In a statement to Yahoo Esports, Overwatch developers Blizzard Entertainment have responded to the ongoing allegation, rumours, and outcries regarding their “expensive” Overwatch League buy-in slots which have been rumoured to be worth up to $20 million.
Over the past few weeks, a number of competitive gaming organizations have parted ways with their Overwatch teams citing uncertainty in the direction and cost of Overwatch biggest league. Initial reports indicated that buy-in sports were being targeted at non-endemic larger sporting franchises, a cost too great for organisations in a growing, yet infant, industry. The final report, before Blizzard’s statement, was from ESPN where an anonymous source revealed the staggering amount of $20 million for a slot in the Overwatch League which was an initial value increasing in larger markets such as New York and Los Angeles. Furthermore, teams who pay the ludicrous amount “are not guaranteed revenue sharing until after 2021 and only if Blizzard meet certain criteria that sources did not reveal to EPSN.”
Misfits, winners of ELEAGUE (Yahoo Esports)
Without further ado, here’s what Blizzard had to say:
“We appreciate that there’s a lot of enthusiasm about the Overwatch League, which has translated into months of speculation–including reports circulating unverified and wildly ranging rumors from anonymous sources about purported deal terms, team pricing, and other details. We understand the interest in the rumors, and we feel it’s important to clarify some things for our community.
“First, we want to be clear that our ultimate goal is to create an exciting Overwatch esports ecosystem, the pinnacle of which will be the Overwatch League, that’s accessible to a wide audience, sustainable, and rewarding for everyone involved. We’re doing our best to take great care with building this ecosystem, and as with much of what we do, we don’t release information until we’re at a place where it makes sense to do so.
“Second, we’d like to dispel any rumors that we’re ignoring endemics. Anyone who knows Blizzard understands how deeply we care about the communities around our games. The league is built upon the best elements of endemic esports programs and traditional sports, and we’re in active discussions with many teams and owners from both worlds because it will take a village to stand up a league with such an unprecedented structure. Those conversations have been going well and there’s a lot of excitement around our ambitious plans.
“Finally, it’s important to think twice about statements from unnamed sources, who may try to leverage the media to deliberately spread misinformation as bargaining tactics or for other competitive reasons. We look forward to officially sharing real details about the league and the ecosystem as a whole as we continue the development process. In the meantime we are staying focused on our goal of creating an awesome Overwatch esports experience for players, partners, and fans, and we want to thank everyone for their continued support.”
TL;DR: The rumours aren’t true, we love the little guys, we just want everyone to have fun.
Blizzard did not deny or speak about the buy-in costs, only ask the public to ignore the rumours. If you wish to believe that teams are paying upwards of $20 million for a spot, then you may not be far off as similar ventures in conventional sports can fetch much more than $20 million and it “unclear” whether this remains Blizzard’s intention.
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Last Updated: May 12, 2017