Analyst Michael Pachter’s Overwatch League skepticism and other business tidbits

Everyone’s favorite gaming industry analyst Michael Pachter announced that his firm Wedbush is “skeptical that the Overwatch League will achieve much success,” noting that Blizzard’s multiplayer online shooter is “difficult to watch,” too expensive to buy, and unapproachable compared to other games. It gets worse: He also argues that “investors are overly optimistic” given the huge expense for running teams in a league like this one, the fact that Amazon got to Twitch first, and the likelihood that Blizzard will eventually collide with antitrust law (and the lack of relevant international law).

“The major sports leagues in the US are allowed to ‘collude’ with one another to some extent in order to limit player salaries; it is not clear that OWL will be subject to such an exemption, suggesting to us that a determined owner with a large pocketbook may be able to capture the world’s best players by guaranteeing large salaries.”

Indeed, it looks as if there’s already a trademark dispute underway; Major League Baseball is apparently contesting Overwatch League’s logo, which looks an awful lot like MLB’s.

Check out a few more online gaming business topics we’ve rounded up down below!

Dota 2 players are raising eyebrows at a new round of Immortal Treasure lootbox items, some of which are trading for over $60 apiece on the market, though some traders are counseling patience. (Thanks, Piero!)

Finally, today Blizzard will begin selling StarCraft II “war chests” stuffed with cosmetic loot. Proceeds go in part to the BlizzCon 2017 prize pool.

“Each War Chest begins with a single unit skin and an exclusive portrait. Additional skins are divided into three phases, and can be unlocked by playing Multiplayer or Co-op matches during or after the corresponding phase, until by the end of the challenge you have a full set. Your initial purchase also grants awesome rewards in other Blizzard titles.”

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21 Comments on "Analyst Michael Pachter’s Overwatch League skepticism and other business tidbits"

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CapnLan

I can understand the difficult to watch part for sure. I’ve tried watching the game many times on Twitch (as I’ve become a horrible Twitch fiend) and have no idea what I’m watching. I’ve never played the game before so that changes my perspective quite a bit.

I see flashy lights and kill messages and that’s about it. I have no idea who is shooting at who or how that person that I didn’t even see on the screen died and suddenly the match is over with people yelling at each other. It all just kind of blends together into an unwatchable mess. I’ve almost entirely dropped it in favor of watching PUBG. That game on the other hand is incredibly easy to watch and understand even though I’ve never played it before.

YMMV of course. It’s a popular game on Twitch after all. I just happen to personally agree with the “difficult to watch” portion of that article.

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BDJ

I love OW as a game. I played it for hundreds of hours. Im playing FFXIV and SWL now so all I do is the events to get the skins now, but its still fun.

I watch the LCS and tournaments in league and I watch the invitational in Dota 2. I watch CSGO. I pretty much watch every major esports event I can.

OW is hard to watch , at least for me, for different reasons than you would think. There is zero “meta” other than character selection. Other than that , its stay back, build up ults, maybe get a pick, then go balls deep popping everything you have. Rinse and repeat the process every minute.

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borghive

Am I just too old, because the entire concept of watching another person play a video game just flat out boring. I really can’t wrap my head around twitch or e-sports.

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Connor

Nope, you just have opinions and tastes. Some people like watching poker, others don’t. Some like watching baseball, others prefer to play it, others don’t have any interest.

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Sally Bowls

Probably. There is certainly a correlation with age.

NEWZOO_Popularity_of_Esports_and_Sports_by_Age.png
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BDJ

Eh its not age, but its interest. I have friends who watch zero sports. My little bro who is 23 won’t watch any sport… other than eSports.

Some people don’t like watching comedies or horror movies too. Its all what you are interested in.

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Sally Bowls

Re ““The major sports leagues in the US are allowed to ‘collude’ with one another to some extent in order to limit player salaries;”? Really? Since a 1922 Supreme Court ruling, Major League baseball is uniquely exempt from anti-trust restrictions/law. IANAL, but I do not know of anything similar for any other league, or at least that would not apply to OW leagues.

I am not sure about the lawmakers comments. Regulators and judges would be involved, but I just don’t see how gaming has the clout or respect to get lawmakers involved.

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Dobablo

Google says:
What sports have a salary cap?
In North American leagues
National Football League.
National Hockey League.
National Basketball Association (soft cap + luxury tax)
Major League Baseball (luxury tax)
Major League Soccer.
Canadian Football League.

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Sally Bowls

But is there any claim that said sports, other than MLB, have any sort of anti-trust protection like the author implies. ““The major sports leagues in the US are allowed to ‘collude’ with one another to some extent in order to limit player salaries; it is not clear that OWL will be subject to such an exemption” IANAL, but don’t see why the eSports would not have access to it. I don’t know of anything – sometimes different than does not exist – of any “exemptions”to the anti-trust laws because they are non-MLB sports.

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BDJ

Luxury Tax isn’t a salary cap. There is nothing stopping a team like the Yankees or Red Sox from paying a guy a 500 million dollar contract except the fact that they can’t afford it. There is NOTHING in baseball that says you have 99 million dollars max to pay for a team like their is in the NBA. The Yankees and Red Sox both bought their last 3-4 championships. Same with the Marlins when they won or the Diamondbacks when they did.

Even in the NBA, there is a limit. In the NBA this past season the “soft cap” was like 94 mil and the luxury tax “hard cap” was 113 mil. The Cavs couldn’t have a payroll of 400m a year before luxury tax.

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Sally Bowls

MLB does not count. Since 1922, they are exempt from anti-trust laws.

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Rumm

“difficult to watch,” too expensive to buy, and unapproachable compared to other games.”

This guy is either or a moron, or has never actually seen, played, or heard about Overwatch. The barrier to entry is borderline non-existent at $30-40, there’s multiple brackets of play for different skills levels, and pretty much everyone that I know has the game. Its been one of the top 5 games on Twitch front page since the game launched.

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BalsBigBrother

Yes the price of Overwatch isn’t significant in terms of a price for a game. If you are comparing it against other esport league successes as he does, League of Legend – F2P, Dota 2- F2P and Counter Strike: Global Offensive – over half the price of Overwatch then I can kind of see his point but I still think he is overstating the impact of that.

Really I think his best point is the viewing part and one that I do agree with him.

While the game is an absolute blast to play I find it entirely boring to spectate. When you are in game in all feels frantic and adrenaline fueled but non of that translates very well when you spectating, ultimately for me its just too boring for me to want to waste my time viewing no matter how skilled the players are.

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yoh_sl

Yeah he’s wrong about half of it, but OW is actually hard to watch.
Mainly because it has a very high pace, everything flies at a mile a minute, so it becomes very difficult for the casual view to really grasp what is going on. Even players who know how the game is played can have a difficult time grasping what is going on.

The game is really built for gamers, not spectators. Which is fine, but unless it is eminently viewable, then that will limit just how much of an esport it can really be.
And I think that is the single biggest hurdle facing OW esports.

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Mailvaltar

It’s actually the other way around for me.

I really like watching Overwatch if the commentators are doing a good job.

I stopped playing myself though. While it’s an awesome game, it makes me too angry. I just can’t play games like this casually. I play to win, and when stupid teammates or stupid mistakes on my part result in a loss I get too frustrated.

Watching others play it is much more fun and relaxing for me.

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BalsBigBrother

I guess it is a matter of perspective and preference. When I play OW I am only playing casually so whether I win or lose in not important to me. The important bit for me is that I have fun in the process and that is possible win, lose or draw. /shrugs

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Greaterdivinity

Damnit, why do you have to make me aware that Michael “Fish Gut Braider” Pachter and I share an opinion on any topic? I hate when that happens.

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Kherova

Anyone seriously interested in esports should also listen to the Rallypoint podcast. Being sceptical about the Overwatch league is justified. They really need to work hard to make it watchable. I rather watch Hearthstone.

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Armsbend

Anti Trust? Lawmakers have to hire people to work their phones much less understand anything involving technology. eSports will never see anything approaching anti trust when they can attack Google, Amazon and Facebook for their ideological agendas.

See: repealing Net Neutrality.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

It just takes one unhappy dude to file an anti-trust complaint that goes a distance through the US court system for there to be applicable case law, which there may already be. While I entirely agree that lawmakers know jack all about technology and are just so bought off on net-neutrality, it is likely the judiciary that will be applying current anti-trust law to eSports and only later, when Congress doesn’t like the results, that there’ll be “clarification” of existing law.

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