The investigation is not limited to eSports players' promotional offers. Dot Esports learned that the Department of Justice launched an antitrust investigation into Overwatch League soft salaries caps. These caps were meant to stop teams buying their way to victory. According to DE sources, the investigation isn’t criminal. However, Kathleen Simpson Kiernan, DOJ trial attorney, is reportedly curious about the absence of a players’ union that would allow the league to claim the same labor exemptions as in traditional unionized sports leagues.
According to reports, the cap is based on a competitive balance tax that forces teams to pay twice if they exceed the salary cap. This applies to both the players and the league in order to redistribute money among other teams. The cap was believed to be $1.6million in 2020. However, DE understood that no team had "naturally" broken the cap based on average pro-player rates.
Activision Blizzard did not elaborate on the investigation but it confirmed the basic inquiry, and stated that it was "cooperating accordingly."
The investigation will not necessarily result in a significant shakeup of Overwatch's competitive scene. However, it does show the increasing prominence of eSports within the US. Officials are now concerned enough about competitive gaming that they pay players to be paid.