NRG CEO Would Not Invest in OWL Over CDL If Given a Second Chance
COVID-19 really harmed the esports scene as a whole, but perhaps Overwatch took the worst beating. Their desire to have their teams travel and play live events wound up really damaging the overall brand. The Homestands, these live events could have been what the Overwatch League needed to make itself a top-tier esport. It has Blizzard’s branding, which counts for a lot in some people’s eyes, but not Andy Miller. The CEO of NRG recently stated that, if given a second chance, he would not invest in the Overwatch League over the Call of Duty League.
Not as Popular by Half
Perhaps one of the biggest drawbacks when deciding between the two is how prohibitive the costs were. To license a spot in the Overwatch League was 20 million dollars for NRG in Summer/Fall 2017. The Call of Duty League was 25 million in 2019. That’s still a ludicrous amount of money no matter how you slice it.
Investors no doubt lost a great deal of money when COVID-19 demolished the world. All of those Homestead matches having to be online (at the best), both the CDL and OWL have hurt financially. Both of them were granted a stimulus thanks to the Paycheck Protection Program in 2020.
One of the things we’ve learned is that Hard Carry Gaming (the company behind NRG Esports) received somewhere between 350,000-1 million. NRG’s CEO spoke on the Watch Time podcast that he would not invest in an Overwatch League team, in this current climate.
“If it was now, I would probably not do it (invest in OWL). Not to make headlines but only because there’s a lot of money to spend now in two places at the same time. Call of Duty and Overwatch,”
If you had to decide which game was more popular, Call of Duty has it by a landslide. Call of Duty has a titanic global appeal, and the CEO of NRG and Co-Owner of the Sacramento Kings knows what he’s talking about.
Lots of Fun, But Worth the Investment?
Miller thinks Overwatch’s events went over well and were fun, and there’s money to be made in it. But is it worth 20 million dollars worth of investment NRG put into the Overwatch League? That’s still up in the air. He went on to discuss the divide:
“We have Hector (Rodriguez, CEO of the Huntsmen) we have Scump (2017 Call of Duty World League Championship Winner), we have history and the game is fresh, and, in the United States at least, it’s a cultural phenomenon. Most of the players on the Kings call up and they’re like ‘hey you think I can get in like a Warzone thing with Formal and Scump? They’re not calling saying ‘can I play Overwatch with Sinatraa?'”
It’s also important to note that Sinatraa recently left Overwatch for Valorant. We can only wonder if that will pan out for him.
Sure, Overwatch is popular and it’s neat. Personally, this writer does not agree with it having a retail price and loot boxes on top of that, but that’s another discussion for another day. The same goes for Call of Duty World War II. But for a long-lasting product with a wide, global audience, I’d pick CoD any day of the week, even if hero shooters can be more enjoyable.
Miller does have faith that things will pick up for Overwatch after the COVID-19 pandemic and hopes that things will remain bright for the Shock’s Homestands. His positivity comes from selling 4,000 tickets for two events, in a venue that has about a 5,000 person capacity. That’s proof enough that there’s interest in the Overwatch League.
It’s not a dead scene, but the Overwatch League cannot stack up to Call of Duty, at least according to NRG’s CEO.