The sixth episode of the podcast is out. I talk about the other side of the streaming IP rights coin–the rights of game publishers/developers. The inspiration for this episode came from a mini-interview that Esports In A Nutshell conducted with well-known esports lawyer Bryce Blum, specifically stemming from Blum’s answer to a question about the future of spectator modes in games. He pivoted to SpectateFaker, which shouldn’t be the context this issue is framed in.
Now, I’m not a lawyer, but I think there’s a little balance to be struck in looking at the wholly corporate perspective of reclaiming revenue generated–in whole or in part–by that corporation’s intellectual property. Don’t worry, I don’t attack the beggars or sellouts that stream. It’s all about exploring the potential company line.
Smash 4 producer Masahiro Sakurai announced he would be taking “an extended vacation” in a recent edition of his long-running Famitsu column, according to translators at Source Gaming. Please read the whole translation there, while I have linked two paragraphs, there’s plenty more in the original post that you should read.
At long last, the development on Smash for has ended!! To all of the staff who were involved in this project, thank you for all your hard work. To all who supported and followed the game and its development, thank you so very much. Personally, I’m happy I can finally take an extended vacation.
Going through the entire post, however, I ran across a larger theme for the article, which could be summed up as Sakurai’s reluctance to deviate from the tent pole elements of Super Smash Bros as a franchise. This next passage gave me the weirdest realization about casually accessible games becoming serious esports by its player-base’s sheer will:
What [the relatively high average playtime] means is that the game can wear you out pretty quickly every time you play. If you turn on items and visit a bunch of different stages while playing with a group, things will unfold differently every time, so there aren’t a lot of problems. However, there are a lot of people who enjoy serious matches, and in order to win, they’ll narrow down the number of fighters that can be used, and that diminishes some of the breadth of the game.
This sets up Sakurai’s explanation for how he has approached designing the game from the original releases to the most recent batch of DLC characters—including a certain witch—which is to say, he can’t be held responsible for what tournament organizers and theory crafters do to restrict the ruleset to make Smash 4 a fair game in the competitive scene.
There are other tidbits in there not just about stereotypical players of the greater competitive scene but more aspects of Smash 4 that have been even mildly controversial. Important Sakurai points to be on the lookout for include:
- His insinuation that players who play only one game mode are not fans of the game
- An assertion that including new fighters in the game is a serious branding issue
- His claim that post-launch DLC fighters are intended to be more powerful by design
- And more!
If I come back to Source Gaming repeatedly in the future, I’ll definitely be contributing to Source Gaming’s Patreon. If you read news from them on the regular, you should probably start pitching in, even if it’s just a little bit. The alternative is display advertisements… which ends up not really being an alternative at all.
This post is a response to Blizzard, Warcraft, and the future of WoW eSports and originally appeared on Medium.
World of Warcraft revenues are still massively important to Activision Blizzard, so it’s kind of amazing that they aren’t giving the MMO the attention that, say, Diablo 3 has received since the implementation of the seasonal content and the nuking of the auction house.
I don’t know anything about World of Warcraft, but every year or so I play the trial mode to level 10. After the week long free trial, I conclude that I could never put eough time into the game that justifies actually spending money on it—especially when I already pay to play an MMO—and uninstall the trial client. I’m not the ideal WoW player, I get that, but I imagine that if I had put a few years of time into the game, I’d feel very differently.
I recently saw a Guild Wars 2 competitive match and did a little looking into how that game treats its competitive mode. I learned about a serious differentiator that made a ton of sense and I wonder if it could affect some positive change in the World of Warcraft scene.
A segregated competitive mode for WoW?
As I understand it, the competitive matchmaking system exists outside of the proper MMO world. Everything exists in a balanced state, from skill trees to equipment options and it allows for many of the builds present in the MMO-side of the game to be utilized in the competitive arena matches. Now, to apply that sort of segregation to WoW might ultimately make its arena match-ups simpler by restricting outfitting to a subset of instantly-available, balanced items compared to WoW’s current grinding of end-game content
Think about what breaking the competitive game mode away from requiring the open world aspect of WoW means:
- Competitive PVP balancing doesn’t have to impact the greater game world—that is, any PVE content and any MMO-based PVP content
- Full access to competitive PVP equipment so that having competitive gear in matches doesn’t require end-game grinding, but requires intelligent decisions
- Simplifying class skill trees and outfitting options equalizes the importance of team composition and player ability in lower tiers of competition
Would something like that ever work for World of Warcraft esports?
Or is the current state of WoW esports just a result of a lack of good players among a shrinking greater player base?