The rumours about sky-high fees for entry into the new Overwatch League are unverified and wildly ranging”, Blizzard has said.
Reports from the likes of Polygon and Kotaku suggest that Blizzard may be asking as much as $20m for the establishment of a regional franchise to participate in the new league. This is wildly more than the $1.8m it costs to set up a League of Legends franchise.
Furthermore, signs have indicated that Blizzard is possibly more keen on establishing franchises with regional, city-based teams associated with traditional sports as it believes this will resonate with a wider audience. The result is that dedicated eSports teams are feeling a little marginalised.
Indeed, in the last week alone five eSports organisations have dropped their Overwatch teams, including compLexity and Team SoloMid. The latter explicitly blamed the cost of entry for its decision.
We appreciate that there’s a lot of enthusiasm about the Overwatch League, which has translated into months of speculation — including reports circulating unverified and wildly ranging rumors from anonymous sources about purported deal terms, team pricing, and other details,” Blizzard said in an official statement.
We want to be clear that our ultimate goal is to create an exciting Overwatch esports ecosystem, the pinnacle of which will be the Overwatch League, that’s accessible to a wide audience, sustainable, and rewarding for everyone involved. We’re doing our best to take great care with building this ecosystem, and as with much of what we do, we don’t release information until we’re at a place where it makes sense to do so.
We’d like to dispel any rumours that we’re ignoring endemics. Anyone who knows Blizzard understands how deeply we care about the communities around our games. The league is built upon the best elements of endemic esports programs and traditional sports, and we’re in active discussions with many teams and owners from both worlds because it will take a village to stand up a league with such an unprecedented structure. Those conversations have been going well and there’s a lot of excitement around our ambitious plans.
It’s important to think twice about statements from unnamed sources, who may try to leverage the media to deliberately spread misinformation as bargaining tactics or for other competitive reasons. We look forward to officially sharing real details about the league and the ecosystem as a whole as we continue the development process.”