Friday, 24 February 2012

What is The Point of Esports Journalism?

The perceived purpose of general journalism is to inform and educate people about the news.  For sports coverage, the goal is largely the same but with obviously different subject matter.  You might assume that esports journalism should be the same, and it should.

So why do we so often receive evangelical pieces about how awesome esports is, aimed at an apathetic or straight-up antagonistic audience?  In the past ten years i have seen dozens of such pieces - i even read some of them - and they all seem to serve the same purpose: look how awesome competitive gaming is.  The latest attempt from Slasher (a serial offender) is no different and has so far been met with the same level of "meh" that all the rest have been.

Lets be clear: Slasher is generally a good guy, and his heart is in the right place.  Getting a "real job" with a mainstream gaming website is something he should be rightfully proud of.  But he of all people should know that preaching to the mainstream audience is waste of time and effort on several levels.  Firstly, they don't care.  Look at the comments:

"No. Sorry. I've tried watching people play videogames on TV before and it is lame"

"I don't know anyone, anywhere, who watches the matches, the ones I have watched are boring..."

Secondly, trying to spread the good news about esports might seem like a venerable goal, but when do we get to the point where we say fuck it: they don't want us and we don't need them?  For me, that came a long time ago.  We absolutely don't need them.  Why not concentrate on improving what we have?  Instead of looking out to a hostile world, why not try looking inwards and fixing the problems we already have?  That makes a lot more sense to me.

Slasher has been around as long as i can remember; he should know all of this.   If i didn't know better i might even think he was just doing it for the paycheck (they are highly sought after in esports journalism, that wasn't a dig).  If he genuinely thinks he can convert people to some kind of esports crusade, well, more fool him.  I just hope his next article for Gamespot isn't so horrendously fluffy.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Hypewatch Returns

I guess it's been a while, hopefully this one speaks for itself:

"However, rather than go through extensive fanfare we will simply announce them one at a time: Thursday, Friday and Saturday."

Thank-you Complexity, for not making extensive fanfare over the course of sev... uh, wait, what?

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

No crowd, no journalists, no viewers?

I went to bed late last night wondering if maybe i do want the MLG thing to succeed after all.  As much as i can't afford to pay for it, a sustainable income is something that esports has needed for many years.  If this works, might it be an important step forward - albeit with a few necessary adjustments (i.e. the price).  Then again, other leagues have done just fine without pay-per-view.  Look at ESL and IPL, for example.

Then, i started rewatching Batman Begins and went to sleep.

Then, i woke up and saw this poll:

If people follow through with this (and that 2,300 is quite a large sample by esports standards), MLG might very well regret their decision, regardless of what i think.  Are people finally wising up to the fact that MLG is nothing but spin and flashing lights?  More likely they're just put off by the high price, but sometimes the ends justify the means.

The post mentioned in the second poll can be found here.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Pay Per View: All-in

Leave it to Affentod to summarise MLG's decision to go pay-per-view so succinctly.

It's a secret that everyone with even the slightest insider knowledge knows: MLG is not what it's cracked up to be, financially speaking.  But rather than risk libel action or discuss things i don't pretend to fully understand, i'm going to run some simple numbers.

You see, MLG's pay-per-view scheme might have been inevitable, it might be controversial, but it certainly is not a reasonable investment for someone like me.  $20 for a single event works out at about £12.75 GBP.  For the same amount, i can subscribe to five Sky Sports channels for a month.  Even if i just want to watch football, that's just obviously better value for money.  If you want to claim MLG is a one-off showcase event, well, firstly, i think that's a flawed system to begin with but that's another issue.  Secondly, is it a big enough showcase event to be worth the money?  Having seen every MLG event since they started the PC Circuit with WoW, i'm insulted by own question.  It would take a significant improvement in production values and commentator quality to be worthwhile (part of me just blanches at the thought of paying $20 to listen to Tastosis yell "Ohhhhh!" a lot).

Okay, maybe comparing it to something as well established as Sky Sports isn't fair.  Lets look at something closer to home: GSL.  For $24.99 i can watch an entire season, with arguably better players and far more matches, spread across an entire month.  For $5 more than MLG is charging for a single weekend, i can watch a whole month of high level Starcraft?  There will be people who are willing and able to pay for both, sure, but that's not the point.  At least GSL lets my broke-ass watch bad quality for free, MLG won't even let me do that at their Winter Arena.

Even if i had the money to spare, MLG has placed itself a long way down my list of priorities.  If i was going to put my money into esports it would be as far from MLG as i could put it.  This is yet another gamble, and eventually MLG will surely run out of chips.  If they don't pull this off - and previous form isn't great - the backlash that is so deserved might finally begin.  The hype will be seen for what it is.  Where are the non-American events that were not quite promised, Sundance?  Where is the GotFrag revival that was not quite promised?  MLG might really be going all-in with this, and if consumer uptake isn't good enough, the cost of the event could break the bank.