The total prize pool for Hi-Rez Studios' Smite World Championships has been capped at $1m, according to President Stewart Chisam.
The $1m limitation is less than half of the total from this year's SWC – which awarded $2.6m in prize money to eight top teams in January – and also less than the $1.3m prize money for the winners Cognitive Prime (now Cloud9).
Chisam made clear the developer's intention to limit the prize pool in a Reddit announcement today, in which he also detailed how much the community had put into the pool so far this year.
"The SPL Season Ticket, the eSports Team Treasure Chests and other crowd-funding intiiatives have already put usWAYahead of where we were at the same time last year in regards to the prize pools we will give out this year," he said in the post.
"This year, we started in April and have raised over $540,000 already for eSports prizing, as well as an additional $100,000 that is going directly to Teams through the Team Treasure Chests."
However, instead of limiting the total available for teams to win, Hi-Rez is also focused on making prize splits fairer for a more sustainable eSports economic environment. This includes scaling rewards to ensure lower-placed teams aren't left unable to make a living.
"Overall, in Season 1, the Top 4 teams in the Smite Pro Scene took home over 90% of the total prize pool distributions given out during the year," Chisam said. "As we have talked with a lot of Smite pro-players, Smite team owners, and also experienced people from the eSports industry outside of Smite, we have realised that such disproportional (sic) prize pool allocations are not healthy for the sport."
To avoid these disproportionate splits, Hi-Rez will be holding more events outside of their flagship World Championships, and awarding higher prizes for the interim competitions.
The upcoming Summer Split will see top teams earn $50,000 each, but even the lowest placed teams will walk away with $10,000.
"With a single blow-out prize pool once a year, we saw a windfall for the very top teams, but it was also an incredibly unpredictable way to earn a living." said Todd Harris, Hi-Rez Studios Chief Operating Officer. "More people can earn money throughout the year playing Smite, and the winners of the Smite World Championship will still take home more than the winners of the Super Bowl."