The Overwatch League, once one of the highest-profile esports competitions in the world, appears to be nearing its end.
In a recent investor report, developer Activision-Blizzard said that it had recently changed "certain terms of our collaborative arrangements with team entities participating in the Overwatch League." Those new terms mean that "following the conclusion of the current Overwatch League season, the teams will vote on an updated operating agreement."
If the teams don't vote to continue under that new agreement, they'll be paid a "termination fee" of $6 million dollars per team. Essentially, the current members of the League are soon to vote on whether to continue the competition, or to take a payout that sounds like it'll mean the end of the League. Activision-Blizzard says it'd take a $114 million hit if that happens, but that the money it makes from the competition makes up less than 1% of its total revenue.
Elsewhere in the report, the company confirmed that players are tuning out from Overwatch as a whole, stating that "engagement and player investment in Overwatch 2 declined" in the last three months. The development team is reportedly pinning its hopes on next month's Invasion update to help kickstart the community, but it's no secret that the game's relevance has dwindled substantially in recent years. The launch of Overwatch 2 hasn't done enough to reverse an audience that shrank over years of limited investment in Overwatch itself, and it seems that the entire ecosystem is struggling as a result.
Founded in 2017, the Overwatch League enjoyed its halcyon days through 2018/19, with teams across the globe competing in what seemed a genuinely thriving esports scene. The competition never really managed to recapture the allure of that first season, however, and continued to decline through the slowdown of Overwatch itself.