ESPN Looking to Expand Competitive Gaming Programming

By on July 29, 2014 at 8:14 am
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While the fighting game community stopped in its tracks earlier this month to watch Evo 2014, another major video game tournament was going on at the same time a couple hundred miles to the north. That tournament was the fourth annual DotA 2 International tournament (TI4 for short) and it caused some big waves with both its $11 million prize pool and the coverage it received from the worldwide leader in sports, ESPN.

According to The Daily Dot, ESPN was pleased with how their first serious foray into competitive gaming went. Pleased enough, in fact, that the network is looking to expand its presence in the scene.

“ESPN have seen enough recent successes with esports and are about to double down,” their source said. “The numbers they hit with The International have only cemented the view that the time is right.”

The next step, they say, is expanding their existing relationship with Major League Gaming. ESPN and MLG collaborated in April on a Call of Duty: Ghosts tournament, and that may have laid the foundation for another major push. If things advance quickly, there is a small possibility that we could see fighting games on television in the near future.

Source: The Daily Dot

  • MizukiTHPS

    Too bad fighting games are poverty. Except for Evo.

    • Kay Imperia

      yeah $11million and 17,000 attendees in an arena vs… $40k or so and maybe 3k attendees in a ballroom? we got a long way to go. Valve pumped up the prize pool with the compendium thing though. that’ll be an idea to get the statistics over the hump. more licensed sf artwork. it’ll sell.

      • Singey

        Evo gets about 5-8k individual attendees in the ballroom. I believe it was one of Crosscounter’s vids about what to expect at Evo, or another prominent figure.

        • Kay Imperia

          you get the point of this thread right? espn isn’t setting up shop in ballrooms

          • ReddChief78

            Well 5-8k attendees & 150k viewers is pretty good for a couple of dudes who don’t have MILLIONS of dollars and a NETWORK like ESPN, just think if they had that.

          • R0B0T

            You get the point of this article? This is just the beginning. Baby steps my friend, baby steps.

          • Krystalmyth

            Fetus steps.

  • Collander Parham

    I can see it now. SC Top 10 showing some spectacular combo or comeback at number 5

  • Wagner Alberto

    can you post here to shoryuken? we will have a stream.

    MWisk and CACOMP presents: CACOMP Arena VI, come join the biggest
    fighting game tournament in the capital of Brazil on August 3rd (Sunday)
    from 12pm EST (8am PST) to 12am EST (8pm PST).

    Watch the stream at: http://www.twitch.tv/dabanditbr

    More info at: http://www.facebook.com/groups/cacompfightclub

  • Guest

    It could turn the future of fighting games around 360º.

    • Mike Cervantes

      If something was turned around 360 degrees, it would be right back where it originally started.

      • pablofsi

        Lol yeah, I was distracted.

      • Nybb

        Is this your first day on the internet?

    • abcdefgqwerty

      fighting games have issues keeping them from ever approaching games like dota 2. Its more a topic for a paper than a quick couple sentences. Fighting games being F2P would certainly help though

  • k4polo

    Video games players are getting older so video game become more acceptable in society. This is bound to happen. I can even see a network dedicated to this.

    • 7/11 Truther

      Agreed, I don’t see watching video games being an issue in 10-20 years.

    • Bushin_Cat

      Really? Ooh ooh, I have the perfect name for a tv network just for gamers: we’ll call it….. G4TV

  • Freakmasta

    I can already see the Chris Berman hype.

    • RaiiN

      I just wanna hear the nicknames he would give out to players.

  • Nybb

    For one thing, we’re not even close to the level of TI4; I am extremely sceptical we’ll see anything fighting-game related. It would be really sweet if Capcom could take a page out of Valve’s book and, say, release a new costume every month at $5 and put most of that money towards a big tournament of their own. Unfortunately, we’re too late into SF4’s life cycle to make any big change like that. I can only hope that somebody at Capcom is smart enough to do something like that for SF5.

    And for another thing, who even cares about TV? Do people still watch that thing? I’ve never even paid for cable and I don’t know anybody in my generation who does.

    • JasinWalraven

      Ultra just came out…..a month is too late in a games life cycle?

      • Ndebe

        Don’t know if you realize this, but the base game of SF4 came out in 2008. Also don’t know if you realize this, but the release of USF4 was nowhere near as big as the release of SF4 or SSF4. Yeah Ultra technically came out a month ago, but technicality never won anybody anything. Fighting games are nowhere near the size of MOBA, so when ESPN says they are going to expand into competitive gaming, they most likely don’t mean fighting games.

    • abcdefgqwerty

      honestly until fighting games are F2P like dota and are more casual friendly they will never get near numbers like dota 2. Also the social team aspect is not in fighting games so people play with their friends and it gets more popular. Fighting games are mainly solo

      • AL

        and we all know how BAD F2P can get ppl are flipping shit on CAPCOM for even considering that angle for SF5 and are flipping shit on NAMCO for considering an easy mode on Tekken 7

  • 7/11 Truther

    Why are we gunning for the medium of television in an age where television is dying and digital is the future?

    • JasinWalraven

      if given a choice to watch a tournament on twitch or on cable tv, I’d pick cable tv. Just a more reliable delivery medium…….how often do you miss a hype moment in the Superbowl cause the stream lagged?

      • Ndebe

        …get better internet then? My Comcast 50mb/s had no problems in Evo 2k14. Internet speeds are only going up and streaming technology is only going to get better. More and more people are leaving cable TV. Internet streaming is the future.

        • Alexis Monsivaiz

          Yeah, but that doesn’t take into the account the random streamer side issues that could occur, the streaming website platform having a sudden problem, or even a slight disruption in service on your end or with hardware. Schtuff happens, sometimes at inopportune times that we can’t stop. Yeah, TV service can have its hiccups too, but the recording equipment, transmission medium, and viewing is by far more ‘stable’ in comparison to internet viewing. That’s not saying that internet viewing is plagued with interruptions or far from perfect (because for the most part it is practically flawless on most days), but it does happen, at least slightly more so. Just getting ‘better internet’ doesn’t save you from a random and sudden disturbance, and chances are, not everyone has the opportunity to subscribe to broadband or FiOS depending on their location. I look forward to seeing local Emergency Broadcast System tests or warnings during grand finals though. Sign me up for that! 😀

        • R0B0T

          Ok, I agree TV is stupid, and so are people still paying for Cable television. However your connection to the internet is not the whole equation, there could be bandwidth limiting issues in your region or on any hop between you and twitch. Some may not be as lucky as you and run into that issue.

          However if I were going to argue for TV vs Internet mediums, I would say that putting video games on TV will still reach a lot more people. Mainly because 90% of the population still believes it is important to have television piped into their home and are more likely to watch scheduled programming than randomly come across that fighting game stream on twitch. This is about reaching new audiences. Not the same old ones we know. But like you I subscribe to internet only in my home.

          • Steven Tyler Parry

            Ever walked into almost ANY american home ever? They all have basically a shrine to the television god set up in the their home somewhere. I dare you to find one home in your suburban neighborhood (if you live in one) that doesn’t have a TV in a room with all the seats in that room facing it.

            Until we stop building our living rooms/dens this way TV will reign supreme. It’s not about “reliability” vs. twitch at all. I’ve had cable crap out on me just as much as my internet or twitch. They are all shitty because american internet is horrible and we are basically third world at this point in our architecture and speed.

            TV is still an american god and the recent rally it has had due to the quality of it’s programming taking a serious uptick may be the swan song but…. it’s still singing it so…. espn would be a good thing for fighting game understanding to spread a bit. Many people still think they are just button mashing games with very little thought or skill… they don’t actually see the moves or plans or “story” being told between the two fighters actions. commentary and analysis in a big push medium like that would help a decent bit i imagine.

          • R0B0T

            Ok I edited my post into two paragraphs, if you read the second you will see that I am basically arguing for TV exposure, for the same reasons you outlined. Also I am not sure if you were replying to me or someone else. Maybe someone else.

          • Steven Tyler Parry

            it was probably to the guy above you. these reply arrows on here sometimes fool me. i was on your side. just re-wording it in a fun way. sorry if it seemed directed at you.

        • JasinWalraven

          Pffff, I have better internet than you, but nice try troll

    • ReoAyanami

      How is the television dying?

      Most people around the world still rely on TV for information and entertainment.

    • Shaddox

      Television dying? TV market, viewer numbers and prices for ad segments seem to dictate otherwise.

  • I think Twitch and EG are just the beginning – they see the potential of fighting games as a spectator sport. When you think about it, fighting games are the easiest to watch from spectator standpoint. Anyone of any age, language, or experience can watch and understand. It’s just like watching a boxing match. So regardless of the actual amount of competitive players fighting games have a huge opportunity from a spectator standpoint. DOTA, LOL doesn’t make sense unless you have experience. COD is great to play, very difficult to watch – switching screens etc.

    • Ndebe

      Watchability is literally the dumbest argument ever. If watchability was ever an actual factor in popularity, Quake would have never died out to Counter-Strike, and StarCraft would not be dying to MOBA. Fighting games are never going to get to the level of LoL or DotA because Capcom cannot and will not compete with Riot or Valve in pushing their game as a legitimate competition.

      Do you actually play fighting games by any chance? Most people who aren’t just stream monsters who shit up twitch chat knows that the real driving force behind fighting games are the people who go out and actually play the games, not this e-sports nonsense.

      • No need to be so hostile.
        I disagree with a lot of what you have said. And watchability is definitely a factor. The whole topic is about spectating via ESPN and the like.
        I’m at work and have to run but not sure what you’re arguing about or why you’re so angry.
        And not that I have to explain myself but I support the scene in a number of ways and was at Evo 3 of the last 4 years…..why am I explaining this?

  • JDot

    Yeeeeeah, sounds like a pipe dream for the moment. Even if it wasn’t, the state of fighting games would lead to an inevitable failure even if it one were picked up. Should just make what we have more sustainable and then think about that type of stuff later on. Should also note that, of course, these other games have bigger pools of viewers and players simply because online is a more viable option for them (though not the only reason) and, most of the time, players have to invest a lot of money just to be able to both get competitive and compete in fighting games.

    • R0B0T

      You are probably the smartest fighting game community member I have ever had the pleasure of reading a forum post from. I agree with you 100% that 1 of the factors that severely hurts the popularity of fighting games is the ability to play them online.

      I wish I could go home and play my favorite fighting game all day just queuing against new people I do not know all the time. But it is unrealistic. I actually have to leave my home to get sustainable competition. However the problem then becomes exposure to the roster, which means I have to travel to find those players that play the characters I lack experience against.

      Lastly I believe that if a day ever comes where fighting games can be played perfectly online, Fighting games popularity will begin to catch up and beat some of the more popular genres today.

  • BlackMasamune

    EVO on ESPN8 The Ocho.

  • grezex29

    Considering MLG’s history/reputation when it comes to Smash Bros, and the fact the last MLG wound up having them lose ALL footage when they used their own streaming service and everything got deleted (along with the ridiculous commercial breaks during that Crew Battle making it last almost AN HOUR AND A HALF longer), I really would rather EVO, and fighting games in general just stay away from them.

    • Nael

      Stay away from MLG? The FG community already does a pretty good job of that. However, ESPN is not MLG, not by a long shot.

      • grezex29

        Yeah, but they talked about taking “the next step with MLG”, which would obviously suspect a partnership. And the last thing we need are more matches interrupted partway through by “Cheeeeddaaaaaarrr!”.

    • ycz6

      MLG Smash had some issues, sure… but did you see the Injustice stream?

  • R0B0T

    So something everyone should consider is what this means for the Fighting Game Genre as a whole. ESPN’s mere interest in exploiting video game tournaments or “esports” is what people should be paying attention to, not arguing over when and how ESPN might find a reason or no reason at all to put EVO on television. This is just the beginning. A beginning that companies like Capcom or any other FG developer might look at and say “hey, if we can put something together like the guys at Valve did with DOTA, then maybe our games can get the spotlight they deserve”. This would naturally translate into more games sold, which means more money for the devs. This would also create a secondary market for sponsors to get products in front of millions of more people.

    However there is more that should be considered, right now me you or anyone can walk up to Evo and enter the tournament. And even if you can’t or couldn’t there is nothing stopping you from Pre Registering in advance. Now how many of you can name the last time you walked into a sporting arena and said hey I want to play for the “Texans” today or any sports team. Not something just anyone can do, if we all get what we want and e-sports and fighting games explode into the mainstream going to tournaments with the intent to compete may become a thing of the past. You will instead meet up with your gamer friends go to the local bar and watch the tournament from afar with only the top 1% of contenders in the tournament.

    In conclusion be careful what you wish for. Although I cannot imagine it getting that out of hand, I know my example in the second paragraph is a bit far fetched. But you never know.

    • Steven Tyler Parry

      That is a huge assumption following a leap in logic that there is no basis for and that you do not explain. Why would they stop being open tournaments just because they have more attention?

      • R0B0T

        In my conclusion I went on to say that it was far fetched. Also i did not mean to convey that this would happen anytime soon. Imagine a world where esports/Fighting games are as big and important as Football? I am just painting a possibility. I am in no way saying “THIS IS GOING TO HAPPEN” and again it was a far fetched conclusion.

        • Stephen Elias

          I can see where you’re going Robot, but consider this. I’ve been in the drifting community for some time now and it started very much like the fighting game world…firmly rooted in the “grass roots” type of environment in which drifters both seasoned and “newb” came together to shred tires, rub doors, and just learn to how to be a better driver…it’s how I started and it was very welcoming. Enter our current era with organizations such as Formula D which features sponsored drivers, millions of dollars in advertisement and many events (at least early in FDs existence) broadcast on the now defunct G4TV (or Cops TV) with varying degrees of success.

          Even with this mainstream exposure, grassroots drift events are still around and in many cases even more prevalent…entry fees have dropped considerably and big name pro drivers like Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Chris Forsburg regularly attend these events to test and tune providing a great opportunity to rub (and in many cases doors) elbows with drift “celebrities” as many events allow pro-am competitors to tandem alongside pro drivers during these events.

          So while the exposure could well lead to a scenario such as you described, I get the same feeling from the FGC that I get from the drifting/motorsports community in that we are all here to learn, compete and have fun and no matter how big it gets those three elements will always be at the heart of it and I have faith that if it does occur we won’t see the community get “too full of itself” at least not more than usual anyway lol.

    • NicolaAcoust

      It is also a very interesting thought, that paragraph. Good one 🙂

  • Bushin_Cat

    When I think of MOBA-style fighting games I want to see ESPN cover, I can only think of Powerstone and Iron Phoenix from Xbox.

  • Edwin Obando Chacon

    Baby steps you say… Capcom only needs to promote a USFIV PC tournament with some good sponsors like NVIDIA, INTEL, Gigabyte, AMD, Zotac, Samsung etc. so the sponsor could promote that the game will be working better with their PC parts. Cool to see some USFIV pros, with Intel and other PC/mobile brands in their uniforms as its happening on starcraft 2 and LOL tournaments. Thats where the real money is!!! With a good sponsor Capcom could give a high prize pool. SOny and Microsoft? THey dont give a shit about FG, SOny has arksys sucking balls, and both have 20 millions of Kids playing the last COD crap, a game that has been always about shooting at anything that moves.
    This is about money, not skill. COD needs ZERO skill, Dota needs some, while USFIV needs a lot of training, talent and effort.
    PC and laptop market are much, much bigger than console market(its a fact, dont take it personally), Capcom should be looking a big company on that market to promote USFIV on PC.

    • R0B0T

      You got one thing right, and that is the developer, yes the developer needs to be more involved. The developer has to be there to help give people a reason to care about the competitive nature of said game. Those reasons manifest themselves as tournaments, prize pools, and recognition on a grand scale.

      Once the player base is fueled then people who care about those players become fueled by the competition or sport of the game. So hopefully Capcom see this as an opportunity to step their game up.

  • j95lee

    I’m not surprised that ESPN is interested in esports.

    I’ve never ran a video game tourney, but I imagine the requirement is bare bones compared to MLB, NFL, or MLB. If you have a venue, consoles, games, and enough participants you’re probably halfway there.

    There aren’t any established fighting game leagues or franchises that compete with each other. Fighting game pros aren’t unionized, as far I can tell. That means no concerns about blackouts, having negotiate with multiple parties, etc. If there’s no governing body to regulate the format, prize money, and how players can be represented, ESPN could theoretically make deals with anyone for their benefit.

    What’s the requirement to be a fighting game athlete? Not much, it seems. There’s no drafting of players, no licensing requirement, no education or agents necessary. If you’re good at fighting games, you have some sort of a chance to join or move up in these tournaments. If you want to play college football, well, we know how that goes.

    • R0B0T

      I love this post. However what if this was just the beginning what if one day the entry into professional esports is just as difficult as college football/pro. MLG could be your NFL. Teams like EG could be like football teams, with drafts contracts and so on, and tournaments or “the tournament” is only ran by MLG and you have to be on a team to even dream of competing. That is sort of where I was going with another post. But there is no reason to believe it will ever be this way. And I hope it doesn’t. And if it did get this way we would all be too old to care by the time it happened.

  • genocide_cutter

    All they gonna show is Lol and Dota