Can its early success be its overall failure?
Is Overwatch killing the Overwatch League?
Overwatch Hero Pools, Valorant, COVID-19 were just some of the reasons fans were unhappy, and players were retiring from Overwatch. Is Overwatch the reason the Overwatch League is dying out?
The Overwatch League and Overwatch haven't exactly had the best start to the year. In early February, the Overwatch League was forced to cancel homestand events and reschedule its schedules. With teams being asked to move countless times, to coaches stressed, and players pushed to the breaking point, Overwatch itself is quickly becoming the reason why the Overwatch League isn't doing so well right now.
Things became very confusing rather quickly for players, fans, and coaches, who were struggling to keep up with Blizzard's ever-changing schedule, players exhausted from travel, teams needing to rematch, and fans ultimately not understanding exactly where the Overwatch League wants to be.
While it seems like beating a dead horse at the moment, we need to talk about Overwatch's exclusivity deal signed with YouTube. Activision Blizzard signed a deal to allow full streaming rights to both Overwatch and Call of Duty for its esports games. While this was a massive win for YouTube, who was constantly struggling to make YouTube Gaming appealing for esports, Overwatch just lost what could be considered the core of their viewership from Twitch.
Things looked up, and they still do! With full YouTube streams of the Overwatch League bringing in the views (albeit not many right now), Overwatch is still lacking the core Twitch viewership, who outright refuse to acknowledge YouTube Gaming, let alone watch Overwatch League there.
Taking a small detour from Overwatch League. Overwatch, the game, is just over four years old, with Overwatch releasing on May 24, 2016. Activision Blizzard had ample time to shape and create Overwatch into a long-lasting game like the MOBA giant League of Legends. Yes, I'm fully aware they're two completely separate genres and games entirely, however, Riot Games has something Overwatch needed from the very beginning.
It was a lack of openness that became a rather major factor in players leaving, casting talent moving on, and fans simply annoyed over changes that didn't need changing in the first place. It's no surprise that Overwatch isn't doing so well, such as world-class talent Jay “Sinatraa” Won who moved to a game that still doesn't have an esports ecosystem in place.
Overwatch is simply suffering from the fate of change. With companies like Riot Games expanding rapidly, Blizzard is struggling to keep Overwatch going long enough until they ultimately announce Overwatch 2. And even then, the main update with Overwatch 2 is just a campaign, nothing to get too excited about.
The Overwatch League will continue to keep its dedicated fanbase on YouTube, but it just seems like the stars aligned in the wrong place at the wrong time for Overwatch, but we'll keep our eye on the skies still, eagerly awaiting the day that the Overwatch League might rise to the top again.