The folks behind 'Call of Duty' are trying to create 'the ESPN of eSports'

The publisher behind blockbuster franchises like “Call of Duty,” “World of Warcraft,” and “Destiny,” is digging in on the world of eSports.

Activision announced on Monday afternoon that it’s buying Major League Gaming (MLG), the ailing eSports organisation that was a pre-cursor to much of the modern world of eSports competition.

In buying the company, Activision is angling toward creating something akin to ESPN for the world of eSports competition.

“Our acquisition of Major League Gaming’s business furthers our plans to create the ESPN of eSports,” Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said in the company’s announcement. “MLG’s ability to create premium content and its proven broadcast technology platform — including its live streaming capabilities — strengthens our strategic position in competitive gaming.”

MLG was traditionally known for its work organising and hosting competitive gaming tournaments around classic shooters like “Halo” and “Rainbow Six,” and has taken a beating from companies like Valve and Riot, which host their own tournaments and offer massive prize packages for games they created themselves.

With the purchase of MLG by Activision, there’s an opportunity for Activision to do the same thing with MLG that companies like Riot and Valve have done with games like “League of Legends” and “DOTA 2” — create an internationally recognised standard for competition.

For now, though, MLG will continue business as usual. Here’s the full word on that, according to Activision:

MLG will continue to operate, MLG Pro Circuit and GameBattles platforms, and will continue to work with its partners and other publishers across the industry. is a premium online broadcast network for professional-level esports and the MLG Pro Circuit is the longest-running esports league in North America. GameBattles is the largest online gaming tournament system across consoles, PC and mobile platforms.

The acquisition allegedly cost in the neighbourhood of $46 million, according to documents obtained by eSports Observer, and the money looks like it’s largely going to debts.

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