Activision Blizzard are probably most well known for their huge MMORPG title of World of Warcraft with little movement into the esports space until Overwatch came along – hitting a huge franchised market Overwatch League didn’t live up to expectations for many and whilst gaining a huge fanbase it never really took off in the esports scene as many other titles have. The latest big game to hit the scene for Activision Blizzard comes from Call of Duty as the two partners, and a renewed opportunity for a pathway into the ever growing esports bubble and perhaps a way to attract fans who may be very much stuck in their ways of viewing traditional sporting events.
Activision Blizzards latest hiring, however, is set to hopefully propel the individual esports up to the higher echelons with the bigger names in the industry – Tony Pettiti is the former deputy commissioner of Major League Baseball and with over 30 years of experience in the sport is hoping to bring something different as the president of sports and entertainment – in a statement he said “It’s clear to me the company has an incredible opportunity to connect players and fans in new and innovative ways, and I’m excited to be joining the company at such an important moment in its history.”
The current titles don’t have too much going in the way of an esports scene – as mentioned whilst Overwatch does hold the Overwatch League, numbers have been dwindling somewhat. Call of Duty is trying to find its way up but whilst competing with other big FPS games like Counter-Strike and Valorant, it certainly has some ground to cover. Both Hearthstone and StarCraft have been struggling a lot in recent years for competitive viewership. One of the sleepers here may in fact be with World of Warcraft – the fifteen-year-old MMORPG has recently found a lot of success with the MDI tournament as viewership has been steadily increasing over the past few years, the AWC tournaments have also been getting a little better but the tools for spectating are often lacking. Similarly, the community run Race to World First has been hugely important for the game bringing it to many new viewers.
One thing that’s very clear is that fan interaction has become a huge part of esports, through the massively successful growth of the betting market as esports betting has begun to rival that of traditional sports to the huge viewership as these games now sell out stadiums – there’s a huge opportunity here for Blizzard to join in the growing market and take hold of the opportunity in front of them – the acquisition of someone who knows how important these factors are in the sporting world and has seen them first hand through baseball will be able to take his knowledge of the traditional sporting fan, learn more about the current esports fans, and maybe help bridge a gap between the two to deliver a more widely thought out esports experience to a larger and constantly growing demographic.