Its developer Activision Blizzard has just announced the first seven team owners for a forthcoming league. It believes, in time, the tournament could prove more lucrative than the UK’s Premier League – football’s highest-earning competition. Several of the successful bidders have made their mark with traditional sports teams, and the buy-in price has not been cheap. The BBC understands the rights cost $20m (£15.5m) per squad. For that, owners get the promise of a 50% revenue split with the Overwatch League itself for future earnings.The fast-paced cartoon-like shooter was designed to appeal to both players and spectators. It’s low on gore and features a racial mix of male and female heroes, including a gay character – a relative rarity in gaming.Unlike most e-sports competitions, each team will be based in a different major city to help owners attract home crowds.And they will pursue the world’s biggest consumer brands as sponsors, rather than the kind of games-related businesses usually associated with e-sports.
“If you want to reach 18-to-35-year-olds, you really need to be where they are, and they are playing games,” Activision Blizzard’s chief executive Bobby Kotick told the BBC. “The other thing that we offer uniquely is that Overwatch is a very family-friendly game experience. It’s a teen-rated game; it’s super-colourful, super-friendly. “And if you look at the geographical diversity of the maps or the ethnic and racial diversity of the characters, those are all things that we took into consideration in the construction of what we thought would be a globally appealing experience.”To start with, teams are expected to make use of existing venues, but in time Activision Blizzard believes owners will build huge dedicated stadiums of their own.