Foto: Blizzard, Metro
I'm concerned about Blizzards direction and believe that Overwatch will pay a high price for not allowing the game to grow along with it's grassroots, esports legend Emil "HeatoN" Christensen writes.
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Overwatch is the buzzword of gaming right now.
One and a half year after the release of the game its professional league started, under the conduct of its developer Blizzard, last week: Overwatch League.
Its release was followed by about half a million viewers during the first day on Twitch.
Right now, the game is spreading its wings in hopes of flying high and making it in the esports industry.
But I think it’s completely wrong by Blizzard to single-handedly seize control over the game’s process of professionalization by declaring a monopoly – meaning their league will be the only one allowed.
Let me explain.
Within the Counter strike-scene the professional leagues and ladders – and teams – have developed and competed freely under the surveillance of game-developer Valve for soon-to-be 20 years. The established teams have been able to build a committed fanbase that has strong relations to the organisation, its brand and players.
The teams and stars have after many years of hard work in claiming the top become culture bearers and ambassadors of esports. They have developed a brand that’s impossible to buy for money.
But buying for money is precisely the way that Blizzard has choosen with Overwatch.
Twelve resourceful organisation have been forced to acquire their teams for an astounding 20 million dollars respectively in order to claim a seat in the newly started league.
Even worse is – they aren’t even allowed to keep their names.
Cloud9 is now named London Spitfire.
OpTic Gaming became Houston Outlaws.
And the football-team Arsenals owner, Stan Kronke, received Los Angeles Gladiators.
Blizzard must believe their made up team names to be exquisite?
Personally, I deem it really dorky and think it stinks of plastic, american money. But it’s also a question for the future success of esport.
I think that the monopoly is striving in the opposite direction of the inclusiveness that our sport otherwise breeds. To me a big charm with counter-strike has been that there has never been any concern about where you are from.
Everyone, regardless of background, who has been able to put in the hours of training have been able to start his or her own team with like minded players, climb in the ladders and approaching the goal of becoming the top team of Sweden, Europe – and even the world.
I’m concerned about Blizzards direction and believe that Overwatch will pay a high price for not allowing the game to grow along with its grassroots.
The high-flying plans can come to end in a fatal crash landing.
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