Gambling and gaming are two sides of the same coin. You guys wouldn’t believe how many gambling companies request to put ads on MOP every month (unsuccessfully!), so clearly advertisers believe there’s plenty of overlap in the groups. And the debate over gambling in video games – whether we’re talking about lockbox monetization schemes or watching bureaucrats home in on skin gambling – isn’t going away. In fact, it’s about to get much bigger as gamblers are walloped from still another direction.
This week the Supreme Court effectively overturned PASPA – the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act – in deciding Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association. The ruling hinged on the section of PASPA that basically barred local governments from licensing betting on sports games, reserving that power for the federal government. The act had been interpreted to include e-sports once e-sports became a thing as well. The state of New Jersey and the NCAA went to war over the statue, battling in court over the last seven years, and now, New Jersey, or at least the gambling institutions of New Jersey, has won.
It must have been some time ago at Capcom’s business strategy meeting where the top executives were sitting around and talking in hushed tones about what the company’s development strategy would be. Of course, the whiteboard already had the obvious suggestions on it: a massively unpopular Street Fighter sequel that launched without features, a half-hearted Marvel vs. Capcom installment, pretending Mega Man didn’t exist, etc. And then one lone executive spoke up, saying, “What if we developed a game everyone wanted to play and then released it internationally, so American and Japanese players could both enjoy it?
Except he said it in Japanese, of course. Thus began the story of Monster Hunter World, which ends with Capcom experiencing its best financial year… ever. At any point in history.
More than that, MHW also managed to outsell every other game in the company’s history at 7.9 million copies sold worldwide. Understandably, next year will see a renewed push for live events for the title as its PC version launches later this year. The company is also planning a renewed e-sports push around that aforementioned Street Fighter sequel, because bad habits die hard.
is going all in on e-sports, founding its own e-sports production outfit called Skillshot Media
and lending longtime COO Todd Harris to oversee it. According to GIbiz
, the fledgling company opens tomorrowday with 35 employees already.
“Our goal has always been to foster community through esports and video content,” Harris writes on the new website. “By organizing ourselves as a separate entity focused only on esports and content, we’re excited to bring even more dedicated esports attention to SMITE and Paladins, and to also explore partnerships with new games and additional game publishers and developers.”
Meanwhile, in the studio’s flagship MOBA SMITE itself, Chernobog, Lord of Darkness, cometh. Specifically, he’s live and playable on the PTS right now.
“He is the incarnation of the inevitable evil that persists in the world. He is Chernobog, Lord of Darkness. Learn the lore of our newest Slavic God entering the Battleground in Update 5.8!”
Still don’t think we should take e-sports seriously? Doesn’t even matter because it’s happening anyway. To wit:
Riot Games has partnered with UC Berkeley to boost esports in the California university system and launch an intramural e-sports league for League of Legends this fall. There are new scholarships for e-sports “student-athletes” too.
“The recently announced UC Berkeley esports community center will open in the campus’s Foothill complex in fall 2018. The University’s unique esports approach will provide support for educational and professional development programs for esports athletes and incorporates multiple aspects of the student experience, focusing on five overarching pillars: community, competition, social responsibility, wellness, and lifelong learning. Centering on inclusivity and community, a new Women in Gaming initiative will be headed by two female leaders among Cal’s student gamers.”
If Guild Wars 2’s
abrupt pull-out of PvP e-sports and tournaments a year ago
filled all your 20-slot bags with stacks of pure sadness, take heart: Players are trying to fill the void. Not with a $200,000 prize pool as ArenaNet
once did, mind you, but it’s still got a cash prize. We’re talking about The Mist Challengers Tournament
, a player-hosted series of PvP events, the first of which is this weekend, beginning at 11 a.m. EDT on Saturday and streamed live by WoodenPotatoes.
“The Mist Challengers Tournament aims to bring new and experienced players together in a two bracketed Tournament! If you’ve never stepped into an arena before, or you haven’t left one since Pro League ended, this is the tournament for you! We will be providing gold prizes for anyone who enters, even if you get knocked out first round, and increasing gold the farther along you get in the First, or Challengers Bracket. All donations to increase this prize pool are welcome, more info on that can be found on the Battlefy link. Additionally the top 2 teams from the Challengers Bracket will be allowed the opportunity to participate in the second bracket, the Invitational, where they will join the top 6 teams across both NA and EU. The most exciting part? These 8 teams will be battling it out for a prize pool of $2,000!”
Brendan’s discussion with CCP Falcon at EVE Fanfest last week included an interesting chat about out-of-game harassment and whether gaming companies had an obligation to do something about it. Falcon said it wasn’t healthy for a studio to “overstep” its “jurisdiction”: “I think our jurisdiction likes firmly within EVE Online, and I think that of people do break the few rules that we have then we should come down hard on them, especially in cases of harassment or real life threats.”
But over the years, we’ve covered multiple MMO studios who’ve made it their business to utilize content like Tweets and YouTube videos – Blizzard and SOE/Daybreak come immediately to mind – to make disciplinary calls inside their games. And that leads me to today’s Overthinking, proposed by MOP reader Sally: “What is your opinion on in-game vs. public out of game toxicity?” she asks.
Epic Games is still doggedly pursuing supposed Fortnite cheaters. As we reported back in November, one of the defendants in Epic’s many lawsuits is a 14-year-old boy who stands accused of streaming and promoting cheats on his YouTube channel. At the time, his mother sent an informal letter to the court, arguing that her son didn’t actually develop cheats, that Epic had unlawfully released his name (as a minor), and that Epic was unfairly scapegoating him.
As TorrentFreak (via GIbiz) noted, the court took that letter as a motion to dismiss (the family hadn’t responded officially otherwise). Epic has since refiled its complaint as a reply to that motion, claiming that it didn’t know the kid was a minor and that he had agreed to the EULA.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds isn’t giving up the fight against Fortnite for the market share of the battle royale crowd. The PvP shooter has a ton of content in the works, starting with a weapons balance patch that’s coming soon.
The team said that this patch should address imbalance in players’ selections: “According to our research, only a few specific types of weapons (ARs) are used in most situations. We believe the choice about which gun to use should be based on personal preference and its effectiveness in any given situation, rather than simply ‘which gun is strongest.’ Our goal is to make it so no one gun will feel objectively better than the others.”
The studio announced that it is hosting the first official PUBG e-sports tournament later this year in Berlin with a $2 million prize pool. Also, Xbox One players can rejoice that they will finally be getting the Miramar map only four or so months after it came out on PC.
And finally, PUBG Corp. is asking players to vote on one of five names for an abandoned resort that’s located on the Savage map.
E-sports programs and scholarships at universities stopped being newsworthy years ago once they were a dime a dozen, but a new one from Ohio’s Ashland University has caught the mainstream media’s eye because it’s reportedly the very first to include Fortnite.
“Ashland’s esports team, which will begin competition next fall, will arrange four-player teams that practice regularly and compete together,” says the university. “AU is at the forefront in adding Fortnite to its offerings, which already include League of Legends, Overwatch, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Rocket League. Eventually, [head coach Josh] Buchanan’s hope is that collegiate leagues will be set up for official Fortnite competitions.”
Open tryouts will begin for the 2018-2019 school year. The best players can snag “up to $4,000 based on player skill level and academic requirements” in scholarships.
Epic Games is super sorry about all the Fortnite downtime earlier this month, so sorry it spent 11 seconds talking about it in its latest dev video, which is less time that the rockin’ video intro took. The studio also says that it’s keeping an eye on weapon swapping changes (it already rolled back some of them) and that it’s still working on swap animations and tinkering on various quality-of-life issues, including trap identification.
Meanwhile, several sites are covering what they believe to be leaks about the game’s Week 10 Challenges; players are looking at seven new weeklies, among them headshot damage counts, chest-searching in multiple named locations, and skydiving through floating rings. Can’t say as I’ve ever had a quest to go skydiving in an MMO before.
Finally, ESPN has a piece up on popular streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, whose Vegas event at the new Luxor e-sports arena charged competitors $75 to come try to kill him (winners took home $2500). E-sports are getting weirder.
Things are looking slightly grim for Valve’s MOBA, as SuperData reports that DOTA 2’s playerbase is in decline as the game continues to lose its population.
The average player base, which peaked at 709,000 back in February 2016, is now down to 437,000 as of last month. Peak players have declined from 1.2 million down to 733,000 over the same span of time.
While the MOBA is still boasting respectable numbers and is active in the e-sports scene, it doesn’t even break onto the top 10 charts for Superdata’s monthly PC rankings (where competitor League of Legends continues to sit comfortably at the top).
The MOBA pushed out its Feast of Abscession update earlier this month, adding the Pudge Arcana for the butcher and lots of new voiceovers.
Blizzard fans, this year’s BlizzCon has a date, and that day is November 2nd and 3rd, almost three months after the launch of World of Warcraft’s Battle for Azeroth, meaning you won’t even be missing much grinding time to attend, and you can count on lots of post-mortemy-type panels rather than endless teasers. On the other hand? E-sports, e-sports, e-sports.
“This year’s event will again commence with the esports action of BlizzCon Opening Week, taking place at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles from October 25 to 29, where the initial rounds of the StarCraft II World Championship Series Global Finals, the Heroes of the Storm Global Championship Finals, and World of Warcraft Arena World Championship Finals will unfold. The competitions will culminate in Anaheim on November 2 and 3, where the champions of these tournaments along with those of the Overwatch World Cup and Hearthstone Global Games will be crowned.”
Last year’s event was sold out, so if you’re aiming to go, jot down these even more important dates: May 9th and 12th, when tickets will go on sale.
Are studios starting to wake up and take action against particularly odious instances of gaming toxicity in their products? Blizzard, at least, is working to police its precious Overwatch League, which certainly does not need more controversy or bad publicity in its first season.
The studio levied a three-game suspension, a $2,000 fine, and revoked the streaming privileges of Philadelphia Fusion’s Josh “Eqo” Corona after Corona made a racist face on one of his streams. Blizzard is reported to have tight control over the League’s players with its code of conduct, in which it wrote that no player or team could bring the League or studio into “disrepute” with their actions. (This is not the first fine the League has issued.)
Speaking of disrepute, the League’s Boston Uprising went ahead and suspended Jonathan “DreamKazper” Sanchez due to allegations that he, an adult, was pursuing a sexual relationship with a minor.