A few suggestions for future editions of the EMEM.

This post is a response to Esports Market Ecosystem Map — January 2016 and originally appeared on Medium.

A few suggestions for future editions of the EMEM:

  • “In-Game Items Economy” should simply be called “Gambling” to avoid confusion with API-based services and… well… gambling. Additionally, I feel that it should be further scruitinized to gambling sites that allow for underage gambling and those that verify their users’ ages. Maybe it could be split between “Gambling” and “Illegal Gambling” for good measure.
  • Move Reddit from the “Reporting” category to a new category named “Authoritative Shitposting.” Pretty straightforward. Especially since Reddit mods for popular subreddits like to follow their cold, dark hearts and confidential conversations with publishers instead of adjuicating content based on a subreddit’s rules. (Okay, fine, not all subreddit moderators are horrible people, but they do some pretty dumb things in the name of “community management.”)
  • The list is missing fighting games. When the final rounds of a grassroots tournament for a fifteen year old game draws about 100k concurrent viewers on (nearly) a monthly basis, it’s time to start including it in a top tier. Also Capcom called, and it wanted me to ask you if you thought Street Fighter V was chopped liver. And while you’re at it, consider adding Shoryuken to the “Reporting” category.
  • Mobile games aren’t so much about competition, they’re about profitability. If Vainglory makes the cut as a ‘game to watch’ on your chart, I’m pretty sure you’re missing at least ten other more profitable properties that could reasonably claim to be a realistic, viable top-tier title in the mobile world. Clash of Clans comes to mind before Vainglory does. Furthermore, Vainglory’s not even listed in the Top Free Games on the App Store at the moment. There’s an officially licensed Yahtzee app that is listed at 27th on the Top Grossing Games chart right now; Vainglory is at 132nd.

ESPN began reporting on esports.

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 08.45.45 (2)

A couple of years ago, I would have probably told you that the above image would never happen. I never thought that I would see esports anywhere near the navigation bar on ESPN’s website.

But it’s there. I imagine that I’ll probably be able to move that menu item to the actual bar itself sooner or later.

I understand that ESPN is supposedly the end-all, be-all of sports and various competition, and I also get that there are a lot of folks that hold the almighty ‘four letter’ in disdain… but I can’t help feeling optimistic about its launch. More optimistic than I’ve been about esports in general since I’ve come off the high from my trip to EVO this past year.

The launch, at face value

I figured that 2016 was going to be a huge step up for esports, as a lot of other folks have, but the launch of esports coverage on ESPN has got to be the first positive step for the industry this year.

As far as starting talent goes, Slasher has come back after his departure from TheScore. While he is lending his unique expertise to the venture and appears in the first video rundowns the section has published, I think that his former TheScore colleague at Fionn is the bigger get, here. The founding editor of the section is Darin Kwilinski, formerly a project manager at Azubu.

Between the three of them, they seem to have started on the right foot, even if Slasher posted a personal retrospective on the day the site went public. Of course, it’s not simple three people being given the ESPN name to carry into esports; there seems to be an effort to recruit plenty of freelance talent including popular content creators affiliated with other networks and news sites like Emily Rand of The Score and veteran Smash commentator Prog.

These two names published expert pieces on their respective scenes to help launch the website. Emily’s overview of the LPL offseason activity and Prog’s state of Smash piece in the context of this weekend’s Genesis 3 Smash event are great examples of the content that can thrive on ESPN — especially if they’re optioned into video stories, like how certain segments on SportsCenter end up taking up a five-ish minute block of featured airtime in the middle of the live rundown of the days sports news.

There’s a lot of potential in the type of content that the esports section can produce once they build out a stable of broadcastable talent. Slasher can perhaps run a show and he’s done that in the past during his stint at MLG, but having him read off of a teleprompter in front of a green screen is not the broadcastable feature clips you’re ever hoping to put on the air. Now, perhaps I’m being a bit rough of Slasher and that’s certainly possible here, since I am absolutely not deserving to be on broadcast television in any context whatsoever, but I think that his first performance left a bit to be desired. Then again, it’s his first time in front of a camera in God knows how long, so I’m willing to write it all off as relearning how to act in front of a camera.

ESPN’s perpetual content machine

WatchESPN is a tremendous value for ESPN as a whole. It exists as a value-add for any content that they want ot broadcast over it. From additional camera angles to behind the scenes content, the streams that are available for sports broadcasts that ESPN bid for are often more interesting than watching the main stream.

With the recent College Football Playoff final, as with many other broadcasts, watching the game online required logging into a cable TV provider’s web services to authorize watching any given broadcast online. However, not every broadcast option offered on WatchESPN required a cable TV subscription to watch.

One of those options was a feed from the Replay Booth with several producers combing through the game play-by-play, as it was transpiring, with the purpose of looking for video they could use for content later. Four men pouring over footage making production notes out loud was better than listening to two guys talk about what I just saw. This type of content can shine on ESPN, given time and the hope that whoever is in charge doesn’t screw this up.

Competitive competitor competing competitively

Will ESPN ever get that video drop from the stadium floor at this year’s LCS Worlds? Will they run their own commentary between matches or report on games in other leagues?

If the answer to those questions is no, then I don’t see how ESPN matures into anything other than the random vanity exercise it is as this point. Regardless, it’s still an incredible gesture of good faith from a media conglomerate that doesn’t need to prove anything to start mattering.

At the same time, it’s too early to assume and judge success or failure when ESPN’s esports coverage hasn’t realized its full potential. There’s so many ways that the content ESPN typically produces could be applied to esports, and vice versa.

Let’s see what they’re starting out with and come back to this discussion at the end of spring.

Weekend summary rant for the #illuminati Slack: for 26 January 2015.

I’m not sure why I ranted the way that I did, but I can attribute the spark for this series of rants to a #profellow posting a link to a DailyDot story about the new flags in the LCS studio. The rest, is history nonsense.

what they should do is get a better live producer so they can yell at their camera operators for getting shit shots all of the fucking time and their stage manager for not framing the TV stage properly to the rest of the fucking arena
I was expecting to be astounded at riot’s production
holy shit, that PTL show is basically sportscenter with one too many opinionated morons
i mean, sjokz, or however you spell her handle, is the most professional personality they had on PTL and she got fucking trampled by the two other guys circlejerking their opinions and killing the flow of the broadcast

also, LEL MLG trying as hard as they could to bring cod coverage style to csgo
they could have piped in more of the in-game comms but probably didn’t because they weren’t in english
fucking morons
fifflooorin wasn’t the worst combo to throw it out to, though
and one of the casters had a burr up his ass the whole time trying to correct the analysts
adding eliminated competitors to the casting for the later stages of the tournament was a nice touch though

also i finished dragon age inquisition this weekend, played through as a male warrior hit level 22 after 85 hours, with the templars and exiling the gray wardens, and the ending WAS A CATERED, FANCY GODDAMN PARTY IN MY CASTLE

also boo hoo cbble is an official map according to valve
SOLUTION
TOURNEY ORGS SHOULD FUCKING GET A CLUE
AND DROP THE MAP THEMSELVES
/micdrop

Yeah, there was a lapse of activity here right after I promised a lot of activity here. Turns out my mind was considerably less vacant and available for freeform brainstorming and thinking than I thought it was—and for no reason. So now that I’ve sorted that out, time to get back on the writing train like I promised myself around the new year.

Fuck sleep. Bring back the long nights.

Some ESL numbers prompted some thoughts about balance.

Patrick Howell O’Neill wrote up a great overview of the success that was ESL’s recently-concluded IEM Katowice event. ESL claims that the four-day stop in Poland was the most watched European-based esports event to date. While the numbers in the infographic released by ESL really do tell the story of a great success, something else caught my eye and my mind sort of started doing the thing that could be called thinking.

thedailydot

IEM Katowice was highest-rated European esports event ever — Last week’s IEM World Championship and EMS One tournaments in Katowice, Poland combined to be the highest rated esports event in European history, according to numbers just released by Twitch and Turtle Entertainment, IEM’s parent company.

Do the companies that publish and support other games that are on the Intel Extreme Masters’ series see the event as a success for their game’s community? I’m sure that the viewership numbers alone are probably affirmation enough to allow the companies to pat themselves on the back for allowing their games to be included in these tournaments. The question I’m curious about: excluding the distorted prize purse of the StarCraft 2 winner-take-all event, does the level of investment that the companies put forward relatively resemble what actually goes into the community? If not, is that a big problem for the future of these games as esports or is it simply the circle of life in a twisted economically unstable sense?

I’m not exactly sure that I’m going to find nice results if I start looking. Even estimating the cost benefit of a single tournament at a community levels shows that the community puts in considerably more money than what is paid out (a tip of the hat to keekerdc for sharing an estimate). Besides, the whole bit relies on tournament organizers not completely being financially sound enough to raise money that isn’t dependent on things like contest and entry fees, which hasn’t really been the case at all, as far as I know.

In any case, more questions than opinions above, but I just felt like I needed to write that out. Link post format working? Link post format working.

Public speaking for the greater good of mankind.

Or something like that.

From what I have heard about the recent TEDx event that happened in Richmond, VA this past year, I didn’t miss a thing that was relatively mind blowing or important. And that’s fine, because apparently the organizer for the TEDx event had the gall to charge tickets for the event–something that is generally not done for TEDx events.

Richmond has this perpetual self-esteem/identity problem where it sees itself as something as cool as an Austin-like city that deserves to have a properly attended celebration of its diversity and melting pot of the arts but can’t seem to break the mold. I hate that about this city.

Sure, Richmond should aspire to not suck, but it shouldn’t do that by trying to get x amount of influential people (read: owns a business with downtown frontage and/or has significant connections) into a room to hear presentations about what sucks about Richmond and what they can do to fix it. It should just get people into a room and talk about why things are pointlessly embarrassing on a case by case basis. The goal of the discussion shouldn’t be to fix something to be more attractive, it should be to share knowledge and discover what everyone should be addressing at their own levels.

I went off on a pretty wild tangent there, but this is along the lines of what I hope to accomplish in explaining my relationship with esports and writing about all things technology on this blog at bill conference 3.

https://alpha.app.net/bcarr/post/13541913

I think I’ll have slides, because holy shit I am a fucking train wreck when it comes to talking off of the top of my head, but I’m splitting my presentation into two parts. I’m looking to give a short presentation about why I am a horrible writer and then lead into a sort of “this is what I have to deal with” comparison with the current esports scene. I also intend to interrogate whoever is there (who I assume could give less than three fucks about video games and turning it into a spectator sport) about where I should be focusing or even if I have a place in esports at all.

MLG’s backup plan for StarCraft 2.

https://alpha.app.net/bcarr/post/11531410

How weird is it that MLG is looking to get back into the SC2 scene? I guess it was going to happen at some point or another, but I would have thought the search wouldn’t have taken such a public angle.

Then again, with his heart-on-his-sleeve history of interacting with the game’s community, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised at all.

MLG has a fond place in my esports heart because it was the first real event that I made an effort to attend. SC2 was important to it over the last couple of years and being the only real American event series that makes an effort to survive has a lot to do with it. It wasn’t as important as the Korean league or the Dreamhack series, but being all things to nearly all of the English speaking community raised it up to the level of the other international successes.

This afternoon, Sundance briefly clarified his original tweet:

Now the original call makes more sense. MLG certainly has the reach and the reputation that could make it an appealing venue for an up-and-coming SC2 league based in the North American region, or even one-off events that fail to realize being able to hold multiple events.

Here’s hoping that one of the two people that actually asked Sundance for contact information over Twitter (or anyone that has his info, really) can give MLG something to put on stage that it can be proud of.

Another day, another esports scheduling crisis averted.

A short message posted to Twitter this past Tuesday could have turned the middle of next June into an interesting threesome for competitive gaming.

The announcement was regarding Major League Gaming’s Spring 2014 finale, traditionally hosted in Anaheim, CA, informally referred to as MLG Anaheim 2014. In the past, this event is one of the biggest live spectator events in esports and an event that I’ve personally attended in 2012 supporting ESFI’s on-scene coverage of the event. It was awesome.

And then, one of their European counterparts looked at their calendar.

The Dreamhack representative went on to reference this press release published in May 2012, two years in advance and also mentioned that the date was included in last year’s post-event release for Dreamhack Summer 2013.

Slasher, reporting for Gamespot, was the first to publish the story in a relatively proper context. Most notably, he made the mention that the date also conflicted with another favorite video game industry pastime—the 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo.

With hints from Twitter posts following Adam’s informal announcement, one could conclude that there would have been some backchannel discussions taking place between MLG and the Anaheim Convention Center crew, and, presumably, the publisher/partners who would be lending their games to the show to find an alternative date.

Today, only two days after the initial announcement, a revised announcement was made via the MLG executive’s Twitter account:

Not a bad turnaround for an organization that seemed to be losing favor with parts of its audience because of the company’s switching games based on business decisions. Personally, I don’t have a problem with MLG playing favorites when it comes to making money and keeping their business afloat so long as they don’t start fixing tournaments or begin catering to a younger audience for the sake of advertising dollars. It’s a business decision and they want to create some cool entertainment that a wide-sepctrum audience can watch and enjoy, and maybe even pay for.

All of this is more impressive when you consider the following, as SirScoots points out:

I don’t think that MLG simply called up the folks responsible for scheduling the Anaheim Convention Center out and politely asked for the dates they previously arranged to have changed without a legally compelling reason, unless Blizzard or another publisher was at the table with them. I could be wrong about that, but my read on the situation is MLG had to work pretty hard to change the dates for the convention center deal they made for this next summer and the public was clued in by MLG’s SVP out of a need to appeal to their potential audience that they no longer have to decide between one of the best produced events in the business and one that isn’t. It comes down to business.

Though I also would have thought that Twitter isn’t exactly the best way to publicly announce something as big of a deal as MLG Anaheim 2014. I could be wrong about that, too.

An odd way to reach out as a CEO.

So I suppose that we can assume the following:

  1. Slasher is too busy for the CEO of an important esports company.
  2. Sundance might have had an arrangement to feed exclusives directly to Slasher from the top.

Either way, isn’t this whole situation a little bit lame?