Hi-Rez Studios has announced that it will cap the 2015 Smite World Championship prize pool at just $1 million, a small fraction of the $15 million (and counting) prize pool that will be up for grabs at the 2015 International. The limit, according to Hi-Rez, is to improve the overall health of the Smite community, and esports in general, by ensuring a more equitable distribution of prizes to a greater number of players.
As Hi-Rez President Stewart Chisam explained on Reddit (via MCV), half of last year's $2.6 million prize pool was split between five players of one team—Cognitive Prime, now known as Cloud9—and 90 percent of the total prize pool handed out over the year went to the top four teams in the league. After consulting with players, team owners, and members of other esports communities, the studio decided that the imbalance wasn't good for anyone.
"In order to grow our sport over the long haul, we think it is important that we allow as many people as possible to make a living pursuing Smite eSports. This means having as many players as we can be able to make a decent and predictable wage by playing Smite," Chisam wrote.
The plan is to cap the World Championship prize pool at $1 million, and spread the rest of the money around to other events. $300,000 is going to the Summer Split and the Summer Showdown LAN later this month, as an example; the winner of the Summer Split will earn $50,000, but even the last-place finisher will take home $10,000. Hi-Rez still expects to award well over $2 million in prizes this year, "just in a smarter way that supports our teams better."
"We are busy planning out an esports schedule for this year and next that has a lot more live events. Some will be small but meaningful (like the Cloud9 vs AFK LAN last week), and some will be much larger," Chisam wrote. "Overall, we expect the eSports prizing for the next year to surpass that from the past year. We simply want to spread that prizing out more evenly across more events and more teams."