- Following the conclusion of the 2023 season, two-thirds of Overwatch League teams decided to leave the league, leading Activision Blizzard to abandon the current model.
- Activision Blizzard will pay almost $120 million to the 20 contracted teams as they move toward finding a new competitive framework. Supervision play.
- The closure of the Overwatch League was not a surprise given Activision Blizzard’s overestimated ambitions, financial burdens, and the impact of a gender discrimination scandal that led to sponsors cutting ties and a decline in fan interest.
After the conclusion of the 2023 season, a vote was held by the owners of the 20 hired Supervision teams about the future of the Overwatch League. With two-thirds of teams choosing to leave the Overwatch League, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson has announced that the company plans to move away from the current model in favor of founding a new framework for the competition. Supervision play.
After the vote, Activision Blizzard will pay nearly $120 million to the 20 contracted teams; While the company has announced that it will “transition” away from this competitive esports program, it will “remain focused” on offering an esports program; however, not under the Overwatch League banner. Announced in 2016 and founded in 2017, the Overwatch League sought to revolutionize and legitimize esports by adopting a city-based franchise system similar to conventional sports leagues such as the NFL or NBA. Although it did not exactly replicate traditional sports, the Overwatch League played a pivotal role in the development of esports.
What happened to the Overwatch League?
Why did franchise owners turn their backs on the Overwatch League?
Around the time of the 2023 Overwatch League finals, Activision Blizzard greatly reduced the staff of its esports division, a development that sent warning signs to numerous fans and, no doubt, the franchise owners. In October 2023, Activision Blizzard’s esports leadership team issued a roadmap for owners of the 20 Overwatch League franchises, as well as documents that allowed team owners to cast their vote on the future of the league with a resounding two-thirds majority. , the team’s owners elected to leave the Overwatch League, a decision that has confirmed speculation that Activision Blizzard will pull the plug.
While undoubtedly disappointing for fans of the league, the closure of the Overwatch League probably won’t come as a surprise, as Activision Blizzard’s lofty ambitions have never come to fruition. With early proclamations that each of the 20 teams would build their own stadiums and engage in home-and-home matches in a manner similar to traditional sports, Activision Blizzard appears to have vastly overestimated the degree of interest and marketability it possessed. for electronic sports. Despite this, however, in his announcement, the company spokesperson expressed gratitude to fans and players for helping make the Overwatch League possible.
What went wrong in the Overwatch League?
Financial obligations and a gender discrimination scandal
According to a 2017 ESPN report, the founding teams of the Overwatch League each paid Activision Blizzard $20 million, and 8 expansion slots were then sold for up to $35 million each. This notoriously burdensome franchise fee made it incredibly difficult for team owners and financial backers to earn a return on their significant investments; However, the Jacob Wolfe Report found that the vast majority of teams in the Supervision and obligations Leagues deferred franchise payments during the Covid-19 pandemic and, as a result, Activision Blizzard was owed a total of between $390 and $420 million, a fact that may have contributed to the majority’s decision to disband Overwatch. League.
Although pending registration fees for Overwatch League teams were lifted in mid-2023, Activision Blizzard’s ambitious early claims never came to fruition, a fact made even worse by a gender discrimination scandal that rocked Activision. Blizzard. In 2021, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard alleging that the company has engaged in abuse, discrimination, and retaliation against its employees. Following the announcement of this lawsuit, several major sponsors cut ties with the Overwatch League; Furthermore, the fans’ interest in the league and supervision 2 has plummeted in recent years.
The future of Overwatch esports
Can Overwatch esports become popular again?
While the Overwatch League will soon be officially dead, as Activision Blizzard’s spokesperson noted, the Overwatch esports concept is very much alive and well. Although it has not yet been confirmed by the company, industry expert and investigative reporter Jacob Wolf revealed in early November 2023 that Activision Blizzard is reportedly hoping to run the next version of its Overwatch esports program on collaboration with ESL FACEIT, a leading esports organizer. and broadcaster, and a subsidiary of the Saudi Public Investment Fund, owned by Savvy Games Group. ESL FACEIT is the company behind the broadcast and promotion of Activision Blizzard’s other esports organization, the Call of Duty League.
Given that negotiations between ESL FACEIT and Activision Blizzard reportedly began long before the call for the Overwatch League team ownership vote, it seems there have been serious doubts about the future of the league for a long time. While the Overwatch League has been incredibly influential in legitimizing esports on the global stage, it has proven to be a very costly undertaking for franchise owners, to the point where many of the team owners who also have traditional sports franchises establish an end to their brief experiments with electronic sports. Although Activision Blizzard insists that competitiveness Supervision Esports will return, the Overwatch League is gone forever.
Editor’s note: The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, alleging that the company has engaged in abuse, discrimination and retaliation against its employees. Activision Blizzard has denied the allegations. Full details of the Activision Blizzard lawsuit (content warning: rape, suicide, abuse, harassment) are updated as new information becomes available.
Source: ESPN, The Jacob Wolf Report (1,2)
- Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series
- Blizzard Entertainment
- Blizzard Entertainment
- first person shooter
- Online multiplayer, online cooperative
- Overwatch 2 is the sequel to Blizzard’s team-based PvP shooter released in 2016. Overwatch 2 will completely replace the original entry, closing the previous title in favor of 2. This sequel reduces the size of the teams to five instead of six. Players will choose from one of thirty playable heroes and choose from one of three classes: damage, support, and tanks. PvP remains the central objective; However, Overwatch 2 now has a greater emphasis on cooperative play with the addition of PvE modes: four-player cooperative excursions where players will take on different tasks against AI opponents. Overwatch 2 is free to play and will offer a battle pass option like others in its genre instead of its previous loot box system, allowing players to earn cosmetics and more each season.
- How long to beat:
- 80-100 hours