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Blizzard Entertainment's Overwatch League has really kicked up a lot of attention across both the entertainment industry and the sporting industry. It's a cross-over event that has put lots of eyes on the product. Well, game director Jeff Kaplan recently talked about how major league sports helped influence the Overwatch League.
One thing that will happen with esports, for example, is you'll approach a game that you're really into for the first time, and you might become aware of the esports scene. It's so hard to have an immediate grasp on who you should be a associating with in any way. There's all these organizations where, if you're an esports fan and have been following them for a long time, they really mean something to you and you know what these names are and what they stand for. But if you haven't been following esports, it's a little bit foreign in that regard. So we think bringing a regional-based approach will help some fans immediately associate.
Previous to this statement, Kaplan explained that despite the similarities being there between pro-sports and eSports, there's still a huge disparate gap between the two. Kaplan wanted to marry the two concepts together and bring some of the elements that make pro-sports so exciting to the realm of eSports.
With the regional teams based out of America, Europe and Asia, Blizzard is also hoping to tap into the team-pride that comes with many top sporting brands, similar to what we see from the FIFA games or the NBA 2K games or EA's Madden NFL series. There's a real attachment to the teams and players and Blizzard wants to recreate that for Overwatch.
Kaplan believes that by creating the regional teams that represent different cities and nations from around the world, they'll be able to reach out and help grow the fanbase in a much larger and more significant way than just having a mish-mash of teams represented only by their names.
Kaplan also explained that coming up with the concepts to make Overwatch a popular eSports venture wasn't hard, but executing those concepts and bringing them to life was a real challenge. Blizzard is hoping to be able to make the Overwatch World Cup at BlizzCon a much bigger thing, as it will continue to help lead into the League pre-season that takes place in December, and that, hopefully, will help expand the reach of eSports and bring in more users.
For now, Overwatch has managed to become a global sales force and a worldwide phenomenon, allowing gamers from all over to participate in the first-person shooter. The eSports endeavors are still in their nascent phase but we'll see if it'll be able to grow out and eventually rival professional sports the way Jeff Kaplan and the rest of the Blizzard team is aiming for.