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Published: December 4, 2022

Written by: Isabella Aslam

  • The army is using new types of media to run recruitment drives
  • CoD viewers on Twitch were supposedly the main target of the adverts
  • The army seems to be investing more in the new mediums

Recently revealed documentation suggests the US army has sponsored several esports organizations and individual streamers in its recruitment attempts.

US Army Sponsored Esports

There is sort of a saying that the army is always short on hands. Many militaries around the world could say they always have a deficit of soldiers and difficulties recruiting new men and women into their ranks. The US army is no exception to that unwritten rule and has had to spend millions of dollars over the decades on advertisement and recruitment. 

Often, this has taken the form of TV adverts, slogans, posters, and collaborations with popular faces of culture. However, it seems the US army is slowly getting with the times and planning to use 21st century technology for its recruitment campaigns and targeted Twitch viewers.

According to Vice’s sources, “internal Army documents” shared by Motherboard said that the army intended to sponsor Call of Duty events. According to the documents, the army’s target audience focused on “females, Black & Hispanics” and people aged 18 to 24. However, due to Activision’s slew of sexual scandals last year, the army decided against sponsoring any CoD events.

According to the documentation, the army spent $3.8 million across several organizations. These include Twitch and the Call of Duty League, but also non-streaming content like WWE and the Paramount Plus Halo television series.

Returning to esports, some notable names that benefited from the US army sponsorship included gaming news publication IGN, which received $600 000. The same amount of money was also received by OpTic Chicago and Texas, who received the funds in stages from late 2021 to September this year. 

Popular individual streamers also benefited from the army’s sponsorship. This included Stonemountain64, a Warzone 2 streamer with 2.32 million subscribers on YouTube, who received $150 000. Other streamers like Swagg and Alex Zedra were also mentioned in the documents. Next to Zedra and Swagg’s names was an asterisk, highlighting that their allocated funds were “based on conversations” with the streamers. 

This Isn’t Something Entirely New

From the perspective of chief army staff, it makes sense to try and engage younger people with modern media. While in the past, army adverts have been running on TV and in newspapers, millennials and zoomers barely consume that type of media. Instead, the Internet and video games are a much better place for the army to engage younger people. 

The army realized this more than a decade ago when it first hosted a Halo 3 Xbox Live tournament. But with the substantial rise in esports popularity in recent years, the army has upped its game in advertising through the media. It even created its own esports organization in 2020, however, it didn’t garner much success, instead coming under scrutiny for various reasons.But considering the few million dollars spent on this advertisement, which is a mere drop in the $773 billion US defense budget for 2022, the US army will continue with its activities in esports and streaming.

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