Experts Discuss State of Activision Blizzard Esports Under Microsoft

Industry experts, esports pros, and executives all feel optimistic as Microsoft looks to take over the esports operations of Activision.

Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard last week left many questions in its wake. One question being asked around is now that Microsoft is set to be in charge of the company’s esports ventures, what is in the cards for those games? Pros and esports executives alike are pondering the future as Microsoft is set to take the helm of Activision’s esports programs.

Overwatch League and Call of Duty League pros took the announcement as they usually do, with the best memes and Halo mashup reactions. But deep down the sentiment of “what next?” still lingered. Activision Blizzard has had some trouble with its esports programs as of late. The Overwatch League and Call of Duty League have been having trouble paying dividends thanks to the prolonged effect of the pandemic on its desire to host live events in team cities. In terms of the games themselves, they’re not pulling the numbers expected, despite growth in some markets.


Interviews with the Washington Post claim that even esports executives of participating teams were caught just as unaware as fans that Activision Blizzard had been acquired by Microsoft. Team Envy Chief Executive Tom Murphy admitted that he, like many gamers, was awoken that Tuesday morning with a barrage of texts that told him of the news before he could get a chance to see it himself on TV. The feeling among Murphy and other esports executives is optimism as Microsoft may be able to inject new cash into the respective leagues and open it up to even more viewership avenues.

Industry analyst Michael Pachter spoke with Axios, and he believes Kotick had a misguided belief that the popularity of Call of Duty and Overwatch would be enough to boost the company’s esports scene into new markets. Though there is growth, that ideology hasn’t panned out as he hoped, and the leagues are operating at a loss. With Microsoft taking over, it is believed that a new ideology of how to run these leagues could take over. It could bring a new injection of cash into the leagues and spur more esports organizations and cities to join the league under a new structure, perhaps with a decrease in buy-in costs.


Overwatch League players and staff are currently ramping up to a season full of questions as the league is set to play the full season on an early build of Overwatch 2, a decision that was made well before the game was delayed into a nondescript future. Call of Duty League had to start the CDL kick-off events without its Control map types due to lingering issues with the game mode and general disdain for Call of Duty: Vanguard. The Overwatch Path to Pro system has seen a shrink in its region availability and prize pools while Overwatch League teams have been steadily pulling the plug on its Academy teams.

Microsoft isn’t a stranger to esports, as it has run its Halo esports product for years under a different model. There was also mention of other Activision Blizzard esports-focused games like StarCraft and Activision product Major League Gaming in the initial acquisition statement. So there is at least a direction on continuing and growing the esports scenes it is acquiring.

Source: Axios, Washington Post

Source: Gamerant

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