Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League Investigated By Feds

The Overwatch League logo and Department of Justice seal over the backdrop of the 2018 Overwatch World Cup.

Picture: Robert Paul / Activision Blizzard / DoJ / Kotaku

The U.S. Department of Justice is wanting into the Overwatch League’s tender wage cap policy that punishes teams who spend players also a great deal, in accordance to a new report by Dot Esports.

The investigation is staying headed up by the Civil Perform Activity Power, aspect of the department’s antitrust division. According to Dot Esports, regulators are hunting into regardless of whether the Overwatch League’s key delicate cap on salaries violates the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act due to the fact the players are not unionized. Although the investigation is not felony, Dot Esports experiences that “several former Overwatch League employees” have presently been interviewed by Justice Section officials and that latest Activision Blizzard staff members have been instructed by the business to not “tamper with or ruin data regarding participant salaries.”

The Justice Division and Activision Blizzard did not straight away react to a ask for for remark by Kotaku.

“We have been given an inquiry from the Division of Justice and are cooperating appropriately,” a spokesperson for Activision Blizzard instructed Dot Esports. “We produce epic amusement to our supporters and aid our players and groups in generating the most aggressive and enjoyable esports leagues in the earth.”

A “competitive harmony tax” in the Overwatch League was initial described by Dexerto in 2019, but has by no means been publicly acknowledged by Activision Blizzard. According to Dot Esports, the smooth salary cap per crew in 2020 was $1.6 million. For every single dollar franchises like the San Francisco Shock, Shanghai Dragons, and London Spitfire paid around that total, they had to shell out an equal supplemental amount to the league to be redistributed back to the other teams. When in concept this would assist hold the league balanced in terms of group investing, it would also discourage groups from supplying much more aggressive salaries to gamers.

Information of the Justice Department’s investigation arrives in the middle of the Overwatch League’s 2021 typical period, with playoffs set to get started next month. Most of the matches have been played offline owing to the ongoing pandemic. Teams are at the moment competing in qualifiers for the mid-season Summer time Showdown event.

The news has now kickstarted a new debate in excess of unionization in epsorts, some thing professional Overwatch players could want to rethink forward of the upcoming transfer window.