Overwatch will live or die as an esport, almost entirely based on how watchable it can become.
The game has always had issues with properly spectating it and broadcasting it for audiences. While exciting and incredibly fun to play, Overwatch is visually very confusing, pitting 12 heroes on screen using different abilities.
Watching the MLG Vegas Overwatch event, though, it's evident that observers have gotten better lately.
Enough to ensure Overwatch will be a force to come for years?
Well maybe no. At least not yet.
If a casual fan can't watch a game and immediately have at least a cursory understanding of what's going on, it's very difficult for an esport to gain broadcast traction without an overwhelming number of players.
Difficult to view games, especially MOBAs like League of Legends and Dota 2, have overcome this problem with massive playerbases. Overwatch is on a trajectory to become as big of a game as those, so maybe it can break through this obstacle as well.
Where as games like CS:GO -- while have comparatively smaller fanbases -- punch way above its weight because they're easier to view for casual fans. If Overwatch had a player base the size of LoL or Dota 2 but the viewability of CS:GO, it would likely take over the esports world.
There's a considerable amount of attention being paid to the technology that powers broadcasts too, and for good reason. Just check out this recent article on why this is the case.
Genvid recently received $1.5 million to improve the in game viewing experience of esports broadcasts, arguing that there need to be cameras around the virtual "field" just like in baseball, instead of today's equivalent where you're basically tracking players with the virtual equivalent of a Go Pro strapped to their head.
This is a potential game changer, and confusing to watch games like Overwatch will benefit greatly by advances in esports broadcast technology.
The viewing experience is already getting better in Overwatch, and with this new technology coming down the pipeline it should get even stronger yet.
More esports influencing from Knocke: It's great there's too much esports content to watch | Don't force map rotations | Please, use Swiss-style tournament format