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What makes a game an eSports-worthy title?

By: Chris Smith | Editorials in Gaming | Posted: Feb 22, 2015 6:40 pm

Developer Support

 

Something that didn't really exist as recently as five years ago, developer support is arguably the number one factor in a game becoming a successful eSport title. This ranges from listening to feedback and advice from your community, to providing regular updates and bug fixes, alongside using some of your marketing budget to supplement competitions.

 

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Later in the article, I will cover specific developers and how they do a great job of this task - but the basic inclusions I have listed above should be enough to get you thinking of some examples.

 

 

Some form of gaming team or player support

 

Whether it's the developers keeping in constant contact with pro-gaming teams for feedback, providing large-scale tournaments, or simply helping with exposure and marketing tasks, keeping track of and helping out your best students ensures that the game fans have something to look up to.

 

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There's nothing that gets you wanting to play your game of choice more than watching your favourite players smash their way through a tournament and being thrown up on stage surrounded falling confetti and an over-sized trophy.

 

Every eSports fanatic needs heroes and someone to look up to - not only for stardom reasons, but to help the current metagame develop, and for players to become more skilled by learning from others.

 

 

A match-making system

 

This is a controversial inclusion when compared to the others. We've seen massive success in games like CS:GO since the inclusion of singular and team matchmaking, alongside other titles, like League of Legends, Dota 2 and StarCraft II including this feature for quite some time.

 

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What's great about matchmaking is that it throws your general players directly into a competitive environment, without the ability for people to change or alter the game whatsoever. This means that the circumstances they are playing under directly mimics that of a professional tournament environment. The lack of choice doesn't seem to bother the casual players, whereas the competitive aspect allows those in training to further their knowledge against people of similar skill levels.

 

Think about Counter-Strike: Source, for example - with no matchmaking system available. In order to practise, you may need to use an external website to contact another competitive team (which means both teams need five players online and ready), or you could use a third-party PUG (pick up group) website (which often sees players troll other community members), or you can load into a 24/7 De_Dust2 public server with 30 other players and be spammed to death. Although a practise match against another team is the most optimal route, matchmaking is a good way for players to keep up their skills or to introduce newbies to the competitive environment to begin with.

 

The reason I call this a controversial inclusion is that many people do not believe matchmaking to be a necessity in an eSports title, however, I think it's extremely helpful.

 

 

A LAN mode

 

LAN is the topic of the decade - think about basically any large-scale multiplayer game today and how they require connections to the internet in one form or another.

 

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Even if the servers aren't hosted completely online, most games generally require you to at least log on to an online verification system like Battle.net or Steam in order to launch the game in the first place. Online-only games like League of Legends are still quite successful, usually you will find that they have special LAN clients that can be handled by trusted organisations or company staff only - meaning that large-scale events are saved from internet issues.

 

Thankfully for other games like CS:GO and Dota 2, these games require the internet to login (sometimes they don't even need that) and then LAN can be utilized for play - removing the all-too-common issue of internet drop-outs and DDoS attacks at gaming events.

 

 

A skill gap

 

Also, something that is extremely important, there is no point in running a competition unless your game has a skill ceiling high enough to accommodate this.

 

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This is where a lot of the 'casual gamer' flak comes from in the PC Master Race crowd and through eSports elitist circles. A skill gap refers to certain tips, tricks, mechanics and abilities that ensure your game is hard to master - meaning that with a certain degree of training and analysis, one team is able to become a clear victor over another.

 

Imagine if you released a PC FPS title which contained auto-aiming and allowed the currently-losing team to run 5% faster than the winning. Sure, this might promote casual game-play and online fun, however it basically ruins the game from an eSports perspective. For a game to be tournament-ready, it needs to be hard to master - otherwise why bother putting in thousands of hours practising when some child can come along and beat you with no prior training?

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