General

Blizzard Lays Off 800 People

Fair warning, for this story it took a lot for me to not go on more of a rant than I did.

Despite having a record year in revenue, Activision Blizzard laid off 800 employees in a company restructure. Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said “While our financial results for 2018 were the best in our history, we didn’t realize our full potential,” meaning that despite having record numbers in revenue, they didn’t make enough to make investors happy. The new Activision CFO recently received a signing bonus valued at $15 million (US).

I’m not going to lie, it’s hard for me to write this story without being emotional. A number of my friends were let go. For most of these friends, working for Blizzard was their dream job. Many moved to California from around the country and across the world to work there. On the evening the people were let go, I was, perhaps rightfully so, called out for not talking about the event sooner on our official Twitter account. Up until I was finally able to mention it, I was speaking with and reaching out to friends who had been affected.

ARGH.

After these events, it honestly did make being excited about the return of the Overwatch League feel weird. I was still happy to see a return to play, but it had that unsettling air around it. The same goes for covering the rest of the Overwatch news this week.

firings.jpg

Year of the Dog Almost Over

This year’s Chinese New Year event is almost over! Scheduled to end on Monday, February 18, events often last an extra half day beyond the posted date. Play it safe and never assume this will always be the case. This season of Competitive Capture the Flag will also be going away at the end of the event.

Miscellaneous

  • Kaplan said that at the beginning, he never thought one-tricking would become as big as it has.
  • Lead Writer Michael Chu said Hammond is more a mechanic than engineer or scientist.

Overwatch League

OWL 2019 Season Begins

The new season is here and it had a Gritty beginning. In addition to the eight new teams and fewer games played, this season boasts a new format to squeeze in more games. For example, the long halftime segment is gone, in favor of a shorter analysis on the show floor. Also gone is banter casters would do while the map is loading, instead replacing it with a very short break sequence. Longer-form analysis is at the start and end of the broadcast day during 30 minute Watchpoint segments both before and after the show.

The Twitch All-Access Pass allows viewers to watch individual player cams when watching live games. In my personal experience, I had to drop the stream quality down to 720p in order for it to be watchable on my desktop or else the video would turn into a slide show. For much of the night player game audio was as loud, if not louder, than the casters, making it difficult to hear them, but by the Shanghai vs. Hangzhou match where I watched from Geguri’s point of view for most of the game, audio issues seemed to have been fixed.

No individual match spoilers, but we did get to see all heroes except Torbjorn played the first night, with Symmetra and Bastion getting some of the most time out of the least-played heroes. The Hangzhou Spark had an impressive first game as the first expansion team to play on stage. Shanghai looked great despite losing one of their tanks, Fearless, just days ago.

Fanatics Update

Fanatics, the company behind the 2019 OWL jerseys, put a thread on Reddit where they responded to recent complaints from customers. Complaints had mostly been about some jerseys touted as replicas not actually matching the team’s jerseys. The most notable case of this happening were the replica Atlanta Reign jerseys that had black lettering and black numbering on a black jersey, when the actual Reign jerseys have white letters and red numbers.

In the thread the Fanatics representative officially said that beginning in May there would be a European distributor to help reduce shipping costs for the region, that some photos in the shop do not match the actual product, such as the pink from the Hangzhou Spark, and that the Reign jerseys would no longer have black lettering and numbering, and instead they’d be white.

At this time there was still no answer as to why the numbering on the replica Reign jerseys match the original red.

atlantaJersey.jpg Actual Atlanta Reign jersey

OWL Tokens

Viewers in many regions can earn OWL Tokens by watching League games as they air. Last year tokens were earned at a rate of 1 token per map watched, but for the 2019 season, but this has been changed to 3 tokens for ever cumulative 60 minutes watched. This time can be broken up over viewings.

The math checks out so that for the most part, the new method will reward slightly more tokens overall. With the old method you could get 4 to 5 tokens every two hours, and now you get 6 tokens over that same time period.

Miscellaneous

  • Gamsu (tank) was traded from the Boston Uprising to the Shanghai Dragons as Dragons tank player Fearless goes home on leave.
  • Atlanta Reign picked up Dogman from Atlanta Academy.
  • xQc joins Gladiators Legion as a substitute tank.
  • State Farm Insurance is now a sponsor for the Overwatch League