The Overwatch League faces massive changes moving forward as recent layoffs by Activision Blizzard hint at an uncertain future for esports.
The Overwatch League's recent struggles are no secret to anyone paying attention, but now, there are financial implications that cast a dark shadow on the league. According to Activision Blizzard's Second Quarter 2023 Financial Release, "Total revenues from the Overwatch League comprise less than 1% of our consolidated net revenues."
The lack of profit prompted Activision Blizzard to encourage significant changes to the current OWL structure. The report reads, "According to the amended terms, following the conclusion of the current Overwatch League season, the teams will vote on an updated operating agreement." Teams who do not vote in favor of the new agreement will be offered "a termination fee of $6 million."
As team owners decide their future in the Overwatch League, Activision Blizzard also let go 50 employees from the esports department, casting doubt on the futures of other leagues as well.
Overwatch League Faces Uncertain Future After Activision Blizzard Layoffs
The Overwatch League will likely undergo changes that could potentially see the league's franchising era come to a close. Without true profit, some teams will likely accept the $6 million termination fee, prompting a full restructure of the Overwatch League.
Despite the uncertainty, though, Overwatch League commissioner Sean Miller told The Verge, "I'm actually very optimistic about the future of Overwatch esports and the competitive ecosystem. We are doing all we can to make the player experience and the fan experience one that people want to return to, want to be a part of, and get excited about to turn on."
After Activision Blizzard's recent layoffs, the ecosystem of both Overwatch League and other Activision Blizzard esports hangs in the balance. A former employee told The Verge, "In my eyes, they are completely unequipped to internally support anything esports" after the World Series of Warzone.
The Call of Duty League is also facing an unsteady future as franchised teams look to merge, leave, or cut back spending in the 2023 offseason. 100 Thieves COO John Robinson reported a loss of $2.5 million from their World Champion LA Thieves team.