Blizzard have bought up IGN Pro League tech and assets from its former owners, and hired former IPL staff to form the core of a new San Francisco team focused on producing “high-quality web and mobile content” in support of existing Blizzard games.
“This new team will help us to further develop the rich media experiences that extend the fun and engagement of our games online,” said Blizzard exec vice president of publishing Itzik Ben-Bassat. “This is a team of passionate gamers with a proven track record, and we’re looking forward to now leveraging their expertise and technology to support a variety of online efforts.”
Peer Schneider, executive vice president of IGN, added: “With the continuing evolution of the eSports space and the renewed focus on our core media brand, we made the decision to sell the IGN Pro League technology and assets and become agnostic in our competitive gaming coverage. Following Blizzard’s acquisition of IPL assets, IGN will partner with multiple organizations and cover their events.”
Outside of the new San Francisco outfit, some remaining IPL staffers will join Blizzard’s existing eSports team.
IPL6 was considered 99.999% cancelled in the aftermath of IGN’s sale to new publisher Ziff Davis, so Blizzard’s acquisition of its staff and assets spells unequivocal good news for IPL regulars and the pros they come to see.
However, a statement PCGamesN received from Blizzard less than a month ago suggested in no uncertain terms that the IPL wouldn’t be continuing in its current form under Blizzard.
“When it comes to eSports events, we generally prefer to work with experienced partners on the operations side while we focus on ensuring quality in terms of how our content is incorporated,” said Blizzard at the time.
“That said, there were many talented and passionate gamers working for IGN/IPL whom we feel would be valuable additions to our team. We’ve already extended job offers to some of the employees who’ve been laid off, and we plan to make offers to others who may become available soon. Obviously they bring a lot of web-development knowledge and eSports expertise, which we can use to help us with our online presence and eSports-related projects.
“We’re also looking into picking up some of the IPL technology and other assets, but again this is to support our own initiatives and does not have anything to do with any Blizzard-related continuation of the IPL.”
Today’s news follows the announcement of the StarCraft 2 2013 World Championship Series last week – an overarching structure designed to tie together existing international StarCraft tournaments run by third-party partners under Blizzard’s roof.
It seems that Blizzard intend to be ever more closely involved in the running of eSports for their titles in the future. That can only be a good thing, surely?