The US Department of Justice is reviewing the Overwatch League salary cap policy that punishes teams who overpay players, says a new report through Sport point.
The investigation is led by the Civil Conduct Task Force, which is part of the department’s antitrust division. According to Sport point, regulators are investigating whether the Overwatch League’s secret soft cap on wages violates the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 because the players are not unionized. Although the investigation is not criminal, Sport point reports that “several former Overwatch League employees” have already been interviewed by Justice Department officials and current Activision Blizzard employees have been instructed not to “tamper with or destroy information about player salaries “.
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 cooperating accordingly,” said a spokesperson for Activision Blizzard. Sport point. “We provide epic entertainment for our fans and support our players and teams in producing the most competitive and enjoyable esports leagues in the world.”
A “competitive balancing tax” in the Overwatch League has been first reported by Dexter in 2019, but has never been publicly recognized by Activision Blizzard. According to Sport point, the soft salary 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 more than that amount, they had to pay an additional amount equal to the league to be redistributed to other teams. While in theory this would help keep the league in balance in terms of team spending, it would also discourage teams from offering more competitive salaries to players.
News of the Justice Department’s investigation comes amid the Overwatch League‘s regular season 2021, with the playoffs scheduled to begin next month. Most of the matches have been played offline due to the ongoing pandemic. The teams are currently competing in qualifying for the mid-season Summer Showdown tournament.
The news has already started a new debate on unionization in epsorts, something pro Monitoring players might want to reconsider before the next transfer window.