Overwatch League’s fanart contest sparks anger among fans

Fans aren't happy about the contest's rules.

Photo via Overwatch League

There have been multiple predatory fanart contests in recent esports history and the Overwatch League is the latest target of fans’ disdain for what they consider to be unfair to artists.

Fans of the Overwatch League pointed out how awful the terms of the contest were, as well as the $500 prize, on social media shortly after the announcement was posted. Many are pointing to the terms in the contest where Blizzard can use any of the art submitted without permission, a lack of profit sharing, and the arbitration clause included in the contract.

The contest is for the chance to have artwork displayed on select items that will be made available in the Overwatch League shop after the contest is over. It’s unclear what kind of items will be sold with the art, but after the $500 payment from Blizzard, the artist will not receive any additional compensation, no matter how well the items sell.

Blizzard, according to the official rules of the contest, is allowed to “edit, adapt, translate, modify, publish, reproduce, exploit and use the Submission in any way on the Website, on its Sponsor Platforms or on its sharing platforms channels for advertising, and promotional purposes” for two years from the date the art is submitted.

This means that anyone who submits art for the contest, regardless of whether they are a winner, is subject to those rules. They’re also bound to arbitration once they submit work, which is a common stipulation in many contracts that bar complainants from going straight to court.

This isn’t the first time that esports organizations have been called out for this kind of contest. Fnatic also recently had a similar contest with an even cheaper prize and it received the same amount of ire that the Overwatch League is getting now.

Dot Esports has reached out to the Overwatch League for comment, but a statement has not been received at time of writing.

Update March 31 3:08pm CT: The Overwatch League has provided a statement following the criticism on Twitter. The statement is below.

“We want to thank the OWL Community for voicing their concerns around the 5th Season Fan Art Contest.

In response to these concerns, we will not be using the submitted art on any items for purchase and will work to better champion artists in the future.

The contest will continue with the five winning submissions, each receiving the cash prize, and we look forward to celebrating these artists with the community.”