Activision Blizzard finds itself in deep waters after the recent lawsuit in which the state of California is suing Activision Blizzard for “frat boy” culture, sexual harassment, and unequal pay. To top it all off, a second lawsuit came in shortly after, where some of the shareholders were suing the company for failing to disclose information about the same incident.
Overwatch, being one of the biggest esports games of Blizzard, has also suffered greatly in the wake of the lawsuit. Many Overwatch League sponsors have already left, withdrawing their adverts from the Overwatch League. T-Mobile was the first to leave and was quickly followed by companies such as Pringles, State Farm, IBM, Cheez-It Grooves, and others.
The Overwatch League partners list looks incredibly empty right now, and a few of the names that remained might soon vanish from that list as well.
A League Without Sponsors
The timing couldn’t have been worse for Blizzard and the Overwatch League, as they’re drawing closer to the Overwatch League 2021 – Playoffs.
Things got turned upside down since the moment the lawsuit from the state of California came in, and many people decided to start distancing themselves from Activision Blizzard – including some of the major Overwatch League sponsors. This is not really a surprise as we all know that companies don’t like to be associated with any negative press.
As of this moment, there’s only three names shown in the official Overwatch League Partners list, and those are Xfinity, Teamspeak, and Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola is an industry giant, and while they are still listed as one of the sponsors, a spokesperson for Coca-Cola claimed that the company was aware of the allegations and that they were monitoring the situation.
You might wonder why such a giant corporation hasn’t cut ties immediately, as that’s usually how things go when unpleasant situations like this occur. Well, as it turns out, Bobby Kotick, who is the CEO of Activision, is also a board member of the Coca-Cola company. This is an interesting twist in the story and could be one of the reasons why Coca-Cola is still one of the sponsors of Overwatch League despite all the recent backlash that Activision Blizzard has received.
Whatever happens, it’s safe to say that the damage has already been done. Even if the Overwatch League retains all three of the current partners, it’s unclear whether more would be willing to join anytime soon.
A Crushing Blow to the Overwatch Community
The Overwatch Community has suffered the most in this whole mess. They have stood by the game since the moment it came out. When the Overwatch League was introduced during Blizzcon 2016, it was like a dream come true. Plenty of Overwatch action with frequent esports events. That dream is now in danger.
Sponsors withdrawing from the Overwatch League could leave it in a vulnerable state for the foreseeable future. With Activision Blizzard being busy putting out all the fires around them, and progress across many of the Blizzard games being halted for the moment, Overwatch League could face a similar fate to Heroes of the Storm.
We all know that Blizzard is not the most generous when it comes to esports tournament prizes. Just look at World of Warcraft’s MDI. If the sponsors are gone and the funding gets cut off – what happens next?
The Show Must Go On
For now, it’s best to remain hopeful. Activision Blizzard is working on salvaging their reputation, and they are yet to have their day in court. This might be the wake-up call they needed, and if they listen and learn from it, we might even go back to the golden days of the old Blizzard.
Until then, the Overwatch League will continue according to plan. The fans still love the game and they are there to support it, the rest falls on Blizzard.