Activizion Blizzard has moved all of its official esports properties, including Overwatch League and its various Hearthstone shenanigans, from Twitch to YouTube as part of a newly announced partnership with Google. This means that from now on, thousands of human trash compactors will have to do without their favorite symbols of fascism when turning Overwatch chat into a churning septic tank. It also means that Youtube could soon see a big influx of esports fans, or conversely, that Activizion Blizzard is about to leave a lot of its audience behind.
The joint announcement was made earlier today over the standard PR apparatuses, with quotes included from important-sounding executives at both companies patting their counterpart from the other company on the back for being such a great company to do company with. Would you believe that Ryan Wyatt, the Head of Gaming at YouTube, “couldn’t be more excited for Activision Blizzard to choose YouTube as its exclusive home?” I know, it’s a flooring take that requires breadth of mind and stillness of spirit to fully comprehend. What’s more, Pete Vlastelica, CEO of Activision Blizzard Esports, is beside himself with excitement over “YouTube’s powerful content platform and exciting history of supporting next-generation entertainment.” It’s honestly such a staggering coincidence that these two men, who believe so strongly in each other’s products, would be brought together in this capacity and under these circumstances. God does not play dice with the universe!
There’s more to this new deal than just esports. Going forward, Google Cloud will provide some unspecified amount of back-end support for Activizion Blizzard’s online infrastructure: “Players will benefit by experiencing premium network quality-of-service, including low latency and packet loss when playing high-fidelity games on any device,” reads the press release. “They will also have optimal personalized interactions, as Activision Blizzard can tap into Google Cloud’s AI tools to offer curated recommendations for in-game offers and differentiated gaming experiences.”
This is PR talk for “Google is going to funnel us all the data it has on you so we can sell you loot boxes more efficiently.” Nothing about “optimal personalized interactions” with two billion-dollar corporations will ever be good for you or in your favor. I also feel like I have to point out that it should be “including low latency and low packet loss,” not “including low latency and packet loss,” which is a clause that guarantees a gaming experience chock full of lost packets.
In reality, your moment-to-moment experience as a Call of Duty: Modern Warfare player is probably going to stay exactly the same as it has been, aside from the aforementioned hyper-targeted advertising. This is an infrastructure deal designed to save Activizion Blizzard operating costs while (hopefully) boosting YouTube’s street cred in the ongoing battle against Amazon and Twitch. Whether it’ll work remains to be seen, but that isn’t stopping Activision Blizzard Chief Information Officer Jacques Erasmus from being absolutely out-of-his-mind hysterical with enthusiasm for the deal: “We’re excited to partner with Google to drive the next generation of gaming innovation for the industry.” Holy shit, dude! How can you say something like that and still have a job in the morning? Video games are wild y’all.