Blizzard and Dolby have teamed up together for a brand new tournament for Overwatch with a $10,000 for the eSports event set to take place between May 28th and the 29th at the end of the month. The event is being sponsored by Dolby and will be the largest eSports event in Overwatch's short history.
According to MCVUK, the event is called “Agents Rising” and will feature some of the top players of Overwatch competing for the cash prize. Gamers can expect to check out the event via live-stream from the eSports Arena in Santa Ana, California. Both Josh “AskJoshy” Sutherland and Ben “FishStix” Goldhaber will be on hand to offer commentary and will provide play-by-play coverage as the action unfolds between teams.
It's crazy because Overwatch is already building a strong eSports community and the game isn't even out yet. In fact, the game doesn't release until May 24th for home consoles and PC. At the moment it's still undergoing some beta testing as players give each of the characters a go before the whole game launches and Blizzard can iron out final bugs and balances leading up to release.
This $10,000 prize pool has been the largest in the eSports community for Overwatch, but expect that number to inflate exponentially once the game launches and a steady, competitive community emerges around the game.
This has been part of Blizzard's long-term strategy as opposed to relying on releasing a new game every couple of years and hoping it makes Call of Duty or World of Warcraft money. They've built up a long tail-end based around community (or at least they hope to do so) instead of relying solely on intermittent product releases. We've seen them utilize this tactic with StarCraft II, the ever-growing Hearthstone community, as well as Heroes of the Storm, which they seem to want to become the next Dota 2 or League of Legends. I'm pretty sure if they could find a way to turn Diablo III into a viable eSports event they would.
Overwatch is the latest game to join the Pantheon of eSports titles under Blizzard's label, primed to have a long-lasting and ever-expanding community. The design of the game is a little bit like a first-person shooter MOBA, where both teams will go head-to-head with a handful of heroes that each have their own unique abilities and skills. Unlike other first-person shooter games out there like DOOM or Battlefield, you can't go around picking up new weapons or switching between weapons. Instead, the characters are the weapons. You choose a character that fits your play-style and you learn to get good with them. In between deaths it's possible to swap out to a different character to fit whatever need is required on the playing field.
The MOBA-style setup and team-based gameplay made Overwatch easy-pickings for eSports. The only question now is will the eSports community grow around Blizzard's first-person shooter or will it fizzle out the way Halo did? I guess we'll find out after the game launches on May 24.