Blizzard focuses MLG on Overwatch as e-sports teams flee the game

Remember back when Blizzard bought Major League Gaming? This week, the studio announced it’s putting MLG to use as the conduit for its Overwatch e-sports ambitions.

“The new division, which will retain the MLG name, will build on Blizzard’s nearly 20-year history as a leader in esports and leverage MLG’s extensive experience with live events and content distribution,” says the studio. “It will also operate the MLG-branded media network, which will broadcast both Blizzard and Activision esports content as well as other premium gaming programming.”

That’s good timing, since as Kotaku reported, over the last week no less than four pro e-sports organizations have cut loose their Overwatch teams.

The current season of Overwatch competitive play ends this month; Blizzard’s Jeff Kaplan has said season five will begin around June 1st and that the video reel utility and spectator mode are still on the way. “Expect more details early this summer,” he wrote.

Source: Blizzard, Kotaku
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21 Comments on "Blizzard focuses MLG on Overwatch as e-sports teams flee the game"

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Danny Smith

Still thirsty for that exports money I see.

Though I wonder if the extreme random nature of Moba style abilities and ultimates puts off pro gamers who crave level playing fields and play games like street fighter and halo on the blandest maps possible and limit weapons tout down on none skill based influences.
I love Overwatch but it seems like a nightmare for exports.

PurpleCopper
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PurpleCopper

Man, Blizzard is REALLY trying to push that e-sports scene for Overwatch and HOTS.

I really don’t think Overwatch or HOTS is gonna be a resounding success in the e-sports scene.

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Greaterdivinity

will build on Blizzard’s nearly 20-year* history as a leader in esports

*Please ignore the disaster that was the Starcraft 2 esports scene.

One day I’ll have to look into the OW esports scene. I’ve no interest as a viewer (quickly grew tired of the game), but I’m quite curious to see if it’s actually organically growing (which is good!) or if it’s more of a top down approach from Blizzard trying to force it (which is bad : ( ). It seems to have been a bit of both from my ultra-casual observations.

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Alex Js.

Meh. Never cared much about watching any Overwatch tournaments (and judging by the fact that e-sports teams are leaving this game – same is true for many other people). Would much rather see more focus on more casual, RELAXED gameplay, similar to TF2 where I could hop into my favorite 32-player server and waste 3-4 hours/day (every day, for first 2 years after the game was released) on an extremely relaxing gameplay where no one ever cared which class I chose and where I never cared about individual performance of teammates…

Compared to this, Overwatch is still too stressful for me to enjoy it (simply because of such small team sizes and the HUGE impact even one “bad” player can have on whole team), even in “Casual” mode, so I have completely abandoned playing it, which in turn also made me lose all interest in watching others playing it. Too bad Blizzard is such an extremely narrow-minded company, they could’ve changed this and made it as fun as TF2 for larger audience (which could also increase people’s interest in watching this game’s tournaments)…

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Scratches

Lol. So, Dot Esports (linked to in the Kotaku report) is reporting that team slots for this Overwatch League are being valued at/sold for between $6-15m. That they expect any esports team to cough up that much money, for what has so far shown to be a hugely unpopular spectator viewing experience, is just outright laughable.

For Blizzard’s sake, I would rather they just sat on MLG-whatever, just like they did when they bought IGN’s IPL ~5 years ago… But I guess they can’t do that when Bobby Kotick himself is apparently making the push…

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Melissa McDonald

The new version of QUAKE will probably blow Overwatch away, anyway. Overwatch is like the kiddie-cartoon version of Quake.

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Bullet Teeth

Anime Fortress 2.

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BDJ

Just like the last version of Quake was so great. Oh wait! Let the dinosaur die please.

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Oleg Chebeneev

It has little resemblance to Quake. More like Team Fortress 2 clone

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Melissa McDonald

I respectfully disagree. Quake and OW are both fast-paced, running and jumping and shooting and clicking twitch games with no real physics and a lot of fireworks and particle effects. Quake came a LONG time before OW and I see the lineage plain as day.

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Oleg Chebeneev

Almost all shooters are “fast-paced, running and jumping and shooting and clicking twitch games with no real physics and a lot of fireworks and particle effects”.

Quake is very different game from Overwatch. You dont have abilities. It isnt narrowed to 5v5 fights. You change weapons by looting them. Core gameplay is completely different. While if we compare Overwatch to Team Fortress 2, they are pretty much the same.

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Sray

I think the Blizzard approach to game design is anathema to successful esports. Blizzard takes an “quick and easy to learn, long to master, but everyone can do it” approach, and the most popular esports are difficult and slow to learn, and not everyone can do it. That difficulty seems to be the appeal of esports, and probably why the biggest esports games took a few years to reach widespread popularity; and Blizzard just doesn’t do the slow burn: they don’t spend 80 million dollars on a game for it to be popular in three years. It’s not bad for business, but clearly esports needs a long term commitment to mass popularity, rather than the instant hits Blizzard is used to.

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Nordavind

The pros/good players in Paladins has this sentiment of OW too. It takes little skill to kill a players, especially with the ultimate ability. According to them, any OW newbie can kill anyone with the press on ONE button.

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Sray

It seems to me that the appeal of any type of professional sport, virtual or athletic, is that not everyone can do that. It’s not just a matter of time commitment either: our personal physical and/or mental limitations prevent the majority of us from ever being able to perform at those top levels. So when your game is built so that anyone with some time and determination can perform at the very highest levels, you might very well have a fun game to play; but it’s not going to have any serious appeal as a high level competition when any spectator can truthfully say “I can do that.”

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Armsbend

Having big teams drop out is a plus not a minus in my book. Less funded teams seem like underdogs imo. Everyone likes an underdog.

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Scratches

Everyone except Blizzard, it seems. Good luck getting those less-funded underdogs into a league that’s asking for a potentially $15m buy-in…

https://dotesports.com/overwatch/blizzard-wants-lots-of-money-for-overwatch-league-5029

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Captain Crash

I don’t see the appeal of Overwatch esports really, it’s mostly just shallow team comp planning then stacking ults.

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Schmidt.Capela

The linked Kotaku article has been updated, so make that five teams dropping Overwatch in a single week.

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Oleg Chebeneev

Maybe its just me, but Overwatch pro matches are nowhere as interesting to watch as Starcraft 2 or League of LEgends.

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Armsbend

I hate League matches as they last way too long. When they go 5 matches for 2 out of 3 it is unbearable to me personally. I enjoy watching HotS matches though. Just the right amount of time.

Overwatch…meh. Better than watching people think about Hearthstone cards though.

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Oleg Chebeneev

Other then first 5 minutes of creep farming, pro matches in LoL are always action packed and there is always something going on if you know the game. LoL also has amazing commentators. HoTs is way below LoL in skill cap department so you can rarely appreciate sick plays – the reason I never watch it.

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