Blizzard buys the remains of IGNProLeague, doubling down on esports and building its own content network

Blizzard buys the remains of IGNProLeague, doubling down on esports and building its own content network ...

Today it was announced that Blizzard, makers of Starcraft, Warcraft, and Diablo, have picked up much of the remains of the short, but well-lived IGNProLeague, or IPL as it was often called. Both staff and “assets” were acquired.

The move comes on the heels of Blizzard taking the reins of the professional Starcraft 2 scene, one of the main esports titles. The company, partnering around the world, has created a unified-global Starcraft 2 circuit that will sport massive prize pools, and a regular, standardized schedule.

The professional Starcraft 2 scene had become chaotic in its businesses, with top players often forced to choose between one tournament or another due to conflicts in timing, and flights. Now, with the new World Championship Series (WCS), such issue will be dampened. In 2013, the WCS will pay out a total of $1.6 million to its various tournament victors.

In short, Blizzard is taking a more central, directorial role in the esports scene of what could be called its most famous, storied title. Framing the two above announcements are TNW’s notes from the last IPL tournament held in Las Vegas, in which we spoke with Mike Morhaime, President and co-founder of Blizzard:

TNW specifically asked if there are now too many Starcraft 2 tournaments, a question based on the fact that IGN and MLG are hardly the only players in the space. Korean and European tournaments often land on conflicting dates with North American events, forcing certain players to miss key events, or to suffer from whiplash-esque jetlag as they fly to and fro. Mike’s take was that there aren’t too many, but that more organization is needed to keep things straight.

However, Blizzard itself doesn’t want to assume that role. The company wants to work with both its partners and the larger community, but doesn’t want to “run the scene.” This approach is in direct contrast with Riot Games, creator of League of Legends, which takes a more direct role in its game’s management.

With the demise of IPL following the sale of its parent company, things are now different. However, Blizzard isn’t moving itself directly into the middle of each regional tournament. Instead extant leaders in the space such as MLG, GOM, ESL, and OGN are being tapped to do what they do best, as part of the larger schema.

What will Blizzard do with the remains of IPL? It has placed some of its staff into its internal esports team, and will, according to GameSpot’s Rod Breslau, build out a sort of content franchise in San Francisco:

Blizzard has hired several members of the IPL staff to create a new team based in San Francisco, California. This team’s primary goal will be creating “high-quality web and mobile content” to support various Blizzard games.

TNW will visit the group when they are in place and set up.

The long and short of the above news is that with the launch of Starcraft’s first expansion pack – Heart of the Swarm – the company is taking the professional scene in a new direction. And to meet its own goals, it has picked up some of the best, and now open talent on the market.

It’s somewhat opaque as to what Blizzard will do with the new manpower, but let’s hope their vision is big.

Top Image Credit: Joey

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