eSports, and Catering to the pro players

This was an interesting post spun out of a comment made by Starcraft II’s lead designer at Blizzcon last weekend. He said that promoting the game as an eSport was one of their main goals and they cut some content and toned down graphics to make sure it would run as fast as possible for professional gaming.

To me, this highlights the risks in playing and loving a genre which is primarily aimed at some other type of player. If you love the competitive eSport side of SC2 then you’ll look at the trade-off between content and competitive play and see it as reasonable. If you have no interest in that side of the game, then you might feel gypped. Although, to be fair, they are working on free extras such as the DotA mod, so it isn’t all eSport all the time.

But this is part of the reason why I was concerned when I heard that PvP arenas were part of the Diablo 3 plans. I’ve never had the slightest interest in engaging in Diablolique PvP so darned if I want Blizzard spending too much effort in balancing classes for PvP or presenting the game as an eSport.

I am somewhat mollified by the comment in the same interview as above where he says that the designers made a conscious decision not to make PvP the centerpiece of D3.

“With Diablo III, if we made it viable for an e-sport, it would destroy the game”

Despite this, we do also know that there will be ranked team PvP  battles, with points awarded that feed into achievements and ‘other rewards’. But I’m still feeling shocked (and maybe a bit betrayed)  that turning one of the archetypal PvE games into an eSport was even on the agenda. I wonder how much content they had to cut to do that.

Do you like playing a game that has genuine pros playing it too?

Despite all that, there is something appealing about knowing that you are playing a game which has hardcore players practically making a living (or at least a nice bonus) out of playing it.

It underlines the “easy to play, difficult to master” mantra. It affects whether players think it’s worth trying to master the game – for a lot of people, knowing that world class opponents are waiting if they do is one of the lures.

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