Blizzard broadly disputes report of $20M entrance fee to its Overwatch League

Here is Blizzard’s official statement

Yesterday, we reported on Blizzard’s upcoming Overwatch League and rumors that buying a team would cost somewhere in the ballpark of $20 million. ESPN was the original outlet to run the story, and it purports to have multiple sources who have inside knowledge about the negotiations that are currently happening. We concluded our article by acknowledging that we’ve reached out to Blizzard for comment on some specific matters, but that the developer hadn’t responded by time of publication.

Blizzard got back to us today, sending over a four-paragraph statement that’s impressively vague given its length. Instead of addressing the specific concerns we asked about, Blizzard’s comment broadly dispels the notion that anything’s wrong, and says that it’ll discuss details when the time is right.

Here is Blizzard Entertainment’s statement to Destructoid, in full:

We appreciate that there’s a lot of enthusiasm about the Overwatch League, which has translated into months of speculation–including reports circulating unverified and wildly ranging rumors from anonymous sources about purported deal terms, team pricing, and other details. We understand the interest in the rumors, and we feel it’s important to clarify some things for our community.

First, we want to be clear that our ultimate goal is to create an exciting Overwatch esports ecosystem, the pinnacle of which will be the Overwatch League, that’s accessible to a wide audience, sustainable, and rewarding for everyone involved. We’re doing our best to take great care with building this ecosystem, and as with much of what we do, we don’t release information until we’re at a place where it makes sense to do so.

Second, we’d like to dispel any rumors that we’re ignoring endemics. Anyone who knows Blizzard understands how deeply we care about the communities around our games. The league is built upon the best elements of endemic esports programs and traditional sports, and we’re in active discussions with many teams and owners from both worlds because it will take a village to stand up a league with such an unprecedented structure. Those conversations have been going well and there’s a lot of excitement around our ambitious plans.

Finally, it’s important to think twice about statements from unnamed sources, who may try to leverage the media to deliberately spread misinformation as bargaining tactics or for other competitive reasons. We look forward to officially sharing real details about the league and the ecosystem as a whole as we continue the development process. In the meantime we are staying focused on our goal of creating an awesome Overwatch esports experience for players, partners, and fans, and we want to thank everyone for their continued support.

Blizzard seems to maintain that ESPN’s report was part of an ongoing war of attrition from potential investors. By spreading falsities, Blizzard might panic and agree to deals that are more favorable to the buyers. Of course, there’s also the possibility that this is all PR spin on Blizzard’s part and that the situation is almost exactly as described by those unnamed sources. As usual, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

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Brett Makedonski
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