Activision is the latest video game publisher to start taking e-sports seriously. Today the company announced the formation of a new Call of Duty World League, which will kick off in January 2016. The next big game in the Call of Duty series, Black Ops III, launches in November.
The league isn't just for pros
The new league will have an international focus, with players from North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, and will have a total prize pool of $3 million. But the league isn't just for Call of Duty pros. It'll feature two divisions: one for professional players, and another for amateurs aspiring to the pro ranks. The league will feature a number of regional competitions, and the top players will move on to the Call of Duty Championship. The tournament — which originally debuted three years ago — will be moved from spring to fall in 2016, to accommodate the new league structure.
The e-sports success of games like Dota 2 — which this year featured a record-breaking $11.4 million prize pool for its annual championship — has led to several big name developers and publishers entering the field. In addition to the expanded Call of Duty e-sports initiative, Microsoft has also announced a new championship series for Halo, with a $1 million prize pool. The Halo World Championship will debut later this year.
Meanwhile, as e-sports continue to become more mainstream, they've also come under greater scrutiny. Governing body the Electronic Sports League recently began testing for performance enhancing drugs in the wake of an Adderall abuse scandal.