Cosmetic Item sales form a big part of the esports industry numbers. Valve has repeatedly shown us the power of microtransactions in a game and how it can help develop the industry into a strong financial number.
Blizzard, despite having a $20 million buy-ins for each Overwatch League team were worried that the money would run out before the start of the league. This worry was partly due to the resistance to having cosmetic filled boxes in the game which would supplement the income of the league and the teams. Apparently, there was a lot of resistance to the same, which Blizzard managed to overcome and convince the team owners that it is in the best interests of the team to have cosmetic sales via loot boxes.
Not willing to say who at Blizzard told me, but prior to launch they were seriously concerned the money would run it and we’re having to push back against selling characters. They had to actually fight for cosmetic only boxes with the business folks.
— NO FUN ALLOWED (@Totalbiscuit) January 10, 2018