Esports players salary now protected by government

CINCINNATI — As the esports world continues to grow across the county, the United States government made a recent move to protect those players.

What You Need To Know

  • The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against one the world’s biggest video game developers and publishers, Activision Blizzard
  • The lawsuit works to protect esports players that play the games “Overwatch” and “Call of Duty”
  • Activision Blizzard was imposing rules that limited compensation for players playing these games
  • Cincinnati Fear esports players say this is a win that will protect the future of the sport

Playing video games professionally is no easy task. For Emma Guckiean, it’s turned from a hobby to something more. Although, the game “Overwatch” isn’t her norm. She’s usually playing “Super Smash Bros.” at tournaments, but likes to switch it up every so often.

“We still play it pretty consistently together,” Guckiean said. “Especially when ‘Overwatch 2’ first came out. We were playing it like every single day.”

Guckiean started playing video games in high school and soon found a passion for it.

Guckiean said playing video games is a hobby for her (Spectrum News/Katie Kapusta)

“For me, it’s kind of just a side thing,” she said. “I don’t plan on being a professional esports player forever. It’s just something I really enjoy doing on the side and I think of ‘Smash’ as more of a hobby for me.”

And now as a member of Cincinnati Fear, the only professional esports team for “Super Smash Bros.” and “League of Legends” in Ohio, she’s made something fun into a side hustle. But for some, this is their livelihood. Which is why recently the U.S. Department of Justice is ensuring these players are protected.

“It’s a lot of work,” she said. “It’s basically like the same thing as a football player being good at football, so he goes professional and makes enough money doing that, that he doesn’t have to work in an office. It’s basically the same thing. So knowing that the people playing ‘Overwatch’ are protected definitely makes it feel safer for the Smash scene too if something like this were to arise with us as well.”

“Overwatch” is one of the games that the Justice Department is working to protect players from suspended salary (Spectrum News/Katie Kapusta)

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against gaming developer Activision Blizzard for imposing rules that limited compensation for players that play “Overwatch” and “Call of Duty.”

Fear general manager Tim David said this is good news for esports players.

“The United States government is taking an interest in the players’ well-being and making sure that they’re not being taken advantage of,” David said.

While this lawsuit doesn’t directly impact Fear players, he said it’s a good reminder of how to avoid these situations in the future.

“The reason Activation Blizzard got slapped on the wrist or reprimanded was because they don’t have a player union to take that action of a salary cap even if it was a pseudo salary cap,” David said. “It’s important that the players look out for one another that way and making sure they’re not being taken advantage of.”

For Guckiean, she’s shown interest in playing “Overwatch” professionally, and now she knows no matter what, she’ll be protected.

“It’s definitely nice to have some form of protection,” she said. “I think a lot of people don’t realize that people actually live off of this money that they’re making.”

The lawsuit led to a quick settlement with Activision Blizzard vowing not to put a cap on any player or team salaries. A federal judge still needs to sign off on the deal. 

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