In Might, Activision Blizzard warned that the Overwatch League will not be in a superb place. The town-based esports league is going through “headwinds,” because the writer put it, which are taking a toll on each its present operations and its long-term future. It additionally acknowledged that efforts to deal with these challenges “might show unsuccessful,” though Overwatch League head Sean Miller mentioned the corporate stays “dedicated to Overwatch esports,” and that the league is “not going away anytime quickly.”

The way forward for the Overwatch League grew even murkier with the discharge of Activision’s most up-to-date quarterly monetary outcomes, which signifies that the league might be pressured to make important adjustments to its construction on the finish of the present season, and would possibly even shut down fully.

“Through the second quarter, we amended sure phrases of our collaborative preparations with group entities taking part within the Overwatch League,” the report says. “In keeping with the amended phrases, following the conclusion of the present Overwatch League season, the groups will vote on an up to date working settlement. If the groups don’t vote to proceed underneath an up to date working settlement, a termination price of $6 million can be payable to every taking part group entity (whole price of roughly $114 million).”

Regardless of a torrent of cash being poured into it, the Overwatch League has by no means lived as much as its preliminary promise of a city-based esports league. The deliberate move to taking part in home-and-away video games within the fashion of professional sports activities leagues was battered by the Covid-19 pandemic, main sponsors have misplaced curiosity, and there is nonetheless no Overwatch writer in China—an enormous drawback on condition that 4 of the league’s groups are primarily based in that nation. In the meantime, the league will not be creating wealth: Activision mentioned at this time that revenues generated by the Overwatch League account for lower than 1% of the corporate’s whole internet revenues.

A report by The Verge additionally factors to rising esports woes at Activision: The corporate laid off round 50 staff in its esports division yesterday, a move one worker described as “a major gutting of Activision Blizzard Esports.” One other worker mentioned that Activision was planning the shutdown of a number of the instruments it makes use of to run its tournaments, and whereas replacements had been in improvement, the layoffs included at the very least a number of the individuals who had been engaged on them.

The probability of Overwatch 2 rejuvenating the professional scene additionally appears faint at once. Activision acknowledged in its monetary report that Overwatch 2 “engagement and participant funding” have declined quarter over quarter, though it expressed hope that the Overwatch 2: Invasion update approaching August 10, which can embrace PvE story missions, a brand new game mode, and a brand new hero, will flip issues round. August 10 may even see the debut of Overwatch 2 on Steam, which I think can be a a lot greater deal so far as boosting participant counts, however the way it will affect curiosity within the Overwatch League is a very totally different query.

All in all, it is cheap to say that the way forward for Overwatch doesn’t look significantly shiny at once, and it makes me surprise if this post-season vote is actually extra of a formality than the rest: Does Activision actually assume groups will go for the unsure way forward for a teetering league that no one appears particularly dedicated to over a major money payout? Or is the writer merely prepared to pay $114 million to place a pin in Overwatch esports and move on? 

It is unattainable to foretell how the groups will vote with out figuring out the phrases of the up to date working settlement. Even when the city-based construction is dropped, the Overwatch League might proceed to function underneath a extra typical esports league format, assuming there’s adequate curiosity amongst current esports orgs. However given the entire above, you possibly can see why gamers and followers probably aren’t too optimistic that the OWL will proceed.

I’ve reached out to Activision for remark and can update if I obtain a reply.