Competitors, Influencers Express Concerns with Crowdfunding for WoW Esports Events at Blizzcon
- Kelvin “Snutz” Nguyen said that Blizzard used deceptive language in its crowdfunding efforts for World of Warcraft esports.
- Blizzard confirmed to competitors that it was not contributing $500K USD to the Arena World Championship and Mythic Dungeon Invitational prize pool.
- The news came following successful sales of in-game cosmetics meant to crowdfund the prize pools.
Cloud9 World of Warcraft player Kelvin “Snutz” Nguyen spoke out about what he perceived to be deceptive language by Blizzard Entertainment regarding the crowdfunding efforts that the developer used to build prize pools for the Arena World Championship and Mythic Dungeon Invitational set for this weekend at BlizzCon.
In a blog post earlier this week, Blizzard announced that the prize pool for each event would be $330K (totaling $660K) thanks to crowdfunding efforts. Since March, Blizzard has been selling an in-game toy for World of Warcraft with the intent of using 25% of the proceeds to help fund the prize pool of the WoW’s year-end esports competitions, similar to the way that Dota 2 crowdfunds The International.
In the official Blizzard post from March, the developer stated that the two events had a “guaranteed minimum prize pool of $500,000,” or $250K for each event.
“For a limited time, every purchase of the Transmorpher Beacon or Lion’s Pride and Horde’s Might Fireworks, 25% of the proceeds will contribute toward the year’s finals LAN event prize pool,” the post stated. “Your support will help take the WoW esports prize pool to the next level.”
Because of the wording in Blizzard’s initial blog post, many competitors, including Nguyen were under the impression that the base prize pool for the event of $500K was going to be Blizzard’s contribution to prizing and that any proceeds from toy sales would be added onto that.
At a player meeting earlier this week, Nguyen said that players were informed of the prize pool, and when they inquired about it, they were told that because 25% of the proceeds from the toy sales exceeded the base prize pool of $500K that Blizzard would not contribute any money to prizing.
At the beginning of the year, Blizzard announced plans to revamp its WoW esports efforts by increasing prize pools with the use of crowdfunding, as well as supporting events throughout the year with two seasons of competition for both the Arena World Championship and Mythic Dungeon Invitational.
In a tweet earlier this week, Nguyen explained that Blizzard made approximately $2.6M in sales for the crowdfunding toy, but only increased the AWC prize pool by $50K.
Prior to the addition of crowdfunding this year, Blizzard contributed $250-280K in prizing per year for the Arena World Championship event at BlizzCon. The Mythic Dungeon Invitational, was started in 2017 with a global finals that had a $100K prize pool.
Following Nguyen’s tweet, WoW’s most-watched influencer on Twitch Zack “Asmongold” (last name unknown) brought the competitor onto his stream to discuss the situation as a number of his viewers brought the news to his attention.
“It’s not even about the amount. I don’t compete in WoW for the money,” Nguyen said. “They didn’t put it in their blog post for obvious reasons, but they gave me permission to Tweet what I want, and I’m allowed to take my stance on things. Hopefully, they come out with confirmation and stuff, but it’s a little ridiculous.”
Asmongold added to the conversation expressing an equal amount of disappointment and even went as far as to analyze Blizzard’s original post from March to explain his feelings.
“I know this is really granular, and it’s not the only definition of ‘contribute,’ but ‘contribute’ is a word that implies a shared responsibility,” Asmongold said. “I would feel that if I was using the word ‘contribute’ that I was working with Blizzard contribute to this, not necessarily funding it directly. … It’s an example of language that leads people to deceive themselves.”
Asmongold said that he believes that Blizzard should have at the very least been more transparent with their intentions for the prize pool. When crowdfunding plans were announced both Asmongold and Nguyen supported the efforts by promoting them to their followers, and Asmongold even purchased the in-game product himself.
“I defended (the 25% mark for toy proceeds),” Asmongold said. “That’s industry standard. Dota does the same (expletive) thing.”
For The International, Dota 2’s developer Valve provides a base prize pool of $1.6M. From there crowdfunding efforts only add to the prize pool amount with this year’s contributions reaching $32.73M for a total prize pool of $34.33M.
“It’s not like Dota takes that away if (crowdfunding) does really well, which it does. They just add it on top of what they make from the crowdfunding,” Nguyen said.
The Esports Observer has reached out to Blizzard Entertainment for comment and will update this article should they respond.