The upcoming Overwatch league has been getting a lot of press coverage lately, for better or for worse. While many major teams have announced they are dropping from the League, it is still set to launch in the next few months. Overwatch will compete with other highly popular eSports like League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
However, there are a few key factors that could launch Overwatch to the top of the eSports industry, and possibly bring the whole business truly into the mainstream.
Huge Market Share + Huge Viewership = Huge Profits
Overwatch has some big advantages over its rivals. For one, Blizzard Entertainment has been in the industry for a long time, and already boasts millions of players across several games, including WoW, Starcraft II, Hearthstone and Diablo III. Most of these people, along with the rest of the video game industry, went ballistic (in the best possible way) when Overwatch was announced, and the game went on to win Game of the Year on several websites.
This is a different story from Riot Games’ trajectory, whose sole game is League of Legends. While the game is hugely popular now, it had to build that traction from scratch, whereas Overwatch pretty much already had an audience ready.
Overwatch is already showing its immense success. The game has 15 million players, was the most popular game the month it was released, and it currently holds about 30% of the market in South Korea, beating out League of Legends. Overwatch was also the most-watched game on Twitch, once again beating out League of Legends. While there aren’t specific numbers on the viewers, it is likely that Overwatch could give the NFL (with 60 million viewers per year) a serious run for its money.
With Overwatch dominating the competition in every way, Blizzard is set up for huge success, regardless of major teams dropping from the league.
Traditional Sports Owners Are Paying Attention
The future of the sports industry rests on eSports, at least that’s what some traditional sports teams’ owners believe. That shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. As any eSports blog at Master Mazuma explains, eSports is rapidly growing and now has the same marketability as traditional sports venues. In fact, eSports have expanded enough to allow for specialized eSports betting websites. Key players in the betting and sports industries have taken interest in eSports for sure, and recently invested in seven new teams for the Overwatch league.
With backing from major figures in the traditional industry, Overwatch is looking stronger than ever, and it could become hugely profitable for the game developer and the owners alike. The owners will also like push advertising for their eSports teams on ESPN and other sports-related media, which means we could see some crossover in viewership. The more airtime eSports get, the more the sector will grow.
Overwatch has this unique advantage over the industry, but that doesn’t mean Blizzard will be the only benefactors. Viewers who start on Overwatch may move to LoL or Dota 2, which means more crossover viewership which means more growth.
Nowhere but Up
The eSports industry has been growing for a long while, but it still appears it will only get bigger from here. The introduction of the Overwatch league will only speed up the growth of the industry, and that can only be a good thing. Overwatch Season 1 is set to start later this year, and we are all eagerly waiting to see how it turns out.