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First Person Shooters (Games) Media Software Games Entertainment

Blizzard Launches A Professional Sports League For 'Overwatch' (usatoday.com) 64

An anonymous reader quotes USA Today: One of Blizzard Entertainment's hottest video games is making the jump into a professional sports league. [Blizzard] announced Friday the launch of Overwatch League, a professional video gaming league kicking off its inaugural season during the second half of 2017... Blizzard says the league will combine competitive video gaming -- better known as eSports with hallmarks of professional sports leagues like the National Football League, complete with teams based in various cities worldwide featuring owners who will cultivate team and player development... Blizzard will start by recruiting prospective owners representing cities in the Americas, Europe, Asia and other parts of the globe... Players who get picked up by a team are guaranteed contracts complete with benefits, and owners will be required to take steps to develop their players and grow their fan bases.
Overwatch already has 20 million players after just four months. Could professional videogame competitions someday become more popular than football?
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Blizzard Launches A Professional Sports League For 'Overwatch'

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  • And let's face it, playing computer games is no spectator sport. Of course you will have a few people who would watch because they're interested in the game itself, the same way you have a handful of people wanting to watch chess, people who are playing themselves and want to watch people who can play well, maybe learn a thing or two or just watch how the "pros" are doing it, but there is simply no mass appeal like with football, soccer or basketball, where people who are not playing themselves are interest

    • by Draeven ( 166561 )

      Had this been 2010, I would have agreed with you. The numbers for 2015 show that esports isn't just a game these days, though. Sure, these aren't NFL or MLB numbers, but they aren't minor either.

      http://esports-marketing-blog.... [esports-ma...g-blog.com]

      • So what you have here is 36 million viewers for the top gaming events and 30k people attending physically. Compare the former to some YouTube videos of some YouTube "stars" and the latter to the average E3 (or BlizzCon) attendance number and you'll see that this is pretty much what I was talking about: People who are not only interested in a certain activity but are most likely actively participating in it and only because of this interested in watching those that are good at it.

        There isn't much room for in

        • You mean like the part of the population that has grown up playing Nintendo games or spending their free time gaming on a PC? A sizable portion of the upcoming generation already plays computer games. Eventually the people who didn't grow up playing computer games will die off.

          Your exact argument could have been applied to basketball or football in their infancy, and yet they're some of the most popular sports in the U.S. at this point. Whether or not Overwatch, or any other computer game reaches anywher
      • Yes, professional e-sports is a thing, and yes, endorsements by the stars is valuable to prospective sponsors, but I doubt that this is ever going to become as big as current pro-sports like football or (outside the US) the real kind of football that you actually play with your feet. I don't doubt that you can attract a few thousands to a couple ten thousand people to come to some global event, and you will find a million or ten to watch it if broadcast world wide, but that's basically your potential market

        • Yes, there is a market. But I doubt that it will ever become any bigger than for other niche games like chess or curling. There are also fans of either, but neither has any kind of mass appeal.

          People said the same thing about video games 10,20,30 years ago. Now, video gaming is a ~$100 billion USD industry that makes ~2.5 times the revenue of global box office sales (all film/TV revenue together is still quite a bit more, at ~$300 billion, but the gap is closing). And only ~$40 billion of that is mobile gaming. The days of video gaming being a "niche market" are long since over. And you can easily do weekly events, though no ones started doing that yet, in part because if you want to watch video

          • Yes playing video games is a huge market. Watching video games not so much.

          • by tepples ( 727027 )

            One difference between video games and ball sports is that unlike ball sports, video games are subject to an exclusive right to perform them publicly. A game's publisher holds copyright that it can use and in some cases has used to ban leagues from publicly performing its games [arstechnica.com]. Blizzard, for example, has had a spat with KeSPA from 2008 through 2011 [wikipedia.org]. This doesn't bode well for potential competitors to Blizzard's league.

            If the National League held copyright on baseball, the American League, Negro National Le

        • Yes, there is a market. But I doubt that it will ever become any bigger than for other niche games like chess or curling. There are also fans of either, but neither has any kind of mass appeal.

          I broadly agree with you. However I expect interest in "traditional" sports to fall as well - all the arguments against videogames as a spectator sport are the same for football as a spectator sport. The only thing these sports have in their favour is momentum - every watches a match/talks about a match because their friends are all watching/talking about a match.

          Watching sports was a draw when kids had little else to do. Now, they've got a ton of other activities more interesting than watching a match. The

          • Well, I'm not that sure. Team sports are attractive for one single reason: You can't just do them at home. Even if I am in shape and able to play football, I still need a lot of friends to get a game going. Plus, I could get hurt. So, if I'm interested in that sport, the only way to enjoy it (if I don't have a lot of friends that share that interest) is to watch it on TV.

            Plus, the learning curve to play it in a way that's good enough to not drop the ball more often than catching it is pretty steep. It is wa

            • Well, I'm not that sure. Team sports are attractive for one single reason: You can't just do them at home. Even if I am in shape and able to play football, I still need a lot of friends to get a game going. Plus, I could get hurt. So, if I'm interested in that sport, the only way to enjoy it (if I don't have a lot of friends that share that interest) is to watch it on TV.

              Well, that's why I said that the interest would fall. Sports as a spectator pastime was interesting because there was so little else to interest a teen/young adult. That has changed. Prior to 2000, the average person was the target audience for sports (matches, news, etc). Post-2010 the average person plays more phone-games than viewing sport.

              Looking at the stats (last time I looked sometime last year), sports viewers still made up less than 10% of the population while at one point in the past it was well

              • Sports will take a long time to die off, they have a huge amount of inertia and are still getting record TV deals. The fans may be old, but they won't die for decades. Real sports also has local pride to keep people watching, a Geordie will keep watching Newcastle United FC, but it's much easier to stop watching SKT Telecom T1 if they go to shit.

    • by Afty0r ( 263037 )

      And let's face it, playing computer games is no spectator sport.

      Errr... three years ago an e-sports event became the fastest selling event ever to sellout the Staples Center... http://www.redbull.com/us/en/e... [redbull.com]

    • However, games like Starcraft sold in the millions, and some players are considered super stars in their countries.
      Just because your girlfriend neither plays nor watches Starcraft competitions, it does not mean that jap. or korean school girls do it neither.

    • by paskie ( 539112 )

      ...yet, there are professional chess (and Go, shogi) players. It's just smaller economics than football, but that's okay.

    • If eSports want to get a loyal fanbase they need a stable game: The same game played for many years, small amount of changes, rules easy to understand.
      There's a few popular sports (10,20?) How many games are there that are played professionally? For how long?
      • by tnok85 ( 1434319 )
        League of Legends has been adding new champions consistently from 40 in 2009 to 133 today. That's a LOT of changes, and they've been quite successful. I don't play LoL anymore, but the games are still "okay" to watch. I wouldn't go out of my way. Same with CS:GO. Overwatch I'm actively playing, Diamond ranked, and I can't stand watching games. It's *too* chaotic, there's too much to watch and a caster can never get the full picture.
  • The leagues it has needs better organization, stability, and developer agnosticism. I don't trust that Blizzard's "Overwatch League" will be kicking around ten years from now, but I expect that MLG and EVO will.

    For an idea on how e-sports could actually change to a lasting, reliable force, Chris Kluwe (who's pretty on point for this sort of stuff) spells it out entirely [riftherald.com].

    • If Blizzard have their own league then they know they can always keep it going. If MLG had Overwatch, they would drop it as soon as it became unpopular.

      • That is completely true.

        It's also true that Overwatch will, sooner or later, lose its player base (and I don't mean to knock it! The SO and I both play). At some point Blizzard is going to need to scale back on promotion, events, and prizes. And what's left of the Overwatch League at that point? An e-sports league dedicated to a single game is ephemeral; one of the biggest advantages major league sports has is history. Narratives build around around teams, cities, players, and beyond. The Cubs' World S

        • By that logic, MLB should never have been formed, because they would have had to scale it back if baseball lost popularity. They should have put it in a general 'Sports League' with multiple sports involved.

          • The modern MLB did not spring fully-formed from the earth. Itcame about from the rise and fall and merging and ship-jumping of dozens of professional baseball leagues and teams. So did the NFL, NHL, and every other major professional sports league. They all crawled over the bodies of other leagues, grabbing what they needed, and adding to the corpse pile along the way.

            E-sports is in that early stage now. We can either use what we've learned to organize e-sports now on the basis of their strengths and we

  • https://newzoo.com/insights/ar... [newzoo.com] Has caught baseball & hockey for US male millennials
  • What's next? Calling Scrabble tournaments "sports" events? Not all competitions are sports events. Most, if not all, sports events are competitions. See the difference?
    • by EvilSS ( 557649 )

      What's next? Calling Scrabble tournaments "sports" events? Not all competitions are sports events. Most, if not all, sports events are competitions. See the difference?

      Old people don't get young people. News at 11.

  • Pathetic. (Score:2, Informative)

    by jcr ( 53032 )

    Sportsball is bad enough, but watching other people play computer games, for fuck's sake?

    Get off the couch, people!

    -jcr

    • Re:Pathetic. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Sunday November 06, 2016 @11:48AM (#53223395)
      As a form of entertainment is it really any worse than watching television? You could pretty much make the same argument for any other widely accepted form of entertainment (e.g., watching a movie (i.e., watching other people pretend to be something they're not), listening to music (i.e., hearing a recording of some other people blowing air, physically striking, or using other means to produce vibration), reading a book, etc.) in that you could go outside instead. Of course if that's the crux of the argument, there's nothing stopping you from doing it while you're running on a treadmill.

      Almost any form of human entertainment seems rather silly when you stop to look at it. Most don't produce anything of material worth or have an extrinsic value unless they're being done professionally.
      • When I play in an MMO, I am one of the actors in the television show that I am watching. It's much more interactive than passively sitting on the couch watching a sports event, or watching some other twitch monkey play a video game.

  • player unions? W2 or 1099? travel costs?

    Also what will be on the clock time and off the clock time?

    Will the player be able to cover the costs of a tax pro to deal with the Jock taxes? and will the teams / Blizzard have there own issues with that if say they try to do some tricks that the IRS or others say no you can't do that.

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