Overwatch, the Esports League ends up in the government's crosshairs

Overwatch, the Esports League ends up in the government's crosshairs


Blizzard is in the eye of the storm for the Overwatch franchise. First the criticisms from fans for the new chapter of the series and now the more serious matter, namely the US government and that open investigation into the Esport League of the title of the developer and publisher of Irvine. True, it may seem absurd for the police to investigate a competition of this kind but there is a very specific reason: the salary cap, which apparently would not be respected and would be considered too soft by the competent authorities.

Let's go in order: in the United States, several sports are required, by law, to have a salary cap. At the moment in the US this system is mandatory for the NHL, NFL, NBA and minor leagues of various sports and it is precisely on this point that the whole case we are talking about today is about. If it is true that Overwatch is a worldwide success in terms of sales and fan base, in reality at the level of real sport it should fall into the minor leagues. And the entire League should therefore be subject to the salary cap, which according to the antitrust is not applied following the regulations in force.

At the moment the situation is obviously in the making and it is unlikely that there will be a stop to the Overwatch League. What we do know is that the US Department of Justice has begun to hear from some former and current employees of Blizzard, as well as the publisher and developer himself. We don't know how it will all work out but at the moment, if there were any violations, Irvine would most likely get a pretty big fine.

The Overwatch League, as mentioned above, will go ahead anyway. The intervention of the US government, however, suggests that a global regulation of exports is necessarily needed. To avoid even intricate and thorny situations like this one.

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Department of Justice opens inquiry into Overwatch League

The Department of Justice is reportedly looking into a potential antitrust violation tied to Activision Blizzard's Overwatch League.

Why it matters: The growing world of esports had largely avoided the scrutiny of U.S. officials.

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Driving the news: The inquiry was first reported by Dot Esports, which says the DOJ is looking into the league's unpublicized 'soft salary cap.' Such caps limit how much teams can pay their players without facing financial penalties.

  • The three-year-old Overwatch League features franchised teams of players from the U.S., South Korea and elsewhere that compete in six-v-six virtual shootouts with 'Overwatch's' colorful sci-fi characters.

  • According to Dot Esports: 'At the center of [the] inquiry is the lack of a players’ union, which would allow the Overwatch League to apply for a 'nonstatutory labor exemption.' That status has been granted to the NFL, NBA, and other pro sports leagues who have labor unions.'

  • What they're saying: 'We have received an inquiry from the Department of Justice and are cooperating accordingly,' an Activision Blizzard spokesperson told Axios.

  • They continued: 'We deliver epic entertainment to our fans and support our players and teams in producing the most competitive and enjoyable esports leagues in the world.'

  • A spokesperson for the DOJ declined to comment.

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