Tuesday, May 24, 2016

CAN OVERWATCH BE BLIZZARDS NEXT BIG ESPORT?





Overwatch, Blizzards new IP, is coming out in a couple of days and with this new IP comes a ton of questions. Will it it be successful? Will it stay relevant for a long time? But even more interesting, will it be Blizzards next 'Titan' eSport?(Pun intended)

Now when I say “Titan eSport” I am referring to big games like League of Legends, CS:GO, & Dota 2, These games have created a space in eSports that is nothing short of miraculous. We now have multiple tournaments a year with prize pools over a million dollars. But what makes these games so gigantic in the eSport scene over other games? Can Overwatch meet the same criteria? Let's break it down the best we can.

What makes a game an eSport success?

  • Tons of players.
This might seem super obvious too some but one thing that most of these major games have are a huge player base. Simply put, the more people that play your game the better chance you can obtain a larger audience for tournaments. CS:GO, LoL, & Dota 2 all have massive player bases.
  • Watchability
If it is not fun to watch than you are not going to have a big audience. No audience, no money. When games like CS:GO and League have no tournaments going on they are still the top 2-3 games on Twitch. This is because they are super watchable. Its no coincidence that Dota 2, LoL, and CS:GO are all top 3-4 games on Twitch at all times but also have some of the biggest scenes in eSports.
  • A supportive company
If the company that developed your game doesn't support the games eSport scene than you might as well pack it up. Promoting tournamentson the games main website, having in game rewards for watching, and all that jazz is the best marketing tool for any tournament. Riot and League of Legends is one of the best examples of this.





What does Overwatch have going for it when it comes to eSports?


Hype


Right now Overwatch (or Overhyped to some) is getting a ton of traction. People are super excited for a new IP coming from their beloved Blizzard. There are already eSport organizations that have fully invested in pros from other similar games to represent them in Overwatch. Cloud 9, Liquid, Tempo Storm, and Luminosity Gaming to name a few. And on top of all that there are already tournaments with 5 figure prize pools (in USD) going on and the game isn't even out yet.


FPS Genre


The FPS genre has always been one of the easiest on the eyes when it came to eSports. Like basketball and hockey the FPS genre is super easy to understand and get invested in even if you don't necessarily play the game. This is one of the biggest reasons CS:GO has blown up,simplicity at its core. If somebody who doesn't play your game can get addicted to watching your tournaments than you have a bright future in eSports.


Blizzard


From SC2 in its hay day to Heroes of the Storm now, Blizzard has always supported their games in eSports. Are they the best at it? No, but there better than most. They have tons of money to put into it, they definitely understand how much money can be made from it, and I personally still think they are mad they never pulled the trigger on Dota back in the day and now see how big it has become. Look at Heroes of the Storm.The game isn't watched much on Twitch, has a medium to small player base, and is kind of the laughing stock of the Moba Community. But that didn't stop Blizzard from pushing the eSport scene so much to the point it got on ESPN 3 and created a giant College scholarship program out of it. I remember even seeing Heroes of the Storm advertising on the coach of Manny Pacquiao during the Mayweather fight, one of the most hyped boxing fights of all time.





What about the cons?

  • Gimmicky
Sometimes I forget that it is even an FPS when watching this game. Is that necessarily a bad thing? No but it can definitely negatively affect it as a competitive eSport. The reason I say this is with gimmicks comes RNG. RNG is fine to an extent but if there is too much of it people will stop respecting the high skill version of the game. CS:GO might have some luck to it but there's really no gimmicks. You buy a gun and with that gun comes X damage with Y spray pattern. Now go out and kill people with it. Where as Overwatch has heroes, spells, and flying arrows that bounce around the walls all in an FPS Objective based game. This can possibly hurt the competitive scene if it gets to gimmicky.

  • Respawn
I know other FPS games have made themselves a successful eSport while also being respawn. Quake, Halo, and Unreal Tournament to name a few. But these games were never 'Titan eSports'. The thing that makes the biggest FPS in the scene, CS:GO, so thrilling is the fact that you have one life to make a big play, make it or lose the round. Getting a triple kill or quad kill just gets everybody so hyped because of how impactful it truly is in a single-life based FPS. When somebody lands a double or triple kill in Overwatch it almost feels...expected. If you don't clean 4-5 people out with a McCree ultimate your just bad. It's almost more impressive to see somebody counter the McCree ultimate than it is to see somebody land a quad kill with it. This scares me because these hyped moments are what gets everybody out of their chairs and invested into the game and I am not sure if respawn is the best platform to create those moments.
  • Viewership
As I said before, viewership is key in creating a big eSport scene for your game. If it's not easy on the eyes than who is going to watch the tournaments besides the dedicated few. You need to attract people who don't even own the game and get them invested within seconds or they will turn the stream off and go watch something else. When Overwatch was in open beta recently it did alright in viewership on Twitch but one pattern I noticed was it was mostly 1 guy carrying it all. People like Lirik, TimTheTatman, and some League streamers all carried like 80% of the viewership. What is wrong with this? Well Lirik, Tim, and these LoL pros are probably not going to be streaming Overwatch as their main game after a couple weeks past release, maybe sooner. So where do all their viewers go? Maybe a portion loved the game so much they find a new streamer to watch but most follow Lirik and them to whatever they play next. This goes to show that a lot of these people might not have necessarily been in that section for the game itself but rather the people streaming it. Games like CS:GO and League are spread way more evenly between the streamers. Yea somebody like Summit can have 14k out of the 150k but that's only 10% of the viewership as the top streamer. People are in that section for the game not the persons per say.


Result: Will Overwatch be a successful eSport and if so how big will it get?
Absolutely and I am just not sure. I personally think the hype this game has right now will give it a major head start and I can totally see this game having a fun eSport scene. Will it compete with League and CS:GO? Only time will tell. I for one am super excited to watch it all unfold and am rooting for it to succeed.


Your Opinion!!!
Let me know what you think about Overwatch and its future in eSports! I am sure I didn't touch on a ton of points that you might consider major pros or cons for this game. Can this game be Blizzards next Starcraft 2? Will you be playing Overwatch? Will you be watching people stream it?

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