Overwatch community slams controversial hero pools change - Dexerto
Overwatch

Overwatch community slams controversial hero pools change

Published: 31/Jan/2020 17:47

by Michael Gwilliam

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On January 30, Overwatch Director Jeff Kaplan announced that “Hero Pools” would be introduced to Competitive play beginning with Season 21. While Blizzard seemed optimistic about this change, some in the community have their doubts and have made their frustrations known.

“Hero Pools” will limit the amount of heroes available to pick from in an effort to drastically change the meta. At the end of the week, different characters will be added to the pool as determined by the game’s developers.

The feedback thus far on the official forums has not been all pleasant. Countless threads asking Blizzard to reconsider have popped up with titles such as “Don’t add hero pools,” Please NO hero pool,” and “Everyone hates hero pools.”

Metro, who leaked Overwatch 2 before BlizzCon 2019, raised a point about how the quality of games could suffer. “Let’s assume you’re a Mercy onetrick. If Mercy is banned for a week, you will either just not play to sit on your sr (no decay so no issue) or you queue up, your team will flame you while you feed on Ana or something else,” they said.

Another issue raised is that the game will have frequent balance patches alongside hero pools, which appears to be somewhat counter-productive.

Overwatch League will implement a similar structure where the characters will change each week based on their pick-rate, with no hero being banned two weeks in a row. However, the fact that teams will only get one week to prepare has some pros livid.

Overwatch writer Volamel called the change “anti-competition” and urged the league to revert the change immediately.

Seoul Dynasty’s COO pointed out that Asian-based teams will have one less day of practice because of the time difference with when it will be announced.

French off-tank Gael ‘Poko’ Gouzerch suggested that the pools will add additional stress for players and coaches.

Not everyone is against the change though. Toronto Defiant DPS Lane ‘Surefour’ Roberts said the feature won’t change who the best teams are and adaptable players who talk things out will be “strong.”

Retired pro turned full-time streamer Daniel ‘Dafran’ Francesca praised the changes for “spicing it up.”

With hero pools still a month or so away, it will be interesting to see how Blizzard applies the feedback. They have stated that they’re willing to change how it is applied from weekly to daily or even match-to-match.

Jeff Kaplan even suggested that it may not even last a full season, so anything is possible. For now, however, we can only theorize at how things will play out.

Business

Activision in talks to reduce fees owed by CDL & Overwatch League teams

Published: 2/Dec/2020 22:14

by Theo Salaun

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Recent reports from The Esports Observer indicate that Activision Blizzard are in the midst of discussions to possibly reduce the amount the amount owed by Overwatch League and Call of Duty League franchises as part of their entry fees.

With all OWL and CDL plans derailed over the past year, Activision are reportedly trying to rework the hefty investments that organizations have made into their franchising opportunities. When the massive game development company pitched both leagues, neither was expected to be profitable in the short-term, but projections have taken an even greater hit due to current global restrictions.

A groundbreaking esports concept centered around the city-based model that is used in traditional sports, Activision required $20 million entry fees for the OWL’s first 12 teams and then fees in the range between $30 to $60 million for its next eight. For the CDL’s inaugural season, 12 teams needed to put up at least $25 million apiece, even more for cities that were in high-demand.

Now that the plans for local events have understandably shifted, neither league is expanding for their next season and ownership groups in both are looking for ways to save cash. As reported by The Esports Observer’s Adam Stern, this has engendered cost-cutting discussions with Activision’s latest new senior executive hire, Tony Petitti.

overwatch league 2020 event crowd
Ben Pursell For Blizzard Entertainment
One of the many avid crowds at Overwatch League events.

Petitti, formerly Major League Baseball’s deputy commissioner, was hired by Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick to a senior role involved with both of their leagues as the President of Sports and Entertainment. He joins Johanna Faries, a former National Football League executive, who brings a traditional sports perspective as the commissioner for both the CDL and OWL.

Given their experience with city-based sports leagues, Activision is likely aware of the profitability challenges that their current esport and sport investment groups are facing. As such, it should be no surprise that they are willing to have conversations about concessions that can make current projections fit closer to the original expectations.

As Stern reports, those discussions have included discounting some of the original entry fees: “one idea that is being weighed is reducing the amount of money they owe to the video game maker.” 

Call of Duty League LAN
Call of Duty League
Following in the OWL’s footsteps, the CDL also had huge enthusiasm for live events.

With Immortals Gaming Club selling their Los Angeles Call of Duty franchise to 100 Thieves and reportedly being interested in selling their OWL spot as well, many are wondering if franchise valuations have shifted.

Fortunately, it appears that the profitability projections have remained somewhat consistent despite current predicaments. As reported by Forbes’ Christina Settimi, 100 Thieves COO John Robinson would not set an exact figure on their LA Thieves purchase, but suggested that “franchise values have held up.”

Activision would likely want to avoid an exodus of owners, so these discussions to cut costs and protect brand health are reportedly ongoing.