Buried in the news about the tournament integration coming to League of Legends is an incredible quote from Dustin Beck, the VP of eSports at Riot Games. I think it says something vital about PC gaming today.
In the release, Dustin says that “eSports is the most important aspect of the success and rapid growth of League of Legends...”
That’s incredible. League of Legends is one of those ridiculous stories that emerges out of PC gaming every year - where a game grows rapidly, develops its own subculture and community, accelerates, and suddenly becomes a phenomenon. Think Dota, or World of Warcraft, or Minecraft. Maybe tomorrow it will be DayZ, or Planetside 2, or something else entirely that takes over the planet. What each of those games are, or will be is a) brilliant and b) something you’re desperate to share.
Why does eSports matter? It’s because it lets people share and communicate. eSports lets people watch and understand the game at its very best: with great players, and, as importantly, great casters, players get to see the intricacies and balance exposed at the very highest levels of play. eSports is simply the best advert for a game. And it’s an advert players can share.
I think that says a lot about where the PC is, and where it’s going right now. eSports is a large proportion of the audience for streaming video online, but it’s not exclusive. Visit twitch.tv or own3d.tv and you’ll see players streaming Minecraft, or World of Warcraft, or DayZ or anything inbetween. Great personalities and great situations make for great entertainment - the games themselves feel like vehicles for shared experiences. That we can do this so easily, and it has such an impact is something we as a platform, should be very proud of.
What staggers me, sometimes, is the obliviousness of the 'major' publishers, who makes games that are designed to be competitive, to the importance of eSports - when it so clearly has such a vast impact on the success and longevity on their games. Think Battlefield, or Call of Duty, or racing and sports sims. All games that are meant to be played competitively, but have no real support for streaming, spectator modes, or anything else the scene needs. Ridiculous, really.