Overwatch League in trouble with teams reluctant to buy in due to cost.
According to an ESPN article, Activision Blizzard is demanding an enormous franchise fee of $20 million dollars to enter their planned Overwatch League. This has led to numerous teams such as Reunited, TSM and Splyce cancelling their plans to field a team due to higher costs than expected. Activision and Blizzard are trying to set up a league with franchises tied to cities like in the BIG 4 American sports leagues instead of following the existing team model that other esports have used. The $20 million asking price is reportedly the bottom of the spectrum with bigger cities being charged extra. In comparison, the American League of Legends Championship Series recently had Cloud9’s Challenger team’s spot bought for $1.8 million dollars. LCS is well established and probably one of the two biggest esports leagues in the world.
Opinion: Activision and Blizzard are trying to make a power play here and I can’t see it working out for them. While Overwatch is a fun game I personally don’t see it having the esport potential on this large a scale. It is also harder to broadcast than other established MOBAs and it took Blizzard a while to include features to allow proper shoutcasting. Even though this company is a leader in the games industry I wouldn’t feel confident in their ability to manage a league on this scale. Blizzard has previously had the biggest esport in the Starcraft series which they squandered and Heroes of the Storm has failed to make an impression competitively and is more suited for casual play. To demand this sort of money for an unproven esport would rule out many existing teams from even considering entering a team leaving only cashed up billionaires as the only possible investors. I think they are trying to grow esports too quick and I’m not sure if they market is there to support it in such a huge way.
Square Enix is ending its relationship with IO Interactive, Hitman developer.
Square Enix has released a statement detailing their desire to withdraw from IO Interactive, the developer of the Hitman series. They are discussing what to do with the team and looking for other investors to secure the studio. Square Enix have stated that this is to focus their resources on their key franchises and studios.
Opinion: IO have unfortunately never been able to diversify and get away from their flagship series in Hitman. Kane and Lynch was a flop and upon their return to the series the Hitman games weren’t massively successful. Absolution was dumbed down to appeal to a greater audience and the episodic nature of “Hitman” just felt strange. I think that the Hitman series is more of a niche franchise and big budget follow-ups were just not going to appeal to the same fans. It is unfortunate for the staff at IO but I can understand Square Enix wanting to offload the team.
Payday 2 Ultimate Edition detailed, current DLC slashed in price with all further DLC being free.
The Starbreeze livestream today detailed the future plans for Payday 2. From May 10 until the 8th of June, all DLC will be 85% off before being removed. After this, Payday 2 Ultimate Edition will be released containing all previously released content with all future content being free. There will be an option to upgrade to Ultimate Edition with the price depending on how much DLC players current own.
Opinion: Payday 2 is a fun enough game and it’s not unusual to see a “game of the year/collectors edition” of a game like this come out. There will be plenty of content included and at $45USD it seems like an appropriate price especially if future content is free.