OWL localization development in mainland China may usher in a new starting point
Five years ago, “Overwatch” came out and won the TGA Best Game of the Year award in one fell swoop. 7 million copies were sold in the first week of launch, and a total of 20 million copies were sold that year, making Blizzard a lot of money.
In the summer of 2016, there was also a surge of Overwatch due to “Overwatch”. Subsequently, Activision Blizzard set out to build the top e-sports professional league “Overwatch League” (hereinafter referred to as OWL).
So far, the event has gone through three years, and it is the world’s first large-scale e-sports event that uses urban teams as a unit.
According to the official data released by OWL, the number of OWL spectators in 2020 reached a new high. The global average number of viewers per minute (AMA) in the finals reached 1.55 million, an increase of 38% year-on-year. The AMA in China increased by 260% year-on-year to 1.39 million. Watching AMA increased by 87% year-on-year.
On the one hand, Activision Blizzard E-sports is improving the professional league system and content ecology, and enhancing the global influence of OWL. On the other hand, it is also strengthening the localized development of the Overwatch League.
On April 15th, Activision Blizzard E-sports and Bilibili E-sports jointly announced a strategic cooperation. Bilibili E-sports will serve as a long-term in-depth strategic partner of OWL in mainland China. Both parties will give full play to their own advantages to jointly promote OWL’s development. The development of localization in China has strengthened the reach of Chinese fans.
In fact, the cooperation between Bilibili E-sports and Overwatch has been around for a long time, and it can be said to have a deep fate. Regardless of the OWL team, Bilibili E-sports has already launched cooperation in different dimensions with the Overwatch event.
Last year, Bilibili E-sports won the Chinese localization rights for OWL, as well as the hosting rights for the “Overwatch Challenger Series” and “Overwatch Open Competition” in mainland China.
In the e-sports event IP that cooperates with the Shanghai Municipal Government-e-sports Shanghai Masters, “Overwatch” has always been the core event.
This time Bilibili Esports and Activision Blizzard Esports have reached a strategic cooperation. Bilibili Esports will act as an in-depth strategic partner of the “Overwatch League” in mainland China, responsible for the overall content of the league in mainland China for the 2021 season. Production and broadcasting, as well as the in-depth development of the alliance’s commercial rights, while assisting in the marketing of the event in the region. This agreement will cover several years from the 2021 season.
At the same time, Bilibili E-sports also officially obtained the exclusive live broadcast media copyright and distribution rights of the “Overwatch League” in mainland China during the cooperation period.
During the agreement period, Bilibili E-sports and the “Overwatch League” will jointly invest in the development of league game content to enhance the overall influence of the live game content.
The two parties will also use their respective advantages and resources to create themed content, expand the surrounding columns of the league, and bring richer game content and interactive experience to the majority of Chinese players.
Brandon Snow, Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of Blizzard Esports, said: “The Overwatch League has established an excellent fan base in China. The cooperation with Bilibili Esports, a mature and experienced operator, provides opportunities. Expand the fan base in new and creative ways in the future.”
Nowadays, more and more game manufacturers are beginning to reclaim the right to host events. Even OGN, which is known as the world’s first e-sports TV station, has chosen to terminate the broadcast of the program and withdraw from the stage of e-sports history because of the loss of content support.
In this context, what is the reason why Activision Blizzard E-sports has safely handed over the right to host the event?
From the perspective of Jinghe, on the one hand, Bilibili E-sports has an integrated solution that integrates event planning and execution, content production and broadcasting, etc., and has professional event operation and production and broadcasting capabilities; on the other hand, it is dynamic. Blizzard Gaming is looking for a “key key” that can help OWL take root in the Chinese mainland market and accelerate its localization development.
As a leading domestic e-sports company, Bilibili e-sports has a relatively complete business ecosystem. At the same time, it is backed by the most dynamic young cultural community-Station B, which has created a relatively stable basic board for the Overwatch event.
Facing the increasing demand for content in the domestic market, for Activision Blizzard e-sports, Bilibili e-sports may be the key to this.
Accelerate OWL localization
Who rushes to the front line, who is deeply involved in the local market, these are very important for a top international professional e-sports event, of which localization is particularly critical.
The fact that the NBA can have a wide range of influence in China lies in the deep localization of the NBA before entering China.
In order to open up the blue ocean market in China, in 1979 the Washington Wizards (called the Bullets at the time) served as the head coach of Dick. Dick Motta visited China and played two exhibition games with the Chinese National Basketball Team and the Bayi Rockets.
Three years later, in 1982, the NBA led a group of stars Alex. Alex English, Artis. Artis Gilmore visited China in person. Coincidentally, they also had an exhibition match with the Chinese national team.
We must know that in the late 1970s and early 1980s, even in the strong and prosperous America, not everyone could fly by plane, let alone circling half of the earth just to come to China to “play basketball.”
Many viewers like to attribute the NBA’s influence in China to Yao Ming. But without the early localization of the NBA to open up the Chinese market and let Chinese fans know about this top basketball game in the world, who would be excited for a Chinese player to join the US Rockets?
Because of this, Activision Blizzard E-sports attaches great importance to localization. Holding hands with Bilibili E-sports is expected to give full play to the advantages of both parties, enhance OWL’s influence, and deepen the deep connection with Chinese fans.
From the perspective of the fundamentals of the e-sports market, both the e-sports industry and the Chinese market are in a period of vigorous development. Blizzard will definitely not give up easily.
According to Newzoo’s “2020 Global E-sports Market Report”, the global e-sports industry revenue will reach 1.1 billion US dollars, a year-on-year increase of 15.7%. In the global market, the size of the Chinese market reached 385 million US dollars, accounting for the highest proportion of 35%.
From the perspective of industry revenue structure, sponsorship, media copyright, peripheral products and tickets accounted for the largest proportion of the total revenue of 1.1 billion US dollars. This happens to be in line with most of OWL’s business monetization model, in which 57.9% of revenue comes from sponsorship.
According to the official announcement of the strategic cooperation between Bilibili E-sports and Activision Blizzard E-sports, within the term of the agreement, the commercial development of OWL in mainland China will be carried out through Bilibili E-sports.
Regarding this cooperation, Chen Youyou, President of Bilibili E-sports, said, “Overwatch is a game with strong e-sports attributes. The Overwatch League has a loyal and professional e-sports user group in China. This time the strategic cooperation is reached, Bilibili Esports and Activision Blizzard Esports will join hands to help the localization of the Overwatch League in China.”
It is not difficult to see that, in order to promote the localization of OWL in mainland China and enhance the overall influence of the event, the strategic cooperation between Bilibili E-sports and Activision Blizzard E-sports, both in terms of cooperation and depth of cooperation , Are very rare.
It is worth mentioning that Activision Blizzard revealed the upcoming “Overwatch 2” at the 2021 Blizzard Carnival. In addition, foreign media broke the news that Activision Blizzard is developing the “Overwatch” mobile game, which was originally planned to be launched simultaneously with “Overwatch 2”.
At this stall, Activision Blizzard e-sports and Bilibili e-sports have been engaged in strategic cooperation for several years, perhaps also for the next listing of “Overwatch 2” and lay the foundation for the Chinese market in advance.
In any case, the next development of the Overwatch League in mainland China is worth looking forward to.