I've been looking around lately into what people are thinking about Titanfall as a competitive game. I see a lot of very vocal opinions that Titanfall can't be competitive for various reasons and I want to address them in this blog post.
CoD is a Pro Esport, but what does that mean?
So what does a $1 million payout tournament look like in real terms?
Basically, since teams are four players + a captain, you split each prize 5 ways. This means a million dollar prize pool is already "reduced" to $200,000 on an individual basis. But then you further divide this among the top 8 teams. Ultimately the breakdown looks like this (assuming prizes are evenly split):
8th - $5,000/member
7th - $7,000/member
6th - $10,000/member
5th - $14,000/member (finally crossing the poverty line)
4th - $20,000/member (finally surpassing the annual salary for a minimum wage worker)
3rd - $24,000/member
2nd - $40,000/member
1st - $80,000/member
But what about other tournaments? Certainly with multiple events like MLG and UMG that helps!
Not quite. The payout for the MLG Championships last year was $50,000 for Ghosts. Anaheim looks to be only marginally better with $80,000 in prizes up for grabs. UMG pays out $20,000 or less per event. In fact, in all of 2013 there were only $1,360,000 in total payouts from major events (including the CoD Champs tournament).
So we're supposed to say "Fuck it! Titanfall is done. 20 kids playing CoD can make an annual living wage playing CoD every year. Now that's a REAL esport!"
Sorry if I'm not impressed.
When I think of the various things we can all do in life, I think it's incredibly important for people to find what they are passionate about and do that thing as much as possible. We're all given a limited amount of time, and we're extremely limited in how effective we can be if we aren't spending the majority of our time working on things that we care deeply about. Playing a game that
I think a big part of the issue is that the language being used isn't correct. Titanfall features the following gameplay elements:
- The game is exclusively multiplayer where teams play against each other
- The game requires some measure of skill in order to reach the top of the leaderboards (case in point I'm typically at the bottom)
- Strategic and tactical thinking is required in order to control objectives and win games (unless you play Pilot Hunter exclusively)
- Respawn's first major patch added private lobbies to the game, allowing premade teams to compete against each other
In other words, it's the definition of competitive. Now, does it have features that are needed for ESPORTS? No. It's not an esport in it's CURRENT incarnation. But to be fair, neither was CoD: Ghosts at release. So what are we missing?
- Global spectate mode to allow casters to follow the action
- Competitive settings for private lobbies (banning things like burn cards and satchel charges, allowing a lobby leader to control the settings, etc.)
- A ranked ladder with separate statistics tracking to allow us to get a solid view of how good someone is when they play the game seriously to win (rather than to complete silly regen challenges)
- In-game theater to allow for review of gameplay footage (although technically the built-in streaming feature should allow you to look back over the footage, just a little more clunky and if you don't have enough bandwidth then tough luck)
That's it. Most of this Respawn should be able to include within the next 3 months. Replay functionality is the only thing I can see taking longer. So really it's a small chore of keeping Respawn to task adding the features we want through calm, reasoned discussion to turn Titanfall into a game that's esports-ready. That doesn't sound like a hopeless task at all, in my opinion.
Focus on What's Important
What matters to me is that Respawn has created a game that is fun to play that people can be passionate about. We don't need to worry about all the people complaining that Titanfall isn't an esport because they don't actually matter. If we get enough people who are passionate about the game (like we have at vVv Gaming) then we can build up a competitive scene and influence Respawn/EA to support it as an esport with competitive features and sponsored events with prizes.
The idea that, because there isn't enough money in Titanfall to support 20 kids financially RIGHT NOW or the proper esports features to support casting and tournament settings RIGHT NOW is ridiculous. Why should that be more important than people enjoying the game and pursuing their passions? IT SHOULDN'T! The very notion that 20 kids can't make a living playing Titanfall trumps your enjoyment of the game is INSANE. Follow your passions, play the games you enjoy, and do it for the sheer love of playing and good things will come.
If you don't know where to start, join a professional gaming community that supports Titanfall. At the very least this will put you around other people who share your passion and will immerse you in an environment where people are all looking to grow competitive Titanfall. I <3 Reddit, but you need to make more personal connections with people to share your ideas and make a difference.
So let's get together and make this happen! With the core gameplay as solid as it is, there's no doubt in my mind that Respawn will do an amazing job supporting Titanfall. As long as we are just as awesome supporting Respawn and letting them know what we want in the game, they will give us as many competitive features as we could possibly imagine. On that note, I'm looking forward to seeing Titanfall grow into an amazing esport with all of the passionate Titanfall players here Prepare for Titanfall! (as an esport)