It was reported Blizzard are late on payments for season two of Overwatch Contenders league, as confirmed by several Overwatch players, who stated that their payments either arrived late or were failed to be made even months after the season concluded.
Late payments have been plaguing the esports scene since its inception and while the issue is much more prevalent in some small-time tournaments and lesser-known esports titles, it's rather shocking to see the problem has spread into the Overwatch competitive scene as well.
While Overwatch Contenders is notorious for low viewership and lack of funds, which just recently resulted in Team Gigantti exit from the scene, it's hard to understand why Blizzard - one of the biggest game developers and a juggernaut in the esports industry, fails to pay their players the prize winnings they earned last season, especially if we consider all the success the company had in 2019, with the release of World of Warcraft Classic, the massive success of Hearthstone, Overwatch and most notably the immense popularity of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
Blizzard's financial reports for the third quarter showed an impressive $1.28bn valuation, which makes the whole issue surrounding Blizzard's failure to pay the players even harder to understand. What exactly caused the issue is at this point anyone's guess, but one thing is for sure - some Overwatch Contenders players are still waiting to receive the paychecks which should be paid out months ago.
As reported, there have been a couple of Contenders players who came forward to say they are still waiting for the payments. One claimed he is still waiting for prize money for Contenders Season 2: North America, which ended in August 2019, and others claimed they had to wait up to five months to receive their payments.
While most of the players already received their payments, some of them had to wait for several months. An unnamed player told esports media outlets it took Blizzard four months to pay his prize winnings and while the paycheck eventually arrived, such occurrences should not be tolerated nor in any way accepted, especially with a company such as Blizzard involved.
Unfortunately, Blizzard are not contractually bound to pay the players in a given time frame, considering the Overwatch Contenders' official rule book does not state when the players should receive the payments in question, which is concerning on its own.
What is perhaps even more concerning about the whole ordeal is that players reported they had a hard time contacting Blizzard representatives, who showed a severe lack of communication. That resulted in players waiting for several days to receive a response from the Blizzard's administration and even then, they were not guaranteed to get the answer they were looking for.
"Player wellbeing is incredibly important to us, and our payment system is designed to protect our players by giving them the option to collect winnings directly from Blizzard," stated Overwatch Contenders spokesman.
The spokesman also claimed that "over 90%" of Contenders players globally have been paid for 2019 Season 2 in full, and that Blizzard is working directly with the remaining players to process the remaining payments.
"We understand this is an important issue for our players. We’ve cut down on payment time significantly since Contenders began in 2017."
Whether the last statement is true or not is at this point anyone's guess and while the payment might be significantly faster compared to three years ago, that does not take away from the fact some players had to wait months to be compensated.
On a more positive note, Blizzard stated they have employed dedicated staff in order to establish better communication between themselves and the Overwatch players, to ensure they will fix the issue as soon as possible and prevent such incidents from happening again in the future.
"We have also recently added a dedicated staffer who regularly communicates with Contenders players and teams directly via email, phone, and instant-messaging services,” the spokesperson said.
“This person is actively following up on missing information from the remaining players that we need to process payment."
While it is understandable any company, even as big and as successful as Blizzard can stumble once and a while, the recent announcements do raise a question on the capability of the company to follow through with their expansion of tournaments.
Just recently, Blizzard announced a partnership with ESL and DreamHack in a bid to expend Hearthstone, StarCraft II and Warcraft III esports scene with added tournaments and bigger prize pools, not to mention the inaugural Call of Duty League season, which is set to take off later this month. However, seeing how Blizzard are having a hard time keeping their Overwatch scene in order, they might want to rethink whether they are prepared for another massive expansion for their esports titles or at very least take the needed steps to avoid such incidents from occurring in the future.