Call of Duty Pro Franchises Buy-in Reported at $25 Million

Wyatt Fossett,

March 14, 2019 11:15 AM

As the professional Call of Duty World League shifts to the city-based franchise model, reports suggest that Activision Blizzard is opening their phone lines to interested parties, with a $25 million asking price for a buy-in.

In a report first published on ESPN, it has been revealed that the up-and-coming Call of Duty Pro League (yet to be properly named) has come to a tentative conclusion regarding the upstart cost of its city-based teams. Mentioned at a remarkably high $25 million, Activision Blizzard is currently opening their phones to “official indications of interest” in a non-binding form from parties that might want to snatch up a team spot in the inaugural season. 

The standard league is set to begin competition in the year 2020, and will have a potentially potent start. Especially if you consider that longevity and success of the Call of Duty World League with MLG, and their ties to Blizzard, who have recently sold 8 expansion teams to cities around the world for $20 million per team. 

Part of the conversation surrounding this news is speculation on interested parties, and the 16 teams currently participating in the CoD Pro League are probably top of that pile. But the other side of it all comes floating around the asking price. 

The Future Format of Major Esports

If you haven’t watched the Overwatch League yet, you’re missing out. As the Esports industry grows, Blizzard’s OWL is a very high-functioning professional competitive league, more circuits (as they were once called) will be looking to make the move to city-based permanent franchises. Because it does a lot to establish a path for growth, and solidifies a league structure that fans can grow alongside of. Much like other professional competitive environments like the National Hockey League, the National Football League, and Major League Baseball. 

All of those sports leagues have established franchises that have grown -- with strong ups and downs both in terms of competitive success, and financial earnings -- over time, all the while fan ferver is bred from one generation to the next. It doesn’t really matter who owns the Los Angeles Dodgers, because Dodger fans will back their team, and having that ability is almost necessary outright in the success of a competitive organization. 

Call of Duty Esports is Bigger Than Ever
Call of Duty Esports is Bigger Than Ever

Over the past few decades, we’ve seen the rise, fall, birth, and death of Esports teams because everything up until recently has been built on a “qualify and you’re in, lose enough and you’re out” mentality. This has made it hard for fans to get behind franchises, propping players and personalities above teams, as fandoms to follow. 

While folks like UMG Esports Events’ Josh Reilly have a point in stating that the Call of Duty World Leagues and CoD itself could lose some luster over teams like OpticGaming, and Team EnVy having to lose/change their names, it hasn’t proven to be a huge upset in the Overwatch League as multiple North American competitive Overwatch teams adapted well. The Houston Outlaws are partially owned by that exact OpticGaming organization, and their Overwatch fans followed them into OWL. 

What's It Worth?

This is all to say; is that worth a possible $25 million investment? If you compare it to other markets like the Overwatch League and League of Legends, two games with a much higher international presence, both leagues which set their prices between $10-$20 million for a franchise, it can feel like an immediate “no” is growing on your tongue. But if you consider the longevity of the Call of Duty video game franchise, and it’s consistent presence in the competitive gaming world (and now with the Call of Duty World League) since console LAN events began, the immediate answer evolves into a much more unsure direction. 

It’s important to note that this is a speculative number. There’s no concrete paperwork that suggests this is their asking price. Another key factor is that teams don’t have to cut $25 million checks, it’s not all upfront. We’re also at a stage where Activision Blizzard is merely judging the interest of potential teams. The league is coming (in 2020), there’s no doubt about that, and whether or not the final number is actually $25 million, there will be established city teams taking part in it.

There is no way around it, heading into the future of Call of Duty Esports is going to be spectacularily exciting. Which major Call of Duty World League teams will be the most interesting storyline to follow in the coming months. The unnamed Call of Duty pro league is set to launch next year. 


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