Activision Blizzard has revealed that Overwatch League teams will vote to decide the fate of the league at the end of this season, while lay-offs signal a dark future for the company’s esports plans.
Revealed in its second quarter 2023 financial results, Activision Blizzard announced it’s offering Overwatch League teams like the San Francisco Shock and London Spitfire a $6 million payout if they opt not to continue. “As previously disclosed, our collaborative arrangements for our professional esports leagues continue to face headwinds,” the report said.
“Following the conclusion of the current Overwatch League season, the teams will vote on an updated operating agreement. If the teams do not vote to continue under an updated operating agreement, a termination fee of $6 million will be payable to each participating team entity (total fee of approximately $114 million).”
Activision Blizzard also noted the franchise-based esports model brings in hardly any cash. “Total revenues from the Overwatch League comprise less than 1% of our consolidated net revenues.” it said.
The esports business is considered to have cooled off in recent years, with one Valorant team owner calling it “one of the worst things you can get into” in June. This vote to decide the fate of the Overwatch League will therefore perhaps be seen as an opportunity to get out by many.
Its teams voting not to continue won’t necessarily mean the end of Overwatch esports according to league commissioner Sean Miller. Speaking to The Verge, Miller said Overwatch “remains committed to a competitive ecosystem in 2024 and beyond” and the company is currently “building toward a revitalized global scene that prioritizes players and fans”.
It’s unclear exactly what that means, of course, and perhaps even Miller won’t know until the teams cast their vote, but fans of Overwatch esports will seemingly have at least something to look forward to in the future.
This comes despite significant lay-offs within Activision Blizzard’s esports department. As The Verge reported, around 50 employees lost their jobs in what was described by one as a “significant gutting of Activision Blizzard esports”.
In our 8/10 review of the game IGN said: “Overwatch 2’s switch to a 5v5 format breathes new life into what was once the sharpest shooter around. It just hasn’t quite recaptured all of that glory – yet.”
Ryan Dinsdale is an IGN freelance reporter. He’ll talk about The Witcher all day.