The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the Overwatch League’s soft wage cap, which penalizes teams who overpay players, so a new report by Point sports.
The investigation is led by the Civil Conduct Task Force, which is part of the department’s antitrust division. According to Point sports
The Justice Department and Activision Blizzard did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Kotaku.
“We have received a request from the Department of Justice and are working together accordingly,” said an Activision Blizzard spokesman Point sports. “We provide epic entertainment for our fans and support our players and teams in producing the most competitive and entertaining esports leagues in the world.”
A “competitive balance sheet tax” in the Overwatch League was first reported by Dexter in 2019, but was never publicly recognized by Activision Blizzard. According to Point sports, the soft cap per team in 2020 was $ 1.6 million. For every dollar that franchises like the San Francisco Shock, Shanghai Dragons and London Spitfire paid over that amount, they had to pay an equal additional amount to the league, which was redistributed to the other teams. While this would theoretically help keep the league balanced in terms of team spending, it would also deter teams from offering more competitive salaries to players.
The news of the Justice Department investigation comes in the middle of the Overwatch League‘s Season 2021 2021, with playoffs slated to begin next month. Most of the games were played offline due to the ongoing pandemic. The teams are currently competing in mid-season qualifications for the Summer Showdown tournament.
The news has already sparked a new debate about organizing in epsorts, somewhat pro Overwatch player might want to reconsider before the next transfer window.