Console E-sports, AKA ‘The Future Of Gaming’
E-sports on console exist, but they’re not as supported as they should be by developers. It’s changing, though…
Competitive e-sports are taking off, growing bigger each year and bleeding through into the world of more traditional sports. Take a look at Major League Gaming’s popularity, the ever-increasing prevalence of Barcraft (watching Starcraft 2 matchups at pubs around the world) events and the potential or the rumoured deal being struck that might see CBS airing e-sports events on television in the US.
That all points to something we’d call ‘popular’.
But it’s not new – the pro Starcraft players have been making top dollar (to some extent) in Korea (and, latterly, worldwide) for a long time now. So why are we only just starting to see elements of e-sports mentioned in console-land? Surely it’s the perfect area for it – millions of young, quick, twitch-shooting masters on the battlefields of COD and.. umm.. Battlefield, competing for more than just another prestige or dog tag. Millions of Street Fighter 3 veterans, Virtua Fighter 5 maestros or Mortal Kombat kombateers (no, really) ready to take their fights beyond just matters of a win-loss ratio.
Tournaments exist. Games are played for big bucks. You can find the videos all over the place, there are legendary players in the field. But there’s little built-in support for e-sports in console games.
But the tide is turning. Mention is made of pro-gaming – of proper competitive play – in the likes of Black Ops 2, which will specifically offer support for those wanting to make competitive tournaments around the game. Good. Clan support is a step in the right direction, though it’s an older concept and pretty much par for the course these days. Amateur tournaments are another thing – something to be encouraged, reported on, celebrated and generally just paid attention to. Pro tournaments are around – there’s the likes of the EGL, or something like Vanity eSports showing the way for us all, but we still need more. We need MLG to cover more console games.
But we need the developers to play along too, mainly by actually bothering to fix things. Go back to an older, forgotten Call Of Duty game. Still played online by thousands, but broken to the point of just not being fun unless you yourself have hacked the crap out of it too. Maintain support – balance and tweak through updates, patches and fixes – and keep people interested. Refine. Keep it relevant. Keep them playing. Slow the inevitable rush to the Next Big Thing. Destroy democracy. Install puppet dictators. Go off-topic.
When we start showing developers that e-sports are interesting to us in console gaming, maybe they’ll start paying more attention to it, building in more tools for it and helping to keep their games actually fixed, patched and not borked like so many CODs past. Slowly, but surely, they already are.
Though we’re probably some ways off from seeing Black Ops 2 PS3 matches broadcast live on Grandstand, or whatever sports coverage the BBC can afford to bother with these days.