Wednesday saw Blizzard engage in an AMA post-mortem of their recently-concluded global StarCraft 2 tournament. Key eSports figures from the company answered questions about WCS Season 1, the future of the competition, and their belief in eSports as a “community building platform”.
More than one Redditor referenced this 2012 press conference, in which Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime claimed that StarCraft 2 was “designed with eSports in mind”. If that’s so, they asked, why did it take the game’s creators two good release years to get seriously involved with the WCS?
“I think it's not fair to say we weren't involved with the community or eSports,” replied senior eSports manager Kim Phan. “We were highly involved from the launch of StarCraft 2 in working directly with the tournament organizers like GOMTV, MLG, ESL, DreamHack, etc...”
In which case, the question becomes: why something quite so involved as the WCS? Why now?
“eSports at Blizzard is not viewed as a primary revenue driver for the company and we've said many times that we view it as community building platform,” said Phan. “We've become more involved because we want to help eSports grow.
“One of the primary reasons we created WCS was to put a unifying structure around major StarCraft II competition happening across the world. All of the major competitions would be tied into that regular league competition in a cohesive way so as fans, we could easily see how everything ties together and track how our favorite players are doing.
“Right now the focus for Blizzard eSports is ensuring a smooth transition for NASL in Season 2 of WCS America, and planning for the upcoming season finals,” he added. “We've been able to make some changes like more consistency in the map pool and better integration into the ladder of the WCS map pool.”
Phan wouldn’t be drawn on specifics in regard to Blizzard’s plans for the currently-unannounced WCS 2014, but suggested that next year’s event would see the company open up conversation with fans and pros like never before.
“We'll need to sit down with all partners and get on the same page first as to what improvements and changes we'll want to implement next year,” he said.
“We’d still like to continue improving our communication to the players, teams, and community. There are always ways to improve and that’s why we do AMA’s like this to get feedback.”
What do you think Blizzard need to do to match the likes of Riot for eSport support? eSupport? Ugh, nobody use that.