The conclusion of the Overwatch League (OWL) 2023 has marked the end of an era in esports. Game developer and publisher, Blizzard Entertainment, has announced its intentions to build a revitalized esports program. It was the esports operations team at Activision Blizzard who delivered this vague hint within 24 hours after OWL concluded. While exact details are yet to be revealed, many speculate that the OWL will be replaced. That means the 6th running of the tournament will be its last, ending the reign of one of esports’ most influential first-person shooters.
Blizzard Revamping eSports Program
Overwatch 2 faced significant challenges commercially. They received negative reviews across various platforms, even when they ported to the Steam store. Therefore, there is minimal interest in the esports scene even during the highlights of the OWL.
Both viewers and esports bettors alike are losing interest in Overwatch 2. While the best Bitcoin casinos and sportsbooks still cover its events, it is no longer a prominent market. Losing both spectators and esports bettors would mean the end for the video game as a whole.
The situation deteriorated when Activision Blizzard offered an exit pay of $6,000,000 to each esports team in July 2023. They offered means to end the OWL after its 6th run, officially ending the competitive side of the game so resources could be dedicated to improving the game.
Overwatch 2 esports teams are not making money
Activision Blizzard disclosed in May about Overwatch League’s bad financial health. Its city-based esports league is pushing ahead with large investments in various factors but minimal returns. Even partnerships with businesses like apparel and Bitcoin casino websites have withdrawn from their affiliation with Overwatch 2 esports.
The financial troubles persisted for months, leading to their $6,000,000 exit fee offer. Midway through July, teams voted to take the exit payment, racking up $114,000,000 in total. It’s unclear whether this means it’s the official end for Overwatch esports in its entirety. They could end the OWL but that could mean introducing a new league in 2024 moving forward.
‘Overwatch League is Dead’ trends worldwide
Overwatch stands as a title in the first-person shooter genre, with the original game winning the Game of the Year title in 2016. However, all kinds of questionable decisions from Activision Blizzard ruined the game’s reputation which dismayed millions of fans. Thus, content creation about its eventual end became a hot topic online.
Blogs, news, and YouTube videos centered around the eventual fall of one of the most beloved games of the decade. These found audiences among the remaining fans of the franchise, the companies’ harshest critics, and Bitcoin Sportsbet punters of the OWL. Professional esports players have also talked about the league’s situation in podcasts which added to the chorus of concern and disappointment.
Public perception of Overwatch 2 lately
The current consensus about Overwatch 2 is that it’s a bad game both for its poor execution of concepts as well as its mishandled resources. It’s a major letdown compared to the masterpiece that it replaced, Overwatch (2014). The state of the game is even more apparent if compared side-by-side with its rival titles like:
- VALORANT (Riot Games)
- Counter-Strike 2 (Valve)
- Apex Legends (Respawn Entertainment)
- Paladins (Hi Rez Studios)
Gamers have also begun comparing Overwatch 2 to Team Fortress 2, a 2007 game from Valve which was one of Blizzard’s inspirations for their hit hero shooter. The comparisons became trending when Blizzard released their game on Steam on 8th August. That decision just made them subject to negative reviews, making them the lowest-rated game on the platform.
Overwatch 2 working on both PvE and esports contents
Activision Blizzard’s announcement on a revitalization project is a promise to fans of both esports and player-versus-entity (PvE). The goal is to do right by Overwatch fans’ continued support in spite of the franchise being at its lowest point. There is still great potential for the game and gamers know this but the recovery is up to Activision Blizzard’s decisions.
The PvE is currently their focus because Overwatch 2 was specifically marketed to be a game with casual co-op content. It was to be called ‘Hero Mode’ where players can play their favorite characters with friends or strangers without being competitive. They dropped the ball when they announced the intent to fully scrape it in a developer update in March 2023.
That clip from the developer update immediately made rounds on the internet, enraging their fans. Overwatch 2 was already struggling since its release in 2022 and the majority of its supporters were holding onto hope that Hero Mode could redeem it. Learning that it was going to be removed or simplified caused major backlash so Blizzard backtracked.
What’s next for Overwatch esports?
Right now, Activision Blizzard is focused on enriching the PvE experience to a satisfactory level. They already declared that they can’t meet the level of content that they promised. The original plan in May 2023 was to completely scrape Hero Mode but the backlash that they received right after made them decide to keep a semblance of it.
That means Activision Blizzard’s team needs to focus on the PvE mode and minimize resources for the esports scene. They haven’t laid off any staff members since the last time in July 2023 which means that they are still working on ways to revive the OWL for 2024. How that will look like is not hinted at in any announcements as of today.
Overwatch is a massive franchise and both fans as well as the company know that it is worthy of a second chance. That’s why its esports scene is bound to make a return in the coming years. Streaming and Bitcoin casino services will continue to cover their competitive events with hopes for the future.
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