In a rather unexpected move, it looks like the next season of Call of Duty League won’t be using Sony’s next-gen hardware for competition. Instead of continuing the PlayStation partnership that began in 2015, Call of Duty League 2021 will be played on PC using controller. The League announced the change earlier today, specifically detailing that pro team competition will be moved over to PC for the 2021 season, and players will need to use a League-approved controller of their choice. Mouse and keyboard will not be allowed for any Call of Duty League play.
CDL says that this change will allow players more freedom for which controllers they can use, which were limited previously by PS4 hardware compatibility. Further details regarding League-approved peripherals will be available in the future. The Call of Duty Challengers online series will now use crossplay on console and PC, again restricted to controller only. LAN-based Challengers events will use the same PC and controller-dedicated rules as the Call of Duty League.
For the past 10 years, Call of Duty esports events have always been played on console. Starting with Call of Duty XP in 2011 on the Xbox 360, Microsoft was the platform of choice until 2016’s Black Ops 3 season (beginning at the end of 2015) for Call of Duty World League, which began the PlayStation partnership. Everything since has been played on PS4, including 2020’s inaugural Call of Duty League season which just wrapped up last month with record-breaking numbers.
The move brings up some big questions about the ongoing Sony/PlayStation partnership with Activision and more specifically Call of Duty esports. As the first Call of Duty title on next-gen consoles, it’s a bit strange to see Sony not secure the PlayStation 5 as the primary platform for competition during the Black Ops Cold War season of play. PS5 being the platform of choice for the Call of Duty League 2021 season could have been an enormous marketing boost in the next-gen console’s first year on the market. Though perhaps it’s that very transition period that is creating some reservations for CDL, opting instead to move to PC while PS5 establishes a footprint. Whether or not pro play will return to console next year remains to be seen.
For now, today officially marks the “start” of the Call of Duty League 2021 season, more specifically the time when 2020 contracts end and 2021 season team contracts and extensions can start taking effect. CDL hasn’t yet outlined the upcoming schedule of events (not to mention the game being played has yet to even release), but team rosters are coming together and difficult decisions are being made on who to cut and what shifts to make after this year moves back to 4v4 play following 2020’s 5v5.