Pro esports players criticize Blizzard for sticking gamers with the whole WoW Arena World Champs prize pool

    
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Smart-ish.

World of Warcraft players gearing up for the Arena World Championships and the Mythic Dungeon Invitational will have a bigger prize pool than expected, with $660,000 divided between the two events. That’s thanks entirely to other players, who as you’ll recall funded the pot by purchasing a couple of toys in the WoW store, an incident that caused its own uproar at the time (and was subsequently eclipsed a few weeks later by, well, this).

What it is not thanks to, apparently, is Blizzard itself, which has quietly withdrawn its implied contribution to the events. Originally, the studio seemed to have implied that it would front $500,000, guaranteeing that minimum sum, but after the sales surpassed that minimum, Blizzard stepped back from its presumed half-mil deposit, meaning that WoW players are covering the entire pool, and it’s significantly smaller than pro players expected.

Here was the original claim from March: “For a limited time, every purchase of the Transmorpher Beacon or Lion’s Pride and Horde’s Might Fireworks, 25% of the proceeds will contribute toward the year’s finals LAN event prize pool for the Arena World Championship (AWC) and the Mythic Dungeon International (MDI) with a guaranteed minimum prize pool of $500,000 USD ($250,000 USD for each event.) Your support will help take the WoW esports prize pool to the next level.” An earlier statement made by Blizzard on January 17th noted that “[a] portion of the sale of these toys will contribute to the prize pools for both WoW esports programs.” Both led pro players and gamers to believe toy-buyers were “contributing” to Blizzard’s existing pool, not covering the whole thing.

Reports of this are coming in from several quarters, including professional esports players who asked Blizzard about the low prize pool and were told the truth in return.

World of Warcraft YouTuber Bellular walked through this situation step by step, laying out Blizzard’s misleading assurances and its ultimate actions against the backdrop of the rest of the pro esports industry standards:

Regardless of whether you think Blizzard’s move here was underhanded or there was plenty of wiggle room in its original announcement, those folks who were mad about being asked to pay part of the prize pool before are surely even madder knowing they’re paying for it all. And of course, the pro players who thought they’d be making a lot more money than they actually are a bit upset too.

Source: YouTube, Twitter, #2. Updated post-publication for clarity and with the Blizzard quote.

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Armsman

Yeah sorry, while I’m not a Blizzard fan, the statement they made was pretty clear:

“A portion of the sale of these toys will contribute to the prize pools for both WoW esports programs.”

meaning yes, part of what you paid will be put into the pot. If Blizzard ‘guarenteed’ $500,000 – all that mans is that if they diddn’t sell enough to get to a $500,000 pot – Blizzard would pony up the difference; but because it was over $500,000, they don’t have to.

Hell, Charitable organizations use language like this all the time – “IE A portion of the proceeds from your purchase will go to X…”

Here I think som peopl read more into the sentence then was implied.

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Oleg Chebeneev

Aaaaaand here we go again with another bullshit accusation.

As a poker player, it is how it’s always done. Poker rooms garantee a certain prize pool. If player entries dont cover it – room covers it with its own money. If the pool is covered by entries, room doesnt spend a cent.

Blizzard should throw 5$ of its money into the pool to shut the haters. Since “portion” part will be now legit

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Bruno Brito

Aaaaaand here we go again with another bullshit accusation.

Here we go with your bullshit insight.

As a poker player

This actually explains a lot. Are you going to say it’s a skillbased game too?

Blizzard should throw 5$ of its money into the pool to shut the haters. Since “portion” part will be now legit

It’ll also be more than they ever did for HoTS.

latorn
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latorn

So poker leagues also take donations from fans to create 100% of the prize pool? If that’s the case I had no idea it was industry standard for poker.

Regardless this is NOT industry standard for esports. A major company has never pulled crap like this before.

Even Blizzard themselves is contributing $500,000 to their SC2 tournament on top of player funding. So there’s no wonder people understood Blizzard shoddy ambiguous statement as a representation of the industry standard; why wouldn’t WoW get the same treatment as every other esport competition?

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styopa

Selling something for $ and using part of that as proceeds for something is not, by any definition a “donation”.

Sloppy language use is part of the problem here, and making it worse.

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Utakata

This is not a poker game though, lol.

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Scott Rankin

I dont think you have to step outside esports to poker to find a comparison,

If you look at Dota2 international which is the bases for crowd funded prizes (about 32 million dollars last year) then you would know that value put up around 1.6mil every year and the rest is added on by fans buying toys and cosmetics etc

Thats the expected industry standard and if you are going to go against that standard then its really easy to be clear and up front – Blizzard could have written those exact terms instead they bait and switch and its a bad look.

The “give Blizzard a break” bucket is empty as far as I’m concerned sorry.

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

Mitsubishi pulled out, and now Blizzard is pulling out of its own E-sports spectacle. This is it. It’s over. Blizzard has been nothing but a brand name for a while now, but this isn’t a decision they can possibly be making of their own will. They’re gut shot, and we’re watching them bleed out like some arch villain in a western, right in the street, using a pregnant hostage as a shield and daring the townspeople to shoot.

It’s an undignified disgrace.

latorn
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latorn

So to summarize: not only is this the first time a major game company hasn’t contributed a cent to their own competition, instead taking all the money from their player’s pockets. (Keep in mind the toys were sold at 75% direct profit to Blizzard and 25% WoW esports fundraising; which is marketing for WoW/Blizzard). Blizzard intentionally stated that players donations would “help” take WoW esports to the next level.

The misunderstanding due to their ambiguous wording could have been cleared up anytime before Blizzcon. But of course that would have meant they’d have to come forward and plainly state that their tournament’s prize pool would be 100% player funded, exposing them as the greedy mofos they are. To make matter worse, Blizzard’s own Starcraft 2 tournament has the traditional system found throughout the industry: Blizz is putting forward $500,000 and Starcraft 2 players bought warchests with 25% of the warchest going towards the esports prizepool. So of course players would assume it was the same case with WoW, as it is industry standard.

It’s unfortunate that due to Blizzard’s wording many content creator’s pushed the sale of the toys with the idea that Blizzard would be contributing $500,000, and players contributing the rest. I’m sure many purchases were made under this impression.

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zoward

Two thoughts on this:

1) I suspect most people buying the toys in Blizzard’s store just wanted the toys and weren’t even aware they were funding an esports prize pool.

2) I wonder how much of this hate finds it origins with competitors who were hoping for a $1.2 million prize pool instead of a $660 thousand prize pool.

Personally, I couldn’t care less about epsorts, and I’ve never bought anything from Blizzard’s store, so I have no horse in this race.

Andy McAdams
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Andy McAdams

What I wonder here is that if Blizzard was upfront about being acheap, miserly bastard in the first place and said it wasn’t contributing to the prize pool, that only sales from these toys (and not even all sales from these toys) would be funding it, if that would have changed people’s buying habits.

Impossible to say what the impact would have been, but I think we can assume that Blizzard being truthful here would have had a non-zero impact on the sales of the toys. I think its actions imply a negative outcome otherwise why go to the trouble of obfuscating it in the first place?

Eliot Lefebvre
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Eliot Lefebvre

Here’s the thing that gets me and makes it more significant for me, as someone who knew “purchasing this contributes to the esports prize pool” and thus happily contributed nothing:

Take a look back through the year at the increasing awareness that esports themselves do not actually generate any sort of profit. Now take a look again at the fact that 25% of the profits from these toys went toward the prize pool, which Blizzard contributed not one cent toward.

That sure looks an awful lot like making things profitable on paper, doesn’t it? And all it took was a whole lot of shady behavior.

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Sorenthaz

Yeah this is the first notable time that a big company has crowdfunded an esports prize pool without contributing in any way outside of 25% of the proceeds from whatever purchases. Pretty crappy move from Blizzard to word it in such a way to where they can exploit that – they should’ve just made it more clear upfront what the plan would be, and explain why.

I really don’t get why companies act like they can’t be transparent anymore and need to just do this stuff with little warning or explanation.

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Dobablo

Isn’t that exactly how Valve’s Battle Pass works for DotA?

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Emiliano Lozada

No. Valve puts in some money and the rest is crowdfunded. What Sorenthaz is saying that this is the first time that the company doesn’t put in any money at all.

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Dobablo

I see. Did some more searching and saw they put in $1.6m as the basic prize before the contributions get added on top.

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Armsbend

To his point – Valve is at least upfront about being cheap.

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Bruno Brito

Yeah, let that be known, we’re NOT defending Valve here. A huge company crowdfunding prizes is cheap.

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Sorenthaz

Valve starts the prize pool at 1-1.6 million out of their own pocket. The rest is 25% of International-related purchases.

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Sorenthaz

Valve puts in like $1 million or so of their own money. The rest is 25% of the Battle Pass/International-related purchases.

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Arktouros

I could see it either way to be honest. My first impression was certainly that they would only cover the 500k gap if 500k wasn’t reached. However they also didn’t really emphasize that fact and just kinda said that was the minimum, which could easily be taken as any extra gained would add onto that.

However the implication that Blizzard did nothing or isn’t doing anything seems really odd to me. They created and sold something and dedicated a percentage of those sales to the prize pool. That, in of itself, is doing something. There are many other things they could have done as well, such as selling said toys anyways and instead of giving a percentage of those profits just give a flat amount like 500k total instead of the millions of dollars they ended up bringing in.

Really I think that’s what just seems kinda petty to me about this whole “situation” you have people who are competing for millions of dollars in prize money quibbling over getting more.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

Just for clarity’s sake here, these aren’t people competing for millions. They’re competing to split half of (now) $660K. $330K for the WoW Arena World Championship and $330K for the Mythic Dungeon International. I’m not sure how the pool splits again for 1st, 2nd, 3rd place as they do (someone pipe up if you know), but even if the whole prize pool went to the winning team, that’s then split across five players, minus whatever goes to the team itself according to its contract. At the absolute best case (which is not the situation), a winning player here is gonna make $66K for a year of work. So yeah, losing out on a split of another $500K is a big deal.

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Dobablo

For comparison, last year’s prize pool was $280,000.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

Last year’s prize pool was $280K for the Arena Champs and $200K split to $100K per region for the Mythic Invitational.

In double-checking this, I found that for the Arena Champs, 1st place got ~42% of the split, 2nd gets ~17%, and 3rd and 4th got about ~9% apiece last year.

That’d bring that $66K down to under $30K for the top players. Sheesh.

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Arktouros

Also for clarity’s sake here, I based the millions of dollars in prize money off the tweet you mentioned said the crowd funding did 2.64 million. Maybe they meant the 2.64 million was the total the crowd funding brought in so that would only be 25% of that, the 660k you mentioned.

However we can again see here how people reading something can walk away with the wrong conclusion

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Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

There’s no ambiguity here; you can go look it up yourself on Blizzard’s blog.

“We’re happy to announce that because of your direct support, the combined prize pool for WoW Esports at BlizzCon 2019 will be $660,000! Each of our two WoW Esports programs, the World of Warcraft Arena World Championship and the Mythic Dungeon International Global Finals, will have a prize pool of $330,000 up for grabs.”

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Arktouros

I doubt there was much ambiguity after Blizzard also explained what they meant by minimum guaranteed prize pool (:

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

No need to invent ambiguities when there’s already plenty to go around.

From comments at the time, you can see there definitely was an assumption that Blizzard would be ponying up the base; the chief uproar was over the fact that Blizzard expected players to pitch in more. If people had known players were going to be paying for all of it, the uproar would’ve been quite different, which demonstrates that Blizzard’s verbiage had its intended effect.

In fact, one of our own pieces at the time took Blizzard’s statement that “a portion of the sale of these toys will contribute to the prize pools for both WoW esports programs” to mean that players would be contributing to the existing prize pools, not composing their whole. (You can see the wording change ever so slightly between those two Blizz posts, but the first one primed the second.)

But that’s not really the important thing; the important thing is that the actual esports pros affected thought it and went along apparently the whole season thinking it. Because why wouldn’t they? That’s how esports, Blizzard and otherwise, are traditionally done.

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Dobablo

You would hope that Blizzard would have learnt their lesson after the exact same thing happened with last year’s Charity-Mercy skin.
Oh hang on, there was no outcry because people weren’t trying to manufacture outrage at Blizzard.
Blizzard have done loads of dodgy stuff recently. Pin them to the walls for that rather than inventing dead-cats that distract people from the real issues.

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Lethality

Blizzard did exactly what they said – they guaranteed $500,000 and would have done that if it fell short. This is the players fault for not understanding.

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Utakata

That’s not an interesting statement though. An interesting position when you admit it’s not always the players’ fault. Then we would know your intellect is being evolved to connect the dots as opposed always obscuring the denial… o.O

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Bruno Brito

Hah, it’ll rain knives before [Lethality] actively admits that companies run rampant.

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Utakata

Perhaps I am being a bit too harsh though. I mean there is certain truth to what Mr. Lethality is saying. As it is true of those missed the finer print as is for those who keep parroting that Blizz’s statement is clear and ambiguous…because it’s really not. What is disturbingly lacking here is critical thought that would prevent the latter side from being hoodwinked by this stuff in the future. As they put too much faith into what is being said, without considering what isn’t being said. Making them no more competent as those who can’t read or comprehend. A fool is soon parted with their money…

…meanwhile, it is the opinion of this Gnome, that stricter controls should be placed on companies to be clearer on their intent in the legalese. So we know what they mean and thusly, can make informed decisions with the clear information at hand. So in the end, this where Mr. Lethality and his agreeing ilk end up being flat out wrong. /shrug :)

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Nathan Aldana

Leave it to lethality to always jump to the defense of corporations.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

I’m shocked, shocked to find that New Blizzard are venal as sin, she said sardonically.

Eliot Lefebvre
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Eliot Lefebvre

shocked pikachu dot jpeg

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Utakata

There you go! <3

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Alyn
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Alyn

Bang nutha one bites the dust!
LOL