Say the words “WoW killer” to a bunch of MMORPG players in 2017 and you’re bound to get eyerolls, for good reason: Even though we’ve been watching over the last decade as game after game chased the title, most folks don’t really believe that any MMORPG will ever truly “kill” World of Warcraft except possibly WoW itself, however slowly. Globally oriented, e-sports-centric games like MOBAs and shooters have long since surpassed the MMORPG market anyway, beating them at their own community game.
What I didn’t really expect to ever see was a game that killed the “WoW killers,” and that’s exactly what PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is doing. Oh, League of Legends, Dota 2, and CS:GO aren’t dead, and they’re not going to roll over and give up so easily, not when they’re still making money hand-over-fist (just a little bit less than before). But I have to admit that I didn’t see this coming. Battle royale is an old game type, and PUBG isn’t even the first to try to revivify it. I never expected this kind of dramatic sea change in online gaming. We’re watching a huge shift happening right before our eyes, and bizarrely enough, Daybreak is partly responsible.
Is PUBG a “WoW killer killer”? Is PUBG really worthy of all the fuss, or are people just sick of the old-school MOBA and shooter lineup?
In promotional materials associated with its new paid “Esports Scoreboard,” gaming anaylsis firm SuperData – known best to our audience for its monthly revenue charts – has declared that “the esports market has finally hit the mainstream.” Though the associated marketing report is paywalled, some of the public statistics in the reveal are actually of interest.
For example, the company runs down the top 10 e-sports games by viewership, with League of Legends coming in at the top as of August. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which recently blasted past 2M concurrent players and 15M sales, clocked in at #2, but expect that to rise in future editions as the game’s exploded even more since then. The firm argues that PUBG, unlike many of the MOBAs and shooters dominating the rankings, “stands out from competitors because players spend most of their time in stealth mode instead of intense shootuts, giving streamers time to interact with their viewers.”
Blizzard’s had a strong showing, too, with Hearthstone, Overwatch, and StarCraft II all in the top ten; SuperData notes that Overwatch in particular will benefit from the offseason of Dota 2 and LoL.
If you were wondering what Daybreak is up to as we have been, wonder no more: It’s been putting together a pro league for H1Z1, which it is now characterizing as a “groundbreaking survival battle royale game.”
“Daybreak Games has partnered with Twin Galaxies, whose new Pro League Division will establish the H1Z1 Pro League for Daybreak’s fast-paced, last-man-standing game, H1Z1. The goal of the league is to create a sustainable esports ecosystem in partnership with teams for the benefit of H1Z1 players, viewers, and League partners. Focused on a ‘player-first’ approach, the H1Z1 Pro League will include a guaranteed player minimum salary, team owner and player representation on the governance committee, along with a comprehensive Player Bill of Rights and a well-defined revenue sharing model. The H1Z1 Pro League will launch its inaugural season in early 2018.”
The studio says it’ll form the league around 15 teams of 5 players that will come together in live 75-person matches over two 10-week splits next year. “There will be no fees or buy-in costs for teams to take part in the league,” Daybreak notes, “and teams will be selected through an application process that will begin this fall.”
Nielsen has a massive “fan report” out this week dubbed The E-Sports Playbook, covering audiences in the US, UK, Germany, and France and focusing on e-sports fans as a market. There’s a massive breakdown of demographics that will suprise nobody, like the fact that millennial men are the core audience for watching e-sports, and they aren’t into actual sports or TV.
One of the more interesting surveys included covers whether fans believe e-sports are real sports (over 50% do) and whether they think it belongs in the Olympics (less than a third do). I thought we’d replicate the latter part of the survey for today’s Leaderboard. Knowing that e-sports are already being included in multiple sporting games in Asia, and given Nielsen’s clear lean toward its being an inevitability, what do you think?
Here is a lesson that we should all take to heart: Smack talk is one thing, actual death threats are entirely another.
The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive scene is still dealing with the fallout of a death threat made a few weeks ago at a tournament. The situation arose when one team, The Immortals, arrived late at the tournament and sparked widespread rumors that they were partying too hard the night previous.
When one player publicly accused the team of this, Immortals team member Vito “Kng” Giuseppe tweeted to him, “You’ll prove it, or I’ll kill you!” Reportedly, Giuseppe then tried to go find the accuser and had to be restrained.
The Immortals decided to deal with this internally, scheduling a meeting with Giuseppe to go over his actions. When he didn’t show up, the team decided to suspend him and then, shortly after, let him go entirely.
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from Elsword, Ultima Online, Dreadnought, Overhit, Blade and Soul, Project Ex, Conquer Online, Wurm Online, MechWarrior Online, Pokemon Go, Skyforge, Paladins, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and Miranda, all waiting for you after the break!
By chance, a whole bunch of industry-related. Well, not entirely by chance; our tipsters showered us in VR links in particular. We’ve rounded everything up for a quick look at what’s going on in the depths of the game industry’s moneybags.
- USA Today mocks VR, pointing out that devices’ game offerings are still weak and running down all the big platforms.
- AMC, however, is all in on virtual reality — in movie theaters.
- Intel’s Project Alloy VR headset is dead before it began, without much explanation. “Project Alloy served as a great proof of concept for Intel and the industry – showing what’s possible in a high-performance, immersive and untethered VR experience,” the company reportedly said. “What we’ve learned through Project Alloy will inform future efforts.”
- Want to feel creeped out? Goldman Sachs is poking around in digital gaming, paying attention to mobile, business models, and e-sports. Spoiler, they looooooove how the gaming business model is shaping up.
It’s patch day in SMITE
, as I remembered this morning when my husband logged in and saw the new “Belly Ache Ymir
” skin. Our header above isn’t even big enough to show you the best part: the chocolate chip cookie codpiece. This game.
Anyhoo, Ymir is just one of the Norse gods getting love in today’s patch 4.18, Odyssey: Journey to Asgard, which also introduces new Norse quests and the Norse Conqueror achievement. As part of its ongoing “Project Olympus” overhaul, Hi-Rez is adding random player loadouts, turning off server rollup, and fixing other annoying parts of spectator mode. Check out the patch notes below, and then… hey, who wants an ice cream cone?
Players feeling the frustration and sting of random grouping in Overwatch and other e-sports games might have a new ally in the form of a permanent teaming service. Permateam, as the name implies, connects players with desired team roles to form teams that benefit all. The site has one of the longest and most peculiar manifestos that we have read in a while, mostly expressing the pitfalls that random teaming causes.
“[Overwatch’s] attempt to group people were met with failure,” the site argues. “Players understood quickly that the volatile nature of random teams did not have any direct consequences for them. They could be as toxic as their rage dictated because they would not see the other players again after the match ended. Those lucky enough to win a match, learned that those random teams were just passing by. Skillful players would leave the short-term team and move-on. Occasionally, some players would accept to stick together for a few matches and become ‘friends’. Only to discover the next day that those friends are not playing again or are not reachable again. Having no other choice, players would again click on the ‘Find match’ button with dread, and like flipping a coin, wonder if their next team would bring them luck or misery.”
Blizzard continues raking in the big bucks for its grand vision of Overwatch League, adding three new teams to its roster this week: one from Philly and two from Texas. They’ll bring the final total to 12, where it will stay for its “inaugural season.” The new teams are:
Comcast Spectacor (Philadelphia), leader in sports and entertainment and owner of the Philadelphia Flyers
Team Envy (Dallas), veteran esports organization with experience across multiple genres
OpTic Gaming (Houston), established esports organization known for its passionate global fan base
They’ll join venture capitalists from all over the world, including reps and owners of Cloud9, the LA Rams, New England Patriots, New York Mets, Immortals, Misfits Gaming, NRG Esports, Netease, and Kabam, which superficially secures the League’s future on three continents.
Blizzard has further announced that the season is “just a few short months away” — in fact, preseason play will begin on December 6th, with the season beginning January 10th and concluding with playoffs in July of 2018. This year, at least, all pre- and regular-season games will be held at Blizzard’s shiny new e-sports arena in LA.
Not all e-sports tournaments have to do with players beating on each other’s faces, although to be fair, that seems like a vast majority of them. However, Blizzard is introducing a different type of tournament today in World of Warcraft with its Mythic Dungeon Invitational that draws more from the PvE side of the game.
During the invitational, 32 teams from across the world will be competing over the course of three weekends to work their way up in the rankings. How will they do this? By racing through set mythic-level dungeons in World of Warcraft, of course!
It sounds as though teams will be competing against each other to see which can clear a dungeon the best and fastest: “These teams will need to balance speed, skill, and strategy to claim their victory over their opponents. Keystone levels and affixes will be determined by Blizzard and all competition will take place on special tournament realms in which all players compete on an even playing field.”
Is there anything really important between now and November 3rd, when BlizzCon 2017 begins? Probably not, so we might as well all start hibernating in our pumpkin spice caves.
However, it might behoove some Blizzard fans who can’t physically attend the two-day convention to check out the virtual ticket as a way to hang out at the show from home. It sounds like this package is even better this year. Running fans $40, the virtual ticket offers coverage of every stage, panel, and special event during the convention as well as a $10 discount on the Blizzard physical goody box, a customized viewing list, and replays up to a month after the convention.
The ticket also comes with in-game goodies, including a choice of either a either an Alliance Skychaser or a Horde Interceptor World of Warcraft flying mount that can be redeemed and used today. It also should be noted that everyone, even the most cheapskatiest of us, can view the opening ceremony and e-sports tournaments for free.
Just because SMITE
weren’t available to play at PAX West
doesn’t mean that there wasn’t stuff to learn about the games from Hi-Rez!
I got the low down on Hi-Rez projects from Scott Zier, who is VP of Design at Hi-Rez as well as executive producer of Hand of the Gods. We touched on multiple topics, from the flagship MOBA and the shooter to the MIA mobile title and the new mobile title. As Zier said, the studio always has a number of projects going at any one time: “We’re very much a multi-game studio.”