Every time I try to build an argument that Major League Gaming is a disingenuous corporate entity in the United States esports scene, I feel like I can’t commit to publishing it.
Sure, there are indicators that set off alarm bells such as that whole pay-per-view debacle for its Arena events, but I feel pretty damn guilty every time I finish writing something up. Moreover, the pieces are all complete rants and opinions many of them not backed up by facts and more based on intuitions and comparisons, and for the most part, it wouldn’t be fair to compare MLG to an organization that’s been doing it better for longer, like DreamHack.
I just can’t not give them a chance. Also, I enjoy using double negatives.
MLG has this GameBattles property that’s been operating in the shadows for a while. Essentially, it’s a service that allows pubstars of console FPS games to shine their brightest. The strong point of the service is the long list of games that it supports.
MLG recently released a feedback website 1 and asked its customers (their viewers and GameBattle users) what they would like to see the company improve on. It’s divided into a few different sections, but there is a voting mechanism that ties in throughout the entire site. Users can vote on proposals submitted to the site and ideally, higher voted ideas get more consideration. Here are the top suggestions from GameBattles users from earlier this afternoon:
Notice how the top three ideas here all have actions from important people in these communities. A vice president responding directly to customers about ideas and subordinates confirming that ideas submitted to the community are being actively pursued.
Compare those three GameBattles ideas and action that MLG has taken on them to the top four ideas on the site overall:
Not only do these four threads represent the majority of votes casted on the site, but they’re all titles created and published by one Valve Software, a company that MLG has stated that they have been in talks with before to bring their games to the circuit with nothing to show for it to date.
Going through the list for conflicts, Dota 2 is the only title with a conflict when considering that Riot just threw a ton of money to MLG for the League of Legends tournament to replace Halo as the popular third tent pole in MLG’s events next to its current roster of StarCraft 2 and a three-hit combo of non-Capcom fighters (Mortal Combat IX, King of Fighters XIII, and Soul Calibur V). Publisher commitment and financial help is the biggest reason Dota 2 will play second fiddle to LoL for MLG’s attention. Valve has plenty of faults, and being careful with how they give out rights to their games to other companies is one of them.
I think that getting a commitment out of Valve is one of the most difficult things to do, especially outside of submitting a game to be listed on Steam. Valve’s culture seems to have shifted lately to become a company of thinkers and not so much a company of game developers. With Meet the Pyro finally shipped and two more games getting ready to see the light of day, I fully expect them to rest on their laurels until Q2 2013. But back to the point of this post…
Counter-Strike and Quake are the fathers of great multiplayer competitive gaming. Quake made mechanics, reflexes and situational awareness all essential skills for players to have and Counter-Strike added a higher level of strategy in addition to offering more than one way to win a round with the introduction of the de_ game mode. I would be on board with re-introducing MLG’s audience to the wonder of this style of FPS, but I’m not sure that the audience is particularly there for it.
Team Fortress 2, a free-to-play game that caters to casual players and to a ever-budding competitive scene, is Valve’s playground. TF2 is kept on its toes and many of the features that have come to Steam have been first developed for use through this game. Why wouldn’t MLG want to be a part of that legacy?
You wouldn’t need much to get TF2 going. Hell, have you seen this guy 2 shouting YAOOOO into a microphone before?
This guy is the king of TF2 when he’s not taking Instagram pictures of his cat or working. From what I can tell, he has singlehandedly kept the game afloat in times where ESEA doubted continuing supporting the game—and hell, even I gave up on it at that point, taking a break from gaming completely for awhile. He goes nuts over having any sustained number of viewers because he’s all about having fun bringing high-level TF2 to players who have no concept of what it means to play competitively.
On top of having an established community who want to see the game progress, you have the years of experience that all of the players have from different leagues. MLG has the opportunity to take the players’ feedback and really create a tournament that players will want to focus on and practice for.
Basically, what I’m saying is MLG(not a large investment) + TF2 + eXtine + BYOC LAN = a success waiting to happen. They have the votes from the folks asking for it, and since the other games might not be viable options, why wouldn’t MLG want to give TF2 a shot?
TF2 is over 11,000 votes. Halo has come out of no where and is just hundreds of votes behind it. 1.6 and Dota 2 are in third and fourth place on the website. Still no official MLG response.