An upgraded version of last year's All-Access tool gives players more viewing options, and could change how we think about watching esports competitions.
Blizzard and Twitch have announced that the 2019 Overwatch League All-Access Pass will come with an “enhanced” command center feature that will allow buyers to view the action through a multitude of alternate points-of-view, including the individual competitors themselves. It’s a decision that, if successful enough, could significantly change how esports franchises approach viewing opportunities.
The command center previously debuted back in the 2018 season, featuring similar second-screen camera angles. The biggest changes coming this year appear to be the option to view the action from any player’s POV, as well as an overhead map.
“Since the biggest request was more personal ways to view all the Overwatch League action, we’ve overhauled the Command Center for an evolved Twitch viewer experience,” Twitch VP of Commerce Matt McCloskey said. “This includes letting fans choose the main view from any competitor at any time, as well as choosing from a wide range of viewing templates, such as overhead maps among other options. Not only is the camera versatility groundbreaking for Overwatch League, it will change the way people want to watch esports for years to come.”
McCloskey says that feedback from the 2018 season is what led them to make the upgrades, so it’s safe to assume that there’s some sort of demand for increased viewing options among the Overwatch League fanbase.
Overwatch League has been successful in part because of regional community building. With each team hailing from cities like Los Angeles, Paris, or Shanghai, each team has managed to build at least a small following because, well, my team is clearly better than yours. This change to the OWL command center will probably only build upon that, allowing All-Access passholders to not only follow their favorite teams, but also individual players.
There’s also the chance it could open the door for lesser-known players (or players the League doesn’t devote much attention to) to develop a greater following.
Take Shanghai Dragons’ Geguri, for example. In a saga that was as humorous as it was incredibly frustrating and sexist, Geguri was an excellent Zarya player, but she was accused of cheating, with accusers saying they would quit Overwatch forever if she could prove she was really as good as she seemed. One recorded play session later, she’s working for a professional OWL team, and a number of her accusers did in fact step away in embarrassment.
"In addition to the twelve, individual POVs available via Command Center, viewers can choose from a list of preset multi-view templates," Matt McCloskey, VP of Commerce at Twitch, told GameDaily over email. "Each of these templates includes a unique player POV as well as the main broadcast feed and overhead map view. Audio for these preset templates as well as the the individual POVs will be the main broadcast audio so that viewers never lose site of what is going on elsewhere in the match."
With something like the OWL command center, players can now focus on their favorites. It will be interesting to see if the League gives those players more financial compensation, bigger interview slots, greater focus during promos, and other promotional opportunities. As it stands, Geguri was the only female signed to play a professional OWL team, so one hopes the numbers could tilt in favor of female players and fans if the community reacts strongly enough.
The Overwatch League All-Access Pass is available on Twitch for $14.99, half the price of the 2018 version, and comes with other various benefits and discounts.
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