While the idea of an Overwatch League carries excitement for the community, Blizzard must make sure that it is backed by a solid business model. Doing so ensures that the league is sustained for many years to come, without the studio investing for an indefinite period.
Speaking at a recent press conference (translation via Reddit) in South Korea, Nate Nanzer revealed several details for the upcoming competitive circuit. The head of esports at Blizzard explained that the game must first be improved to support key esports features. Only after that will Blizzard approach both regional and global sponsors.
Talking more on the league’s business model, he revealed that profits from ticket sales, broadcasting rights, and merchandise sales will be shared with the teams. However, the developer is still considering sharing profits from in-game sales.
To quote an example, Valve has incorporated an amazing business model for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Cosmetic items such as stickers and skins, in relation to Majors, are highly sought by active players. A portion of each sale goes to the respective team.
Blizzard may yet adopt a similar model. However, for the time being, it intends to support teams in the Overwatch League through external factors only. That being said, the developer hasn’t completely ruled out the possibility of in-game sales.
“Sharing profits from in-game sales has not been decided yet, but is being seriously considered,” said Nanzer. “It is possible to share profits from sales of seasonal esports items or team related items with the teams, but it is still under consideration at this point.”
Overwatch League will not feature any drafting system for players. This is to ensure stability and prevent existing teams from being torn apart, and an important aspect of the ecosystem that Blizzard wants to create for Overwatch.
In addition, several new features will be making their way to the game when the league begins. These include the ability to view matches through the client, checking profiles, and viewing additional video content.
The Overwatch League is penned to commence in the third quarter of the year, and will so in regions with major stadiums. The final matches will move from city to city each year, much like how Riot Games does with its League of Legends World Championship. This also means that the finals will no longer be held at BlizzCon like it did last year.