Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard is taking a more traditional approach to building The Overwatch League — he’s building city-based teams. These first seven teams, placed all over the world, have some fairly recognizable names among them, including Robert Kraft, Jeff Wilpon, and a few folks you might recognize from the gaming world:
New team owners include:
- Robert Kraft, Chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group and the New England Patriots (Boston)
- Jeff Wilpon, Co-Founder and Partner of Sterling.VC and COO of the New York Mets (New York)
- Noah Whinston, CEO of Immortals (Los Angeles)
- Ben Spoont, CEO and Co-Founder of Misfits Gaming (Miami-Orlando)
- Andy Miller, Chairman and Founder of NRG Esports (San Francisco)
- NetEase (Shanghai)
- Kevin Chou, Co-Founder of Kabam (Seoul)
“Overwatch is a game about a diverse group of international heroes who fight for an optimistic vision of the future, and the Overwatch League is an extension of that spirit,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and Co-Founder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We’re building this league for fans – eSports fans, traditional sports fans, gaming fans – and we’re thrilled to have individuals and organizations who are as passionate about professional competition as we are, and who have extensive experience in all three fields, representing our first major international cities in the league.”
Overwatch already reaches 30 million players, globally, and this unique expansion will allow it to take the next step in eSports in a way that no other agency has tried before.
The Overwatch League is slated to begin later this year, with regular-season matches being played in each home city as they develop their local venues for home and away play are built for future seasons. Matches will be played on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Like traditional sports, a full schedule and ticket sales information will be announced closer to launch, but that’s not the end of the parallels to for the sport.
Like football, baseball, basketball, or hockey, the Overwatch League will generate revenue through advertising, ticket sales, and broadcast rights, with teams receiving an equal share of all league-wide net revenues. Furthermore, the teams will receive all local revenues generated in their home territory. If that wasn’t enough, they’ll also be able to operate and monetize up to five amateur events in their home territory each year, creating a “minors” and “majors” sort of situation for new players. With 285 million people watching eSports each year, there’s certainly a niche to fill, here. If you ever wanted to play games competitively for a living, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is.