Blizzard, the developers of popular games like World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and Overwatch, have been facing a lot of trouble as of late. With the recent round of layoffs, the effective end of Heroes of the Storm’s eSports scene, as well as the debacle around Diablo Immortal to name a few. Not only that, but Overwatch, their massively successful First Person Shooter (FPS) game, has been declining in revenues for months on end, with the most recent estimates suggesting a 15% decline year-to-year. Around the world in South Korea, Overwatch is also on the decline, dropping to 3rd place with about 7% of all PC Bang usage from first place in their nascent months in the summer of 2016. PC Bangs are a very popular way to play games in South Korea.
These numbers are alarming, and the recent news regarding the staff behind Overwatch League (OWL) is unsettling as well. Very recently, the commissioner of the OWL left for a competitor studio and senior eSports staff of Blizzard said they were leaving the company after facing plenty of frustrations from working there. Furthermore, viewership of the OWL has been stagnant or on the decline. Despite a spike in viewership at the start of this season, viewership was largely stagnant for the rest of the season, according to the eSportsObserver.
All these factors, combined with the massive buy-in price that teams had to pay to get into the OWL begs the question of whether or not the OWL is sustainable at the rate that the game of Overwatch has been declining in both popularity and financially, as other FPS games like Fortnite or Apex Legends contends for both financial as well as eSports dominance. Blizzard is not taking this lightly however, and has invested in ways to make Overwatch a game that can be played and watched for years to come. Not that long ago, they’ve announced the long-awaited “Replays” feature which has been requested by countless fans since the introduction of Overwatch. It remains to be seen whether or not Blizzard can right this ship but one thing is for certain, they are trying to.