Could Modern Warfare Remastered cannibalise Infinite Warfare's pro scene?
I think it is fair to say that Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is not the Call of Duty game that the majority of the series’ hardcore fans are looking forward to most this year. That honour goes to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered, a title that fans have been waiting for since the new generation of consoles came out.
Considered by many, myself included, to be one of the best games of all time and easily the best multiplayer shooter of all time, Call of Duty 4 has a special place in people's hearts, which should mean it will end up selling bucket loads when it launches alongside Infinite Warfare on November 4th.
Of course as Modern Warfare Remastered is only available with the pricey special editions of Infinite Warfare, it will be the latter that sells more copies. But with fan support clearly behind the remastered edition, it wouldn't be surprising if the Infinite Warfare Legacy Edition ended up being the best selling special edition of any Call of Duty title.
This presents what could be an interesting situation. For the first time ever CoD doesn’t just have to compete with EA’s offerings in the FPS genre, but also with itself. Retaining a massive player base for the twelve months until next year's launch is vital for CoD, not just for DLC purposes, but for eSports, and with two CoD games to choose from this year, initial player numbers may be down for IW.
In the world of CoD eSports this creates a significant problem.
Much like traditional sports, people like to see the professionals perform incredible acts, they can only dream of doing, and then potentially trying it out themselves in the game. If these people are primarily playing Modern Warfare Remastered, they may not understand why something was an amazing play in IW, and become disinterested.
While I don’t have any specific data to back it up, mostly because a lot of publicly available data in eSports is pretty rubbish, when people stop playing a game they often lose interest in the pro scene. We haven’t really ever seen a situation quite like this in eSports before, but chances are, if people aren't playing Infinite Warfare every day, a significant chunk of these people won’t be interested in the pro scene.
There is also no way in hell that Activision will have Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered as the primary game for the upcoming second season of the Call of Duty World League, meaning that all their focus will be on Infinite Warfare. However we have already seen that there is a relatively big demand for MW Remastered tournaments and competitions, and that could give third party tournament organisers a big opportunity.
Currently we only know of a few Modern Warfare Remastered tournaments, like the one that friend of Gfinity Alan "Bricey" Brice is putting together, but we know of even fewer Infinite Warfare events. While you can argue that this is always going to be the case, because Activision will be controlling everything for IW, it does show that, at the grassroots level at least, people are interested in MW Remastered competitions already.
Now a savvy tournament organiser would be wise to realise this clear support for MW Remastered events, and the presumed lack of support from Activision, and capitalise on it. Semi regular MW Remastered events here in the UK would undoubtedly do amazingly well, hell I’d certainly try and raise a team for it.
That is ultimately the final point of my thinking. I would compete in Modern Warfare Remastered events. Back in the day, despite only been a youthful teenager, I was pretty nifty at CoD 4 and with a bit of practise I think I could be not awful. Obviously I’d be a long way from winning anything, but as a bit of fun I would be down for it.
Now anyone that follows me on Twitter (@MikeStubbsy, yeah that’s a shameless plug and what) knows I play a ton of Dota 2. In more than three years of playing and covering Dota I have never competed in a single competitive game. In fact my only competitive experience is with Overwatch, where I played two competitive matches after being signed up by friends for a tournament. Usually the idea of actually competing isn’t something that excites me, but the prospect of doing it on Modern Warfare Remastered does.
I think this comes from the fact that back when I played Modern Warfare for countless hours each day, I was both too young to really understand eSports properly, and that eSports was nowhere near as big as it is today. Realistically this means that the remaster is, for a lot of people, the first real opportunity to play CoD 4 competitively and I’m sure many will jump at that chance.
All of this constitutes to the perfect storm for Modern Warfare Remastered to do reasonably well as an eSport. The demand is there, clearly, and with a good set up more and more people could become interested.
This probably won’t be good for the entire CoD scene. If the remaster is a success in the eSports world then the CWL for Infinite Warfare won’t do as well as it should. People will watch CoD 4 events and not IW, tournament organisers will be split between two games, most likely meaning less LAN events for IW and there could be a drop in competitor numbers due to the split player base.
Ultimately, the remaster will cannibalise Infinite Warfare’s pro scene at least a little bit, as we are already seeing organisers who support CoD create tournaments for Modern Warfare and not IW. However that doesn’t mean that Infinite Warfare is screwed, in fact this should be one of the best years for CoD eSports yet. The CWL will presumably be back, and the mistakes from the first year should have been ironed out.
Only time will tell in regards to how much the remaster will impact IW’s pro scene, but anyone thinking that it won't have any effect at all should look at the support that CoD 4 has. It probably won’t be catastrophic, and chances are releasing the remaster will make Activision a ton of cash, but in terms of eSports they could be shooting themselves in the foot slightly, especially if they try to ignore Modern Warfare Remastered as an eSport.
Images courtesy of MLG, Call of Duty and Windows Central
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