This may go under the radar of a lot of gamers, but as of today we’ve just heard that the Championship Gaming Series has shuttered the doors proclaiming itself as “an idea whose time came too early” . I wrote a brief article about the Death of the CPL earlier this year and we’re now seeing a pretty disheartening trend for the competitive video game industry.
I’ve watched a number of episodes of the CGS on G4 to see what it was all about. While it was vaguely interesting to me, unfortunately I’d have to contend that the choice of games, rules for the games, and exclusivity for league players have much to do with their demise. While many may say that E-Sports isn’t ready for prime-time, I have to disagree. If you’re as concerned about the future of E-Sports in the US as I am, read on …
Choice of Games
The biggest problem with getting video games to go mainstream in the United States is easy … pick a handful of games to focus on and stick with them. If the so-called E-Sports market was likened to pro sports in the US, we’d have fifteen different versions of Football with a new one coming out each year.
Why did Warfactory feature Quake 3 and Counter-Strike 1.6 for Warfactory 2008? After working with organizations such as ESWC and Kode5, we think that for the US gaming scene to prosper it needs to focus less on the “next hot new game” and instead concentrate on what’s important – games that people actually play competitively. This isn’t to say that CS:S doesn’t have a massive following, it does … but DOA4? Perhaps the worst possible choice for competitive play of all time.
Any organization that misses this point is going to fail. The CPL and the WSVG both fell apart because they started to worry more about “what the sponsors want to push” rather than attracting gamers. It’s not all about glitz and glamor, but more about providing a quality product.
Rules for Games
A good friend of mine who happens to be in the Video Game Video Production field said this to me … CGS has it all wrong … you CAN’T change the rules for Counter-Strike to meet the needs of a TV show. Any schmuck can run a tournament, but a good tournament is defined by its rules What this did for CS was obvious – it made the game become “luck based” and skill was no longer relevant. Get a good round from the start and it’s all over for the other team. Friends, this is Rule #1 that game designers keep in mind for game balance.
Exclusivity for Players
Like MLG, CGS locked down their players from participating in events outside of the CGS. While this may often have been relevant, but penalizing players for the equivalent of playing a game of touch football with friends ended up giving a lot of people a bad feeling. This is one thing that was ahead of its time … exclusivity. Right now it’s not a good thing to lock down gamers. We end up seeing the “same ‘ol” after a while, and other events become less fun because the top guys are no longer around.
What’s Next for E-Sports … Redux!
This year alone, I’ve helped run components of MLG, ESWC, and other events and have to say that I’ve seen quality in E-Sports. Most of these people are making money at what they do and I’m proud to say that I’ve worked with them on some major events.
What’s next for E-Sports is for many of us who are impassioned about competitive gaming to work together to host quality events, period. We don’t need lucrative TV deals … just good tournaments. GotFrag TV is doing just fine on the video front anyway, so we’ve got plenty to watch!
Here’s to hoping that we see a return to sanity in 2009!