In an interesting turn of events, Blizzard has laid down hard line rules for how Overwatch League teams are expected to treat their players.
In a new blog post, Blizzard outlined the stipulations, which franchise heads like New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon will have to follow.
The short version? They will be required to give players one year contracts, salaries of at least $US50,000 ($62,584), health insurance, retirement savings plans, housing during the season, and at least 50 per cent of "performance bonuses," which Blizzard defines as "money from winning playoffs and other League events." During season one, those winnings will amount to a total of $US3.5 ($4) million, with a minimum of $US1 million awarded to the champion team. Blizzard's post does not, however, mention revenue from merchandise or anything of that nature.
Blizzard also filled in the silhouettes surrounding a couple other key elements of its esports operation. It noted that players won't be restricted by region in any way, so for example, American teams will be able to hire Korean players, assuming they can provide them with all the aforementioned healthcare options and amenities.
The Overwatch League is still set to rain justice (and prizes!) from above sometime "later this year." Will it all pan out? It's tough to say. Clearly Blizzard has pie-in-the-goddamn-stars ambitions, and it's heartening to see that one of them is good and consistent treatment of players. But Overwatch's esports scene is still young and awkwardly stumbling through a mess of growing pains.
It hasn't even had time to develop personality, stars, or much of a culture, and by the end of the year, it will have to be a Product, with all the requirements and restrictions that entails. Blizzard has the cash to keep its dear OWL from the talons of irrelevance for a while, but what kind of league will that lead to? Blizzard's finally answering some questions surrounding Overwatch League, but there are much bigger ones lying in wait.