U.S. Army Intended to Pay Call of Duty Streamers to Attract Younger Audiences

Earlier this week, Motherboard revealed internal US army documents that give us an insight into why the army wanted to attract a younger audience through Twitch, and how they were ready to invest large amounts of money in order to do so.

The question is why the U.S. military is so keen on putting money into the video game industry and what they could possibly gain from it.

The United States military has, over the course of the last few years, turned its attention to video games in an effort to broaden its appeal to younger audiences in order to boost its overall recruitment numbers. Recently released internal documents also reveal that the army had planned to pay a number of groups and Call of Duty streamers to boost its popularity among young people, especially women, black and Hispanic people.

Documents obtained by VICE reveal that beginning in 2021, the Army launched a multi-year, multi-million-dollar marketing effort ($3,000,000) centered around Call of Duty, involving sponsorship for professional esports teams and streamers as well as advertising content related to the game on YouTube and Twitch. About a third of that sum ($750,000) was contributed in direct support of the Call of Duty League, an esports organization owned and operated by Activision Blizzard.

However, the documents show an e-mail where sponsorships for Call of Duty and Warzone 2 were discontinued after multiple lawsuits connected to sexual harassment at Activision Blizzard surfaced. This was due to the fact that in 2021, after a two-year investigation, California filed a lawsuit against the publisher, alleging widespread discrimination against women. The mail reads:

At this time, we intend to ‘pause all activities’ immediately with Activision due to serious allegations of sexual harassment at their workplace, and also recommended that the Marketing Engagement Brigade not send their esports team to the tournament,”

Documents also show the army intended to spend $675,000 on a sponsorship with the WWE, which to some extent is understandable to some extent. More than $1 million was supposed to be spent on the gaming media network IGN, while another $500,000 was supposed to have been spent on the G4 TV. We don’t know what direction the army’s collaboration with these groups was supposed to take, but the fact that it was even planned is puzzling. The army’s resource allocation is shown down below:

Image: Motherboard

According to the documents, the US Army intended to spend $1 million supporting the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Showdown on Twitch. Sponsorship arrangements were planned for Call of Duty streamers Stonemountain64 ($150,000 USD), Zagg ($75,000 USD), and Alex Zedra ($50,000 USD), the artist behind Mara in Modern Warfare 2019.

While many sponsorships did not happen, the documents demonstrated how the army shifted its emphasis to more effectively advertise and support events in areas where it knew it might attract young people. In response to the earlier question, this is why the Army invested so much money: they saw firsthand how successful this approach might be. They aimed their marketing efforts at young people where they spend the most time.


Farhan Ali

Farhan is a passionate writer with an undying love for games, PC hardware, and technology. With nearly 5 years of experience in blogging and over 14 years of experience in gaming, this is what he loves and does best.