Overwatch League Fees Scare Off Potential Competitors
Blizzard’s upcoming Overwatch League has drawn a ton of criticism of late for its exorbitant buy-in fee. Teams are reportedly required to pony up $20 million just to buy a spot in the league, which has effectively chased off numerous potential competitors. Esports journalist Richard Lewis reported on Monday that numerous major sporting brands are reticent to commit to the Overwatch League given the crazy financial demands and uncertain dividends.
Sponsors are also unsure about how to approach the Overwatch League. The report detailed a specific sponsor that was reluctant to get in on the OWL because of the murky potential financial benefits.
Blizzard’s endeavor got some good news last week when it was reported that Robert Kraft and Fred Wilpon, who own the New England Patriots and New York Mets, respectively, had each paid to secure a spot in the league. That brought some legitimacy to the OWL, but there are still many questioning whether it’s a good idea to invest.
Endemic eSports teams have been effectively chased away from participating in the league thanks to the huge costs required just to enter. Getting the massive buy-ins from the Patriots and Mets is a start for Blizzard, but there is still work to be done. One aspect that is causing many to be reluctant to join the league is the fact that Blizzard has been poor in communicating about its plans for the league.
The report says that several big-name sporting organizations are unwilling to commit $20 million for a franchise slot until Blizzard will be able to clarify what the potential return on investment would be.
Activision says that Blizzard plans to run the OWL similar to the way they ran a Call of Duty series. They are reportedly still in the early stages of development, which means a launch date could still be at least six months after the Overwatch League goes live. Additionally, brands that have procured Overwatch territories are not guaranteed the same territory for a Call of Duty team. So, just because Kraft owns an Overwatch team in Boston doesn’t mean his Call of Duty team would also be in Boston.
Sponsor Driven Away by Uncertainty
A sponsor that had already done a number of deals within the eSports realm was recently driven away from the OWL because the sponsorship would continue to increase over a series of meetings. The sponsor reportedly said that they could have purchased an NFL team with the exorbitant amount of money Blizzard was seeking in a deal. Blizzard reportedly responded that they believe the Overwatch League will be even bigger than the NFL. That is what ultimately drove the sponsor to exit.
Blizzard said earlier this year that the OWL will begin sometime in 2017, though that timeline is currently dubious. All of these issues are continuing to mount, which seems to make 2017 an unrealistic proposition at this point. The first full season of Overwatch Contenders is set to begin in August. We are still awaiting an announcement for when the main event will kick off.
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