YouTube’s Activision

YouTube’s Activision partnership finally leads to Call of Duty

The Call of Duty League (CDL) announced on Tuesday that you’ll soon be able to earn in-game rewards, or “drops,” for watching CDL broadcasts, and the Overwatch League has detailed its plans for drops as well. The announcements follow Activision Blizzard and YouTube’s multiyear deal announced in January that made the Google-owned video platform the exclusive streaming partner for Activision’s esports leagues.

YouTube’s Activision partnership finally leads to Call of Duty

To earn the rewards for watching CDL, you’ll have to watch live matches on the CDL website or the Call of Duty Companion app while logged into your Activision account, according to a CDL blog post. The rewards will include team emblems, sprays, and animated calling cards, and they’ll be cross-platform.

And after teasing drops for Overwatch League on Tuesday, Blizzard has now detailed how they’ll work. Starting on Friday, you’ll be able to earn League Tokens by watching Overwatch League matches on the league’s website, mobile site, and app while logged into your Battle.net account. Those tokens can be redeemed for in-game items on any platform, though if you’re a console player, you’ll have to link your Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, or Nintendo account with your Battle.net account to be able to use the tokens.

Overwatch League offered drops when it was streaming exclusively on Twitch, so it’s not surprising to see similar functionality offered again now that the league is broadcast on YouTube. And Call of Duty and Overwatch won’t actually be the first titles to use YouTube’s drops feature — Epic Games offered free Fortnite cosmetics for watching the Fortnite World Cup on YouTube last July.

Beyond Activision, drops have been a massively successful tool to help fellow esports heavyweight Riot Games build hype for its upcoming tactical shooter Valorant, which is currently in betaRiot initially gave the beta to a select number of people and has been slowly giving out more keys via drops to viewers who tune into Valorant streams. Fans trying to get coveted beta access to Valorant watched an eye-watering 334 million hours of the game in April.

It seems unlikely that Call of Duty League and Overwatch League will get such comparable numbers with their in-game rewards, as Riot was offering access to a much more in-demand unreleased game beta. But the drops could encourage more fans to tune into live matches to get some in-game loot.

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