Overwatch has so many things going for it that it cannot be anything but a successful esport. Yes, there are problems with the game currently, but nothing that can’t be solved. And they will be solved. Blizzard has put a lot of resources behind the game to ensure that it will receive everything it needs to succeed. The Overwatch League is on the horizon and soon we will have a long lasting and stable esport.
MonteCristo and Doa, two of the best casters in esports in general, left their cushy jobs in South Korea working for OGN to move back to the States to gamble on Overwatch. Which, to me, shows that it is far less of a risk than people have been making it out to be. Reddit, and others, have been constantly criticizing Blizzard over the way that they have been handling the OWL. While some of that criticism is warranted, most of it isn’t.
The biggest complaint has been the lack of communication, and that is completely warranted. Blizzard has been completely uncommunicative which is typical of them and their handling of esports. On the other hand, the other criticisms aren’t warranted. Things such as a replay system, an API, and the spectator client are things that shouldn’t be used to determine whether the game will succeed. Instead, we need to look at the numbers.
The things people are complaining about now don’t matter
Things like the spectator client will help determine how popular Overwatch is as an esport. It shouldn’t be overlooked and should absolutely be complained about until something is done about it. But, we know from Monte and Doa that Blizzard is working on it. That’s why Monte and Doa are working for them in the first place. As casters, they know what needs to be worked on and some of the best changes to implement. Therefore, when looking at whether Overwatch will be successful we cannot judge its spectator client and observers as it is now. Instead, we will have to wait until the proper client gets released.
The replay system is on its way. But I don’t understand what the big problem is here, just use a program similar to OBS to record your own gameplay. Yes, I understand that sometimes you forget to record it and that a replay system is handy, but the replay system will not make or break this game.
The API has been announced and is on its way. That’s not something to worry about, but it should come as soon as possible. That would make it easier to compare how players perform in the two situations: Pre and post-franchise. See if the support that teams would be able to bring to their players would make a difference. The API is most important for the coaches to know what their players need to work on and how to most improve. It helps everyone’s understanding of the game.
Blizzard is working on these things. All of them. This shows that they hear us and are working on making things work. They have a vision and are executing that vision.
That vision is one of esports dominance and Overwatch is a piece of that puzzle.
It was recently announced that Ninjas in Pyjamas dropped their Overwatch team (who are still competing as Rest in Pyjamas or RiP). This, after Cyclowns disbanding and tons of other teams leaving a month ago, has convinced the general public that Overwatch as an esport will fail. Frankly, these losses are to be expected. Not every team will be able to get a franchise. If they don’t have the capital themselves and aren’t willing to work with investors then the only option is to drop your team. Why operate a team that you know isn’t going to be able to compete in the coming league?
It isn’t all gloom and doom
On the other hand, you have teams like Cloud9 who are operating like business as usual. About a month and a half ago they did another round of investing and got more capital. Other teams, such as Laser Kittenz, are wheeling and dealing (and effectively, pretty sure Alicus could convince me to give my future firstborn) to raise capital and make themselves more attractive to investors.
Without it officially being announced, the combine for the League has already started. Overwatch Contenders is a testing field and the combine at the same time. Even if there is an official combine later on, this stretch of games could determine whether a team will get a franchise spot or not. If a team like Lazer Kittenz is able to compete and place high (which it looks like they are going to) then they could attract investors who would buy the OWL spot for them. And the viewership for the games isn’t that bad at all.
Sure, they are getting 1/5th of the views that a CS:GO major gets. This isn’t surprising though. Counter-Strike is one of the most known esports. It has continually been played since the first iteration of Counter-Strike was released in 2000.
It’s doing well for its age
Overwatch is a year old. Take that in for a second. It is only a year old. And I get why people are complaining about the scene. A couple months after release Overwatch had its first triple digit and major LAN in the ESL Atlantic Showdown as well as weekly tournaments sponsored by GosuGamers and bigger monthly tournaments sponsored by Alienware. These tournaments are no longer being planned. There are no LANs on the horizon (beyond Apex) and Overwatch Contenders is the only online tournament right now.
Why should Overwatch get as many views as CS:GO? There is literally no reason. You can’t compare CS to one-year-old Overwatch. Although it is probably better to compare one-year-old League of Legends to one-year-old Overwatch. They look similar. But League is just now getting around to franchising their teams and bringing stability to their teams. The Overwatch League is looking to build a legacy and that takes time.
Give it time
Building a legacy takes more than time. It takes resources, but that isn’t an issue. Activision Blizzard is pouring tons of resources into the Overwatch League.
Activision Blizzard, the parent company of Blizzard Entertainment, is working to become a dominant, if the not the dominant, player in the esports scene. The acquisition of Major League Gaming (MLG) shows how dedicated the company is to developing the esports scene; no company casually spends $46 million dollars, not even Activision Blizzard. The company that owns Blizzard Entertainment is looking to dominate esports. Therefore, Blizzard Entertainment is looking at dominating esports. Which means that its latest Intellectual Property (IP) is focussed on esports. The company is dedicated to the success of Overwatch. Case and point: the Overwatch League.
Activision Blizzard is looking at having more than just a successful esport. They are looking to bring it into the mainstream and convincing the world once and for all that esports are something that is worth our time. And not just gamers time. Everyone’s time. Blizzard is working on bringing traditional sports owners together with endemic owners. Bringing these two worlds together will take hard work and patience. I am willing to wait for the OWL to come to fruition.
I believe in the Overwatch League. Do you?