15 votes

Does the frequent addition of content to esport games delegitimize them?

This questions ultimately rests on the supposition of what a game intends to be or what esport should be. This is partially why it probably won't spark too much discussion, but I'm interested in your opinions nonetheless, especially when it comes to the current state of esports. It seems to me that when we are talking about rules in any kind of sport we want to change as little as we can over time. If the rules changes enough, you could argue that people have over time played what essentially is a different game. It becomes harder to compare achievements between players within the a timeline. Meta's and achievements will only really be comparable after games has stopped adding content such as new heroes or mechanics. With a lot of games there seems to be a major content patch, then long period of balancing and this cycle basically repeats itself. Another point is that by adding content and changing the meta you are preventing the current players from reaching their full potential, the older players from retaining their hard earned experience and discouraging new players by promising them a game they can never "beat". That is until the content stops coming in and in today's world that might mean that you are not able to play at all due to a lack of dedicated servers. Further the players that might once have stuck to it might already have left, leaving no opponents left to play against.

This superficial take ultimately comes from someone who hasn't really played esports except a little bit of 1.6 counter strike and counter strike global offensive. It always struck me as odd that with MOBA's and especially with shooters such as overwatch and siege, that there seem to be no pushback on this. When I ask people that prefer this sort of drip-feed-service, what I usually hear is that it's something that is necessary to keep them engaged. Isn't there ultimately a trade-off here, between a sort of accessible fun and lack of constancy which prevents players from reaching their full potential?

I immediately see the talking point of financial aspect of games. It seems to me however that Quake and counter strike largely went without major changes when compared to modern esports games. Are there any good broad rules we can use when designing esport games in order to avoid the issues mentioned here?

In an ideal world, do you agree that we generally don't want kind of content and/or rule change that we see today?

If there is a need to add content (such as heroes) to keep a game feeling "fresh". Is there an acknowledgement here that the core-gameplay isn't engaging enough? I think there is a case to be made here when it comes to MOBA's since knowledge (about enemy heroes abilities) plays a more central part when compared to more archaic shooters. Is this indicative of a an audience that is more interested in an entertaining service, rather than a (e)sport that seldom changes?

When we look at games such as world of warcraft, which isn't an esport, yet there are achievements and historic events so to speak which became cheapened or not attainable until what was basically a restart of the timeline (story of the game). Is this not what we are risking with current service models in modern esports?

11 comments

  1. [2]
    mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    I’d say it delegitimize (or at least give context to) records, but not esport itself. This also happens in regular sports, although at a much slower pace. Formula One is a great example.

    I’d say it delegitimize (or at least give context to) records, but not esport itself.

    This also happens in regular sports, although at a much slower pace.

    Formula One is a great example.

    10 votes
    1. zonixum
      Link Parent
      You mentioned in your other comments that political and economic pressures makes it hard to achieve total fairness. There is a key difference here, those pressures as with formula one comes only...

      You mentioned in your other comments that political and economic pressures makes it hard to achieve total fairness. There is a key difference here, those pressures as with formula one comes only from competitors I would assume. All arrangement made by those hosting the games and making up the rules tries to level the playing field to a certain point of reasonableness. With esports we are able to make things even more fair and of course we should, to a certain point of reasonableness.

      So when the people arranging the game, or developers in this case, have this opportunity then shouldn't take it? Well that is what I'm talking about. If they don't, then can't we conclude that they aren't interested in facilitating for an esport? Doesn't this delegitimize the esport games in which this happens? Speaking generally about the state of things. If this is true for the majority of esports, then that is a damning things for esports in general.

  2. [2]
    pocketry
    Link
    Rocket League hasn't really changed in a long time. If you look at the differences in championships now and 3 years ago, it's all about player skills improving. People have learned to do new...

    Rocket League hasn't really changed in a long time. If you look at the differences in championships now and 3 years ago, it's all about player skills improving. People have learned to do new things with their cars and the level of control the pros have over their car and the ability to read the ball and other players is amazing. I don't actually watch the esports because I'm not really into watching things, but the clips I see on YouTube blow me away.

    6 votes
    1. zonixum
      Link Parent
      I forgot about rocket league actually. I suppose rocket league stands outside the overall trend.

      I forgot about rocket league actually. I suppose rocket league stands outside the overall trend.

      3 votes
  3. [5]
    moonbathers
    Link
    I lean towards not changing things. I used to avidly play Starcraft 2 and it was evident that Blizzard didn't know what they were doing when it came to design/balance. They had a "throw shit at...

    I lean towards not changing things. I used to avidly play Starcraft 2 and it was evident that Blizzard didn't know what they were doing when it came to design/balance. They had a "throw shit at the wall and see what sticks" approach to patches and I think the game suffered for it. If there had been a good balance from the start (and there absolutely wasn't, some strategies were hilariously broken) they could have let it be for the last ten years and the game wouldn't be doing any worse.

    You can make a case for games like Dota mixing things up once in a while, but there's also plenty of evidence there that it breaks things more than it makes them fun and new.

    3 votes
    1. [4]
      Rez
      Link Parent
      In Blizzard's defense and in my many years' experience as an avid strategy mapper for WC3, consider that you have to tip-toe around hardcore gamers. You have to not only consider how the balance...

      In Blizzard's defense and in my many years' experience as an avid strategy mapper for WC3, consider that you have to tip-toe around hardcore gamers. You have to not only consider how the balance works on paper, but how it actually works once it intersects with how the community wants to play the game, regardless of how viable you try to make certain alternative strategies or if you want to nerf a fun-but-broken/problematic play style. I had competitive maps that were balanced for years that suddenly had issues because players finally broke out a certain meta because they were that content playing the map a certain way. Intense competition can have a way of making players less innovative and creative in some circumstances, as they trend towards a mindset of "Okay, we only consider these strategies to be viable, now it's just a matter of optimization, APM and teamwork."

      I was limited in the ways I could change maps to address more fundamental issues with the balance design without causing massive backlash in the process, leaving me to tinker around the edges, being more concerned with keeping the competitive player base happy rather than striving for true balance (not that I'm claiming some epic talent for balancing if only the community let me have my way). Obviously I don't want to go the mile for defending Blizzard (they botched WC3 Reforged horrendously and I dropped SC2 after the direction they went with Heart of the Swarm) but I am sympathetic to the difficulty of balancing. It simply doesn't matter what your perfect little design is if the players don't meet you halfway, and in these arenas, a few voices who have their pet preferences hold outsize influence over the community.

      5 votes
      1. [3]
        zonixum
        Link Parent
        Thanks for the interesting insight. This seems to be the case in shooters like counter strike as well. Map design is hard and takes a lot of effort. With games that is constantly changing you are...

        Thanks for the interesting insight. This seems to be the case in shooters like counter strike as well. Map design is hard and takes a lot of effort. With games that is constantly changing you are at the same time locked into the maps designwise and vica versa. I think it is another argument for why some esports should seriously consider randomly generated maps.

        I think what's interesting about map making is that while it's very easy to make a fair map, there seems to be a very big expectation on map makers making maps interesting or engaging somehow. I wonder if this is not indicative of a game in which the gameplay doesn't really stand on it's own legs. Consider that rocket league maps is basically just a square box. I am wondering if this doesn't tell us that the future of esports is one where players doesn't rely on established knowledge such as map meta's. In fact, a thumb of rule would be to discard as much meta as possible to enter the competitive arena, thereby making it accessible and revolve more around skill.

        I do wonder if the map problems that you mention can partially be overcome by presenting the map more as an obstacle to overcome while also only revealing it just before start. Give players a few minutes to plan for the map, while keeping the map rotation extremely large. These kinds of games are about teamwork so why not lean into that.

        1. [2]
          Pistos
          Link Parent
          A slightly imbalanced map is okay, as long as the two competing teams switch sides during the course of the match. Due Process is a small-team FPS (in alpha) where maps will be randomly generated...

          A slightly imbalanced map is okay, as long as the two competing teams switch sides during the course of the match.

          Due Process is a small-team FPS (in alpha) where maps will be randomly generated very often (every 2 or 3 weeks or so) by stitching together basic map modules (rooms, hallways, etc.) before being reviewed and curated by humans. So, their development team is baking in the notion of map knowledge not being a key component for success.

          1. zonixum
            Link Parent
            Yeah and due process isn't the only one. Can't wait for more games use more randomly generated maps, stories and the implications.

            Yeah and due process isn't the only one. Can't wait for more games use more randomly generated maps, stories and the implications.

  4. mrbig
    Link
    I would also like to point out that fairness is not really a thing in most professional high stakes sports. They’re all subject to heavy political and economic pressures. Not every soccer team can...

    I would also like to point out that fairness is not really a thing in most professional high stakes sports. They’re all subject to heavy political and economic pressures.

    Not every soccer team can afford Lionel Messi, and not every Formula 1 team can afford Lewis Hamilton or a state of the art engine. And how many chess players had the privilege of being coached by Kasparov?

    1 vote
  5. vorotato
    Link
    I don't think there is any de-legitimization. Both sides get both the benefits and costs. If there is any way to sneak out a gain, often both sides can exploit it.

    I don't think there is any de-legitimization. Both sides get both the benefits and costs. If there is any way to sneak out a gain, often both sides can exploit it.

    1 vote