Blizzard Responds to Rumors of $20 Million Overwatch League Buy-In Fee
Some eSports teams are dropping over the high fee, which appears to be somewhat inflexible.
Rumors have been circulating that Blizzard is asking a whopping $20 million as a buy-in fee to its new competitive Overwatch League. Some prominent eSports groups have eliminated their Overwatch teams over the charge, and Blizzard has responded, without confirming the fee, but trying to set the record straight.
“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," the company told Kotaku. "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.”
There have been allegations as well that native eSports teams are getting hit just as hard as other teams with backgrounds in other sports. Blizzard said it isn't trying to alienate the native eSports community. “We’d like to dispel any rumors that we’re ignoring endemics,” it said. “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.”
Sources have told both ESPN and Kotaku that the fee isn't very flexible, although it can jump higher is larger cities, and perhaps as low as $15 million. By comparison, League of Legends team fees for its League Championship Series run about $1.8 million. Sources also said there is concern about Overwatch's ability to hold an audience, as Overwatch events have had less than stellar draws on platforms such as Twitch.
Unconfirmed reports have New England Patriots' owner Robert Kraft and Miami Dolphins' owner Stephen Ross as two early investors in the League, but others have been skeptical, mainly because of the buy-in price.
Blizzard has been working on the new Overwatch League since it was announced late last year at BlizzCon. The game has skyrocketed in popularity in its first year, boasting more than 30 million registered players, and $1 billion in revenue for publisher Activision Blizzard. The company has promised more details on the League down the road, so we'll just have to keep watching for more official comment.
John Keefer posted a new article, Blizzard Responds to Rumors of $20 Million Overwatch League Buy-In Fee