Is "Chasing E-sports" The New "Chasing WoW"?

Jason Winter
By Jason Winter, News Editor

We talked about this a little bit in the last F2P Cast, but everyone wants to be an e-sport now. Firefall, PlanetSide 2, every flippin' MOBA... they all want to be the next League of Legends and draw millions of players to their virtual arenas.

Hey, haven't we seen this before?

Remember when every game wanted to be World of Warcraft, or, more specifically, the “WoW Killer”? If WoW could draw 10+ million players, all we need to do is make our game just like it (with minor, but surely totally awesome, tweaks), and it'll be fantastic! The money will roll in!

How did that work for ya?

We're just now starting to pull out of that non-creative nosedive with general MMO design, but I think we're seeing something similar these days, with so many games clamoring for that e-sports presence that only a scant few have actually managed to be successful with. On the bright side, unlike with “WoW clones,” e-sport-friendly games are generally decent enough games to start with, and their entire financial success (probably) doesn't hinge on them drawing millions of viewers for their World Championships.

Still, as much as we've been through with other games, it's hardly wrong for us to roll our eyes and meet any such announcements of an “e-sport focus” with some skepticism. Sony Online Entertainment has been pushing for it with PlanetSide 2 for some time, with their agreement with MLG and their recent announcement of Battle Islands, which they insist are not just e-sports fodder.

Firefall's another example of a game that, like PS2, is much more than just a team-based PvP shooter, a notion that Red 5 studios has been adamant about promoting, but now they're hosting tournaments and, based on what they showed off at last year's PAX Prime, they've got a lot of hope for the game's e-sport marketability. Again, what's the focus? Is it this rather cool and unique-looking PvE shooter, with innovative crafting and the feeling of fighting back the relentless hordes, or is it fairly typical, seen-it-a-million-times PvP arenas?

Really, companies are free to pursue whatever path they want with their games, and if they want to promote e-sports, good for them. Maybe they're just trying to draw the hardcore tournament/e-sport crowd the same way another MMO tries to draw hardcore raiders or crafters or role-players as a subset of their larger player base. It's just another way to play.

And someday, someone might actually manage to “break through” the way League of Legends and StarCraft (the latter mostly in South Korea) have done. But every game does have a limited budget and scope, and I hope they aren't blown away in the attempt to chase an unrealistic dream.

For a great treatise on why e-sports might or might not ever be huge in America, check out this video from the PBS Idea Channel on YouTube.

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About the Author

Jason Winter
Jason Winter, News Editor

Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

More Stories by Jason Winter

Discussion (26)

TRB 10 years ago
Nahh. More like "chasing LoL" Soooo many MOBAs coming out.

Appartenant 10 years ago
I hate how you put Dota 2 in here. Dota has been around a lot longer than that garbage game LoL.

lallaallal 10 years ago

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KaiserGali 10 years ago
Same as korea,many games tried to make their own e-sports league, until they realized starcraft will crush anyone who tried too. Best bet istoo just make just one entity to manage all of the e-sports.

Jimy 10 years ago
this is just silly and a stupid post to an extent. Yer there are alot of MOBA games coming out but really, only dota will be a true e-sports worthy game. LoL is pay to win (having to buy champions among other things) to an extent. HoN, well thats just HoN enough said. Dota how ever will be the king of MOBA games in the esports scene. The skill cap for LoL isn't high enough nor is it indepth enough. How ever I still think LoL will top out with most players at the end but it won't really have an esports side of it.

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Cacalips 10 years ago
What people do not understand is that this is just a marketing ploy, like going F2P. It is just to slap this status on to support the few that pay and are super addicted. Look at League of LEgends. Considred one of the cartooniest child like games, has huge problems, but instead of investing in fixing them, they just hold real life events. This generates more buzz than actual balance, and game play issues. It is bottom line cash. You see turds play on a big screen and you aspire to one day do the same. Problem is, you never will. You will pay till you die and never get to that point. If the numbers are true, 3 million subsribers...Divided by 2 teams of 5 people (10 total), you have .00001 chance of E-sporting. OTherwise you are just buying hugging the back end of the human centipede as every is given the command to poop. Enjoy E-sporting. Nothing but a joke.

Mystika 10 years ago
Not all of those publishers 'want' their game to be an e-sport, it just happens because the game is popular and it has the groundwork laid to become one. Speaking of "MOBAs", apart from Dota 2 (which became an e-sport pretty much from the get go due to the original also being an e-sport as well as debuting with a tournament), barely any of them are trying to reach that e-sport glory, and are more intent on trying to cash in on that genre's popularity, at least for the upcoming ones and or ones that have been released this year.

reaply 10 years ago
Or maybe people just like the genre and want benefits.

TheGamer 10 years ago
I don't see this go well.
Think for a moment, if every games that is released is going to be "e-sport focused", there isn't much of a market for them.If we became saturated with e-sports tittles, it would be nuts.Also, i don't think that there is a huge "hardcore tournaments pro's" gamers out there, most people just play for fun, not for cash.So, it could be that in the future we would have LOADS of pro gamers - even more than casuals because of the shift of direction.I don't think this is a good idea for business if you think about it.

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Razer 10 years ago
Many companies will try and few will succeed at even gathering competitive following. Getting the more serious part of the competitive community to accept a game is a test of the publisher's ability to balance the game while still maintaining a profitable business model at the same time. Something that F2P games are rarely known for.

Even if you're like me and don't give two flying sh_ts (would you like to buy a vowel?) about e-sports, this new trend could be beneficial to F2P games as a whole. It will force publishers to be much more serious about making fair and balanced games because pay2win is not compatible with e-sports.

VooDs 10 years ago
This is completely inaccurate and just a troll post. The E-Sport is not the GAME but the GENRE. In the world of FPS games cod is dominant because there is not many good FPS games out atm, and really none w/ competitive edge. That leaves SC2, Dota, and LoL to make huge bank rolls from the size of the E-Sport community.

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Sakee 10 years ago
While I agree on the "e-sport focus" being too maintstream - however MOBAs need that kind of mindset in the development stage as well as they are extremly sensitive on balance issues.

As for games striding off a bit and offering both PVE and PVP functions while they still market themselves as PVP and e-sport focused games - It's not that much of a bad thing and for example it was prefectly fine for Dragon Nest.

They held several torunaments in Korea and China which were pretty popular despite DN having it's own balance issues when it comes to their gameplay.

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