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Pro Overwatch teams seek legal battle vs. Activision over money

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Image: Overwatch League

The Overwatch League, an officially funded esports event, is going through a downturn viewership and problems with sponsors after Activision Blizzard’s ongoing workplace culture scandal. Now, based on a report from Jacob Wolf, it appears that the teams Activision Blizzard employs to play the game in front of a live audience are taking legal action against the studio after years of high costs and low rewards.

The report says the “majority” of Overwatch League teams are working with a UK law firm for a collective bargaining process against event organizers “after years of high operating costs and continued missed revenue promises.” The British law firm in question is Sheridans, which mainly deals with media and tech matters.

Wolf’s sources say the teams are intended to receive some economic support to “promote sustainability” after each team has spent anywhere from $7.5 to $10 million in franchise payments since Overwatch League was founded six years ago. This is in addition to $1 million in operating expenses. The report says some teams have spent more than $16 million on Overwatch League fees over the years.

The 12 franchises that joined the Overwatch League in the first season all signed on to pay $20 million with the expectation that they would be paid over time, with prices go up to anywhere from $27 to $35 million in the second season.

The Grand Finals of the Overwatch League rolled in more than 1.5 million viewers last year, but this was also the highlight of the season, which had largely gone down in viewership as the Overwatch League has over the years.

The competition is then in a transitional state Overlook 2Last year’s launch shook up the game, removing two players from every game, sparking unrest within teams as some feared can lead to staff reductions along the line. The League has played Overlook 2 longer than the public has, as Blizzard has given teams an early build so that the event could make an early transition to the sequell, instead of playing an old game that Blizzard wouldn’t support by the end of 2022.

We’ve reached out to Blizzard for comment on this story and will update it if we hear back.

While the Overwatch League has its own separate set of issues, Overlook 2 has struggled with its own issues since its Early Access launch in October. Since the sequel shifted the game’s business model to free-to-play, the expensive microtransactions and sharpen battle pass been a point of discussion for many players. This is on top of the boring events, which are reusing old cosmetics that were available for freeat one point, but now with a hefty price tag in the real world.

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