The highlight dilemma: how to make Overwatch League recaps great again
Fans of the Overwatch League and Blizzard Entertainment are seemingly at a crossroads once again as the Overwatch League have made unscrupulous decisions and have stifled much of the highlight content that was once available in abundance via YouTube, most noticeably the work of Akshon Esports. As of late, the vacuum for quality Overwatch League highlights has not been filled, and the newly developed videos from the official OWL YouTube channel have been met with very little enthusiasm to put it lightly. But what’s the solution? How do we get there? And can the Overwatch League take the right steps in order to make this growing pain an issue of the past?
If it ain’t broke, don’t ruin it
The Overwatch League has become a weekly phenomena since last year, but often times the strenuous schedule of watching four days worth of games can become daunting for the average fan that isn’t capable of catching their favorite teams at the specific times they play.
For this reason, highlight reels were developed and customized to show the crucial moments of the game, while still maintaining the essence of what was going on — rather than just jumping from big teamfight to big teamfight with little context of how each team got there in the first place.
Certain YouTube channels that showed the elongated highlights of a match received praise for showing not just the obvious DPS pop off moments, but also the clutch Zyra grav’s that cinch up an entire team, and the impactful Reinhardt ultimates that make or break a team fight. Even more defensive highlights became added to show the drama of what it takes to hold off a team and resist the attack depending on the scenario.
For casual fans, these channels became a bridge into Overwatch League fandom that allowed the less affluent followers of the league the ability to catch up with the hardcore fan base that will watch everything live (or catch up on it) regardless. Now, the clamps that Blizzard have put on the rest of the market for content to show off their own league has made it hard for casual fans to stay excited about this esport, which is already a dangerous premise to begin with.
When looking at the facts on Overwatch’s player base, there are none. It’s hard to gauge whether or not the player base is as robust as their other competing titles, or if it really is on the verge of becoming the next Heroes of the Storm within the next five years. From an esports perspective, Overwatch is a success based off viewership numbers, but the player base does not always carry over.
This trend isn’t specific to Overwatch League, though. Across esports you can often find a healthy chunk of the player base that is completely out of sync with the professional scene of the game they play every day. But no other company has gone out of their way to make themselves the sole proprietor of those condensed highlights, and release content that is so laughably underthought as a byproduct.
To fix this issue, Blizzard Entertainment can and should operate in a hands-off approach when it comes to developing highlights of their content. They have already cut more than a thousand jobs this year for whatever reason, it makes no sense to continue paying your production and social media talent extra (or not) just to push more half-assed highlights that are regularly more disliked, than liked, on their channel.
Instead of killing the competition, work with them. Find a way to give fans the quality content they deserve without robbing anyone else’s passion for a game and professional league they are helping to promote at the end of the day. The future of the Overwatch League can get a lot brighter if they start getting on the right side of issues faster than their fans give them credit for. This highlight dilemma is a perfect starting point.