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Blizzard’s Mike Morhaime Discusses Future Of Overwatch League

Blizzard is seeing some amazing things with the Overwatch League, a smash hit for the company and certainly for Twitch, which broadcasts the events and is easily one of their most popular Twitch streams ever.

Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime was at DICE last week and participated in an interview with Polygon where he discussed the future of the league and what keeps him going even after his monumental successes.

”We’re heads down” Morhaime said. “Focused on what we’re doing in the office, day in and day out. But it becomes real when we’re at a live event with real people. I see what kind of impact we have on them.

”Or when I sometimes travel overseas to some obscure places, I see Blizzard fans who’ve been playing our games for years. Just hearing the stories of what being part of this community has meant to them … that’s the moment that puts it in perspective and I realize that we’re having an impact on a lot of people.”

Morhaime also discussed his impact on the games Blizzard makes now that the company is much bigger.

“Everybody at Blizzard has to do everything I tell them,” Morhaime joked. “I’m just kidding. My input is about as much as you any other passionate person at Blizzard. Our teams are very in tune with their games and with what the community wants. They’re usually pretty far ahead of me when it comes to thinking about what’s what’s right for the game. But I can offer some opinions, you know, and they’ll take that into account. But I don’t want them doing everything that I suggest.”

Morhaime continued to say that he “still more to do,” in his creation of games, with his passion lying in multi-player gaming.

Morhaime sees big things for the future of the Overwatch League.

”The stuff I’m most passionate about is creating experiences that are bringing people together,” he said. “Like esports. I’m very excited about the stuff that’s going on with Overwatch League.”

”With esports, we’re at an inflection point right now,” Morhaime said. “There’s a lot of interest from sponsors, traditional sports owners and media companies who are all trying to make sense of what’s happening. They’re figuring out how to become involved.”

Morhaime also pointed out how Overwatch has differentiated itself from other games in eSports.

“We had the ability to intentionally design the ecosystem in a thoughtful way, modeled after what we’ve learned in regular sport and from esports over the years,” Morhaime said. “Our take was to fix some of the problems that exist.”

Morhaime points to the hometown model of regular sports and expresses his interest in that concept.

“For a lot of the other esports, it’s really tough for the team owners to make any money. We want a system that allows the team owners to be able to run a profitable business, to build something that they own, that will have value.”

“We’re building [Overwatch League] up to a point where they will have the rights to their own local venues,” he said. “They’ll be able to do all the things that traditional sports teams are able to do, like merchandise, concessions and sponsorship. Building a loyal, local fan-base around the teams will help create celebrity around players.”

Morhaime also discusses the toxicity in games, such as Overwatch, and was asked what he is doing to combat the growing issues in the multiplayer gaming community.

”This is a topic we feel is very important,” he said. “We’re looking at it from a lot of different angles. We’ve tried machine learning to identify toxic speech within the games and I think we’ll continue iterating on that.

”Players certainly have the ability to report other players when they see somebody else violating rules. We’re iterating on our penalties to try to make them more effective and more of a deterrent. But this is a big problem and I’m not suggesting that we have solved it.”

Read the entire interview over at Polygon.

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