On Nov. 16, Cloud9 announced its departure from multiple titles, parting ways with the lion’s share of its competitors and its creators, winding down its presence in the Overwatch scene alongside the autobattler and card gaming spaces.
Cloud9 released its entire Overwatch League team, and appears to be in the process of shuttering its London Spitfire operation entirely. The move comes after a reported vote that the franchised teams of the league had to exit the league with all outstanding fees waived, and a $6 million payout as a capstone.
The team also parted ways with Overwatch and VALORANT team manager Ysabel Mueller as the Overwatch League continues to fall apart at its seams. Cloud9 also finally released the final Dota 2 presence across its portfolio by parting ways with SingSing a day earlier.
They also retrenched from their still-significant Hearthstone team of players and content creators, letting go of five players. This announcement came almost a year after the game’s esports scene was significantly cut back by Activision-Blizzard, removing many events from the calendar and lowering the prize pools and participation opportunities for those that remained.
Cloud9 nor the employees let go did not specify the reasoning for the changes.
Esports organizations are tough to run as a business. You need to be nimble enough to get in on the ground floor of new titles, and have a good exit strategy when a title begins to wane in popularity. That means making tough decisions like cutting players who are considered legends in their scenes or parting ways with behind-the-scenes staff that helped build your operations into what they are today.
The esports space specifically and the gaming industry more broadly have suffered in 2023. The year has been marked by layoffs in nearly every sector of the industry, despite peaking interest in certain esports titles like VALORANT or CS2, and record revenues in the gaming space. Evil Geniuses, 100 Thieves, Amazon Games: The list goes on and on.