Overwatch League Under Pressure After Fanart Competition Accused Of Lowballing Artists

Overwatch League Under Pressure After Fanart Competition Accused Of Lowballing Artists
Activision Blizzard

Written by 

Jack Marsh


4th Apr 2022 12:21

It's every gaming fan's dream to be represented in the titles that they play day-in-day-out. Being immortalised by the developers within the franchise's lore can only be achieved by a slither of the player base - if at all - and it's no surprise that when the opportunity comes for fans to get their work used by the commercial giants, a range of artists will jump through hoops for it.

However, as a chance to have artwork featured in the Overwatch League shop has arisen, many long-time fans of the franchise are imploring that artists boycott the event due to unfair rates and usage rights.

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Overwatch League Fanart Competition Slammed For Unfair Usage Rights

For the fifth year running, Blizzard Entertainment has announced a fanart competition, where artists can submit their own work to the developers to be featured within the actual game. With five possible winning submissions, the images would be listed in the official Overwatch store, and the five artists will walk away with $500 and the satisfaction of being immortalised in-game. 

However, despite the temptations for artists to get their hands on a slice of cash for their work, fans have now asked the designers not to submit their work, as they claim the winners are being lowballed.

For the winners, a cash prize of $500 and international recognition may seem like worthy prizes. However, the artist will not receive any additional revenue from their sales, even if the art went on to make millions. The losing submissions can also be used in future promos for free, thanks to some sneaky small print from the developers.

According to the official rules of the contest, Blizzard Entertainment is able to "edit, adapt, translate, modify, publish, reproduce, exploit and use the Submission in any way on the Website, on its Sponsor Platforms or on its sharing platforms channels for advertising, and promotional purposes," meaning that they can make money off the work that they haven't paid a dime for. Considering Blizzard made $1.8 billion, a simple $500 reward can be seen as rather insulting to artists whose art could actually generate much, much more.


OWL Apologises And Removes Plans To Add Submissions To Store

The competition is actually the fifth consecutive event of its kind, and following the complaints and planned boycotts of the competition forced the OWL to come out with a statement, leaving the idea of re-selling their work mute.

Blizzard said, "in response to these concerns, we will not be using the submitted art on any items for purchase and will work to better champion artists in the future."

Unfortunately, this does mean that any of the submissions won't be able to be purchased in the store, which has left a sour taste in the mouth of those who have submitted pieces to Blizzard. With the apology being made, the developers could still yet look at "championing" the artists in a non-profitable manner though. 

The devs have expressed a desire to continue the annual competition in 2023, although a revision of how to compensate their winners will surely come into play.

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