Call of Duty: Black Ops II's brand new multiplayer has been inspired by the eSports phenomenon, the developer has told MCV.
Both Activision and developer Treyarch took to the stage ahead of Gamescom in Cologne last night to reveal a new Call of Duty multiplayer that is not just targeting the eSports crowd, but wants to introduce millions of new consumers to the world of competitive gaming.
It comes at a crucial point for eSports, which has seen a resurgence in recent years with online and offline competitive tournaments growing in prominence.
eSports organisers Major League Gaming revealed this summer that some 750,000 competitive matche are played every month, with over eight million people tuning in to watch live streamed matches. The biggest eSports players are now able to live of their competitive winnings, while corporate sponsorship is also on the rise.
The growth of eSports was noticeable at E3 this year, with the likes of Ubisoft using competitive gaming during its press conference. Meanwhile, pro-gaming headsets – including sets from Turtle Beach which develops the official Call of Duty headsets – are growing in sales year-over-year.
In a bid to target this eSports market, Treyarch revealed a new online ranking system that will effectively work as a league, with players able to climb up or down into different divisions. That means consumers of all skill levels will be able to compete with others of a similar ability.
But most impressive was CODCast. A mode where players can create their own Call of Duty multiplayer broadcast.
Furthermore, matches can be live streamed via new technology developed in-house by Treyarch, via a PC or a tablet.
"We have been crafting the very best multiplayer experience we have ever made," boasts Treyarch's game designer director David Vonderhaar.
"We have been inspired by the world of eSports and have created tools to bring eSports to the masses. We have taken the competitive spirit of Call of Duty and we are elevating it to a spectator sport."
Although some doubts remain over whether a game like Call of Duty can truly capitalise on the eSports phenomenon. One leading journalist told MCV: "I was truly impressed with what I saw of Black Ops II's multiplayer. However, I have to wonder if this experience is the sort of thing gamers want to watch. It can be pretty hard to follow."
Treyarch have certainly done its utmost to make it easier to follow. Potential 'CODcasters' can overlay the latest scores in real time, while an in-game map can also be pulled up so that commentators can switch into the heat of the action. That's on-top of live action commentary.
It's effectively a more advanced system to the one already used in Call of Duty Elite, which is likely to also play a big role in Activision's bid to grow in the lucrative eSports arena.