good enough (and supported enough) to spark enough of the community–all its own–to get the console gamers to come along and ditch controllers? This game could be that last straw that forces console/controller players on side, truly relegating consoles to the casuals of the gaming scene.

Regardless, if they screw up this chance and fumble all of this hype they’re creating for themselves, I won’t be surprised, but I will be disappointed. I want to like Call of Duty again. I think this game can right many wrongs perpetrated against the community–especially the preference of console systems over PC players.

As for the question at hand: you bet. Modern Warfare Remastered just ratcheted the average sale price for this title up anywhere from ten to twenty dollars. That’s something $ATVI is going to be keeping a close eye on, especially if it finds its approach successful here and feels confident enough to try this approach again with another franchise.