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Pro Video Game Leagues — Another Economic Casualty

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the quake-me dept.

Businesses 207

Anonymusing writes "Not long ago, professional video gamer Emmanuel Rodriguez earned a base $30K salary plus prize winnings in the Championship Gaming Series. However, with the economy suffering, sponsors like DirecTV and News Corporation are backing out, leaving Rodriguez with a more typical job for a 23-year-old: store clerk. After the demise of the CPL and the Championship Gaming Series last year, the only major pro gamer league left is Major League Gaming, though it expects to turn a profit this year — some of its players earn more than six figures from the $1 million in prizes given throughout the season, while others are putting off college to work on their gaming careers." A recent story in the LA Times discusses how the games industry slow-down is hitting game developers hard as well. Conversely, the used game market is seeing significant growth — it'll be interesting to see what publishers learn from this.

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207 comments

What will they learn? (5, Insightful)

Evil_Medic1 (1345503) | about 5 years ago | (#27434129)

Probably...
"The used game market is canibalizing our sales, they must be stopped!"

Re:What will they learn? (-1, Offtopic)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 5 years ago | (#27434395)

They might also learn, that if these 'pro' players start making too much money (6 figures a year?) the federal government might have to jump in, and put a cap on those salaries.

Re:What will they learn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27434539)

only after repaying stimulus funds.... oh wait

Re:What will they learn? (2, Funny)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 5 years ago | (#27434873)

Huh? Are these gaming leagues taking in tax payer dollars in the form of stimulus packages that would give the government some say in what salaries are? Oh, they're not? So, STFU.

Re:What will they learn? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27435475)

To be honest, I'm anti capitalism and feel all jobs should have a salary cap. Nobody needs to be making six figures.

Re:What will they learn? (5, Insightful)

Stepnsteph (1326437) | about 5 years ago | (#27434695)

What they SHOULD learn is that they need to lower their #&@%ing prices. We're not talking rocket science here: People buy used games because they're - gasp! - not $60 or more. $30 to $40 is a far more realistic price range for games, and thus that's what most people are going to pay. Basic economics is a little too difficult for these people though. They'll just panic and blame used games for "cannibalizing their sales", or go on blaming piracy, or make some other inane excuse.

Times have changed, but not prices (3, Insightful)

Jabbrwokk (1015725) | about 5 years ago | (#27435267)

Damn. I used up my mod points already. You make a good point which companies are aware of, they're just too greedy to change. We're paying prices which have been the same for ages, from the days when gaming was a niche hobby and there were fewer copies of games created (which by the magic of supply and demand means they were probably more expensive to make). I remember eagerly shelling out $80 CAD for the first Dark Forces PC game the day it was released. That was unusual - a new release price was about $60, which continues to this day.

Pricing for console games is a little less obvious but I think it's pretty similar to PC game pricing. I remember Atari 2600 games costing about $10-20 (a lot of money for a kid in the 1980s, especially if you save up only to find out your new game is a real shitburger [wikipedia.org]) Nintendo games costing about $50 (an AWFUL lot of money in the late 1980s) and today a new release on any console is $50-70. Factor in inflation and the cost is probably about the same as it's always been.

But even though the cost of making games has increased, the cost of distributing them has dropped drastically. Stamping out DVDs costs pennies and electronic distribution costs even less. I still like getting a physical copy of a game - especially when the publishers put goodies like a special manual or cloth map or figurine in the box - but I would certainly sacrifice that if it meant distribution models like Steam or WiiWare would drive down prices to a more affordable range. I like Steam and WiiWare, but I only buy Steam games on weekend deals (STALKER for $5, w00t) and only use WiiWare for something I really think is worth full price. Electronic distribution needs to be $5-10 cheaper than box copies, IMO.

Re:What will they learn? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27435087)

The used game market is canibalizing our sales, they must be stopped!

Simple enough. Sell your games through Steam (or similar) so that the resale of used games is impossible.

What is the right of first sale to stand in the way of corporate profits?

Re:What will they learn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27435273)

PC games are not legally resalable anyway. Software is licensed, not sold, and the license is non-transferable.

My 3 guesses (3, Insightful)

click2005 (921437) | about 5 years ago | (#27434147)

Conversely, the used game market is seeing significant growth -- it'll be interesting to see what publishers learn from this.

1. That future games will be a 2Mb executable that downloads all the game content.
2. They need to charge more for games
3. Piracy is to blame.

Re:My 3 guesses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27434525)

Agreed. Don't forget

4) Sue EB Games/Gamestop
5) Punish the gamers that buy the game more than the pirates
6) Come up with the lamest games possible, sell at premium(oh wait they already know this one)

Re:My 3 guesses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27435141)

The biggest downfall of PC gaming was when the retail stores refused to take returns. If customers were able to return that crappy/buggy game that the marketing department forced to market, maybe the developers would get the hint to stop releasing them and actually put out a solid product.

Re:My 3 guesses (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 5 years ago | (#27435023)

One problem with your first bullet. High end games are getting HUGE. That's a hell of a lot of bandwidth on the server side along with a lot of data to push through someone's cable model. Can you imagine having to wait a day or two to play a game you just bought from Walmart?

Re:My 3 guesses (1)

click2005 (921437) | about 5 years ago | (#27435473)

I know and with the game industry seeming to love wasting more and more effort on cut-scenes and unneeded HD content its only likely to increase. Valve's Steam has shown it can work well (especially with being able to download locked games before they're released that unlock at a certain time) although 20-30Gb games will use up some people's bandwidth allowances.

I suspect in a few years we'll all be getting most of our entertainment (games, tv, movies, music & pay per view events) online with ISPs doing deals giving faster/better/earlier access to certain content.

Pizza always tastes better the next day too (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27434153)

Conversely, the used game market is seeing significant growth -- it'll be interesting to see what publishers learn from this.

Clearly they need to go straight to the "used" market. It's like "straight to DVD" in movies.

It is the drug testing that killed it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27434159)

And the fact that all our cherished heros and their records were really just the products of big pharma.

if only... (2, Funny)

Digitus1337 (671442) | about 5 years ago | (#27434183)

If only we had some players that were -really- good at "fix the economy" games. I'd grok to that.

Re:if only... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#27434591)

Get those people who are earning more than six figures each, out of a total of $1,000,000. They seem to have managed the whole 'wealth creation' thing. Or they measure their income in cents...

boohoo (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27434191)

A "professional gamer" has to get a real job? Someone call a waaaambulance.

Re:boohoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27435093)

Aww, someone's jealous.

what will publishers learn (4, Funny)

CannonballHead (842625) | about 5 years ago | (#27434195)

used game market is seeing significant growth -- it'll be interesting to see what publishers learn from this.

Ooo oo oo, I know, pick me! Publishers will learn that they should publish used games! ... hm, wait...

Re:what will publishers learn (2, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | about 5 years ago | (#27434465)

No, what they'll learn is to install even more offensive DRM that prevents you from reselling your game, so they can sell more new copies.

oh wait they're already starting to do that aren't they?

Sports Celebrities (3, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | about 5 years ago | (#27434229)

He's just a sports celebrity. That's all. You don't hear anyone crying because nobody can get sponsors for curling, do you?

If people wanted to watch other people play video games, the economy would have very little effect on his life.

Though, honestly, I've never been sure why people want to watch other people play any other sport, either.

Re:Sports Celebrities (1)

KatAngel (1454415) | about 5 years ago | (#27434479)

Those who can't do, teach. Those who can't teach, do. Those who can't do either, watch and wish they could.

Re:Sports Celebrities (2, Interesting)

steelfood (895457) | about 5 years ago | (#27434641)

It's the same reason as why the ancient Romans liked to watch gladiators do battle.

When you watch a sports team play, you are watching the fruits of countless hours of training and practice being put into use. That kind of dedication simultaneously generates awe, wonder, and respect, deservedly, I would say. And it may have been among your many unrealized childhood ambitions to do what they are doing now, or it may be one of your current fantasies, but that bit of empathy that every person has at least a little of puts you into the athlete's shoes if only for a moment. And the brief adrenaline rush from that is extremely satisfying.

That's why people watch sports of any kind. Some are more interesting to watch, depending on how well people are able to relate to it.

Personally, I'd agree with your unspoken sentiments, that it's probably more interesting to be the player than the spectator. I don't watch for entertainment any sport that I play, and I only watch critically the sports that I partake in seriously. It's why I find competitive gaming to be absolutely boring to watch. But this may not be so for others.

Re:Sports Celebrities (5, Insightful)

ptelligence (685287) | about 5 years ago | (#27434877)

That has absolutely nothing to do with why I watch women's beach volleyball.

Re:Sports Celebrities (1)

steelfood (895457) | about 5 years ago | (#27435201)

I fail to see the difference; you're also watching that which you can't touc^H^H^H^Hpartake in, and with no small amount of wonder, awe, and respect, I'll bet.

Re:Sports Celebrities (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27434831)

He's not a sports celebrity. Video games are not a sport. At best they're a skill.

Of course I argue the same about golf, while recognizing that at the "pro" level the athletic aspects of the game play a significant role. (I'm a bit more split on curling, as anybody who's ever tried to balance on ice and throw a huge rock can attest...there is _some_ athleticism there at any level.)

In any case, if one more fat kid who spent too much time living in his parents basement needs to find an actual job...I don't see this as a major loss.

what publishers learn from this (3, Insightful)

moose_hp (179683) | about 5 years ago | (#27434233)

[...] Conversely, the used game market is seeing significant growth â" it'll be interesting to see what publishers learn from this.

That DRM is good and they should disallow the selling of used games.

What? they were supposed to learn that their bussiness model can be better? that most new games cost way too much? that is not required to have a great studio spending millions of dollars to make a great game (World of Goo comes to mind, their "studio" was pretty much any coffe shop with free wi-fi)?

I may be wrong...

What they'll learn? (3, Insightful)

drsquare (530038) | about 5 years ago | (#27434295)

Perhaps that in a recession people cut back on luxuries, and that a computer game is less important than a mortgage repayment.

Re:What they'll learn? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27435073)

No, the computer game is a necessity, it's clearly an important piece of the American dream, therefore something every American has a right to own. The government can step in and cover the mortgage repayment.

Re:What they'll learn? (1)

esocid (946821) | about 5 years ago | (#27435161)

or that people will buy games frugally. In the depression (the 1930s one), I think escapism helped some entertainment industries boom: clubs, movies, variety shows. While people now are less inclined to leave their homes or go somewhere where a TV isn't present, they still need something to escape their daily lives. Studios should bite the bullet and price their games down 8%, or whatever, and see that maybe their sales might increase, rather than the standard $50 game which hasn't seemed to change for a couple years.

What pays the bills... (1)

geekmux (1040042) | about 5 years ago | (#27435337)

Perhaps that in a recession people cut back on luxuries, and that a computer game is less important than a mortgage repayment.

Ah, when you sit back and read how some are earning six figures doing this, you quickly realize WHAT is paying that mortgage...

Bottom line is whether it's 15 minutes or 15 seconds, if you're offered fame these days, you better TAKE IT while you can. Might not come around as often in this economy, but use your skillz while you still have them, and get paid well. Hand-eye coordination and reflexes aren't exactly something that sticks with you through your 30s and 40s, so good luck to those who actually think they're turning this into some sort of "career"...

No surprises there (3, Insightful)

godfra (839112) | about 5 years ago | (#27434313)

The problem with competitive gaming is that it's more exciting to play the game than it is to watch someone else, even if they are way better than you.

The way to keep people interested is to involve them. Simply presenting video gaming in the same manner as a football match isn't really enough.

Re:No surprises there (4, Informative)

evilNomad (807119) | about 5 years ago | (#27434533)

You must be an expert, because the users, more than 200.000 unique a month, on my site that is dedicated to broadcasting Counter-Strike matches, sure beg to differ with your conclusion..

Re:No surprises there (1)

megaditto (982598) | about 5 years ago | (#27434847)

Link? I am kind of curious what it looks like.

(By 'it' I mean both Counter-Strike matches and your servers melting down.)

Re:No surprises there (1)

evilNomad (807119) | about 5 years ago | (#27434895)

Well since you ask, http://www.hltv.org/ [hltv.org] - I do believe my servers will keep up just fine though.. :)

But note that you cannot watch matches without having Counter-Strike installed, which in turn makes the spectator numbers even more impressive if you ask me..

Re:No surprises there (1)

Qetu (732155) | about 5 years ago | (#27435075)

No, it only makes your spectators a subset of the millions of CounterStrike players.

I beg to differ (3, Interesting)

chrisG23 (812077) | about 5 years ago | (#27435291)

I like watching competetive starcraft matches much more than playing it. In South Korea, there are 12 professional starcraft teams of 7-14 members each, that play one another in the team pro-league. On top of that there are 3 single player tournament leagues (OSL - Ongamenet Starleague, MSL - MBC Starleague, and GomTV Invitational) that run pretty much concurrently. The games are televised, the best players make a decent living when you take their team base salary + tournament winnings + sponsorships into account (6 figure salaries for the better ones) and the level of play is unbelievable, because they have to practice 8-12 hours a day to keep their skills at a competitive level.

You can check out english broadcasts of games at gomtv.net as they hired an American to do live English commentary of their tournaments. There is a nice archive of games. However the Gomtv tournament is newer and not the best quality wise(as in the best players focus their practice on the other tournaments and their team proleague events). There are fans on youtube that take the korean broadcasts of games and tournaments and dub themselves over the korean commentary. Check out the youtube user account "violetak" or "klazartsc" if interested, there are more than a dozen more other people doing regular commentary and uploading to youtube, mostly of the Korean scene as it is superior, but also of the "foreign" scene (which in this case means any player not residing in Korea).

Pro-Video Gamer??? (1)

WTF Chuck (1369665) | about 5 years ago | (#27434369)

The thing that I find to be most outrageous is that there are pro video gamers in the first place. Last I checked, they weren't showing up anywhere on ESPN. WTF, was that just some sort of feeble attempt by the game publishers to get more people buying their warez? "Oh, if you get really really good, we will pay you to play video games all day long. (You gotta be in the top 0.0000005% to get that though, in the meantime we will still take your $$$)"

The publishers didn't much care. (1)

EWAdams (953502) | about 5 years ago | (#27434559)

For the most part the pro-gaming leagues were set up by random entrepreneurs, not game publishers. Yes, they represented publicity. But the jury is still very much out on whether people will pay to watch other people play video games. They do in Korea, for sure, but not in the USA. So it was never obvious that the PR they represented was really worth the expense of running them. That's why it wasn't the publishers that set them up.

Re:The publishers didn't much care. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27434957)

Yeah, to be honest I'd say most companies were actually against it. Valve regularly would push updates that you were forced to use that completely shifted or broke gameplay.
The only exceptions would be Blizzard and ID, both of which run their own tournaments.. but they both keep their competitive play second to attracting new players.

Frankly as a 'pro-gamer', Im glad its crashing down. The scene is awful. Bunch of 16 year old kids who bitch about tourneys not having >$5k purses. Pro gaming used to just be enthusiasts having fun trying to be the best. People would go out of their way to enter tournaments even though they knew even if they won first place, it wouldnt pay for itself. They played because it was fun and they enjoyed it. Youg ot to meet a lot of great peple and have experiences most peple never get.

Now its just people saying "GG BAD EPIC FAIL LOLOL" not wanitng to build any kind of community. Maybe once the money is gone it can go back to people actually looking for enjoyment?

Re:The publishers didn't much care. (4, Insightful)

2short (466733) | about 5 years ago | (#27435185)

"People would go out of their way to enter tournaments even though they knew even if they won first place, it wouldnt pay for itself. They played because it was fun and they enjoyed it."

If it didn't pay for itself, you weren't a pro. That's not meant as a slam, just a definition.

Re:Pro-Video Gamer??? (1)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about 5 years ago | (#27435387)

How is pro video gaming any different than pro golf or pro football? The bottom line is you're being paid to play a game and that's it. Neither is a productive activity. You also need to realize that pro gamers take their craft very very seriously and dedicate many hours a day to improving their skills. These aren't kids goofing around for a couple of hours a day to beat on their friends. They are as serious about competitive gaming as any pro athlete is about their sport. To be even a good amateur gamer takes quite a bit of effort.

Pro-video gamer vs. ??? (1)

geekmux (1040042) | about 5 years ago | (#27435547)

The thing that I find to be most outrageous is that there are pro video gamers in the first place. Last I checked, they weren't showing up anywhere on ESPN. WTF, was that just some sort of feeble attempt by the game publishers to get more people buying their warez? "Oh, if you get really really good, we will pay you to play video games all day long. (You gotta be in the top 0.0000005% to get that though, in the meantime we will still take your $$$)"

Er, the " top 0.0000005%" eh? And how is this ANY different from ANY other professional sport in the top leagues? What percentage of pee-wee league kids are you going to see in the Superbowl in 20 years? I'd probably say it's around "0.0000005%".

IMHO, video gamers are no more "professional" than bowlers or golfers. Yes, it all takes dedication by all which I fully respect, but hitting little white balls with a stick or knocking down sticks with a ball can seem just as pointless, yet we pay them hundreds of millions to do it.

A little help (5, Interesting)

Useful Wheat (1488675) | about 5 years ago | (#27434393)

To be honest, I've never really understood how the pro gaming leagues really made any money. I understand that sponsors will give money to anything (re: Pizza hut advertising on a NASA rocket http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=2202 [spaceref.com]), but this is no excuse. At the very most I'm indifferent about how well other people play the games I play, and I'm pretty sure most of my friends are the same way. The economy is just a useful scapegoat in this situation. Let's take a survey: How many of you enjoy watching other people play video games? How many of you have dismissed players that dominate you as having spent way too much time playing video games? What's your favorite kind of cheese? I'm partial to those Kraft American Singles.

Re:A little help (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27434703)

I'll bite!
1) Do you enjoy watching other people play video games?

If its a round robin passing of the controller I'm down.

2) How many of you have dismissed players that dominate you as having spent way too much time playing video games?

Far too many to count.

3) What's your favorite kind of cheese?

Smoked Swiss.

I wold also like to add this question:

4) When was the last time game you had purchased that had replay value?

Last year, Little Big Planet

Re:A little help (1)

Narishma (822073) | about 5 years ago | (#27434753)

I suppose you are talking about competitive video games. If that's the case, then yes I enjoy watching how others play. It's no different than watching a match of tennis or chess. Do you also wonder why people watch those instead of going out and playing the sport themselves?

Re:A little help (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27435587)

Do you also wonder why people watch those instead of going out and playing the sport themselves?

Well, I do. I find that playing the game/sport myself is infinitely more satisfying than watching someone else play it. I've never understood what's so fun about watching a bunch of sweaty dudes run after a ball. But whatever, to each their own, eh?

I guess the point of the story is that nobody puts "virtual" sports on the same category as "real" sports, and so they fall victim to the current economic climate first.

Allow my to advance an hypothesis full of prejudice: the people that would enjoy watching or playing video games are very different than the people that would enjoy watching or playing real-life sports (AFK sports?). In that the former are a bit more, huh, cerebral, and have an easier time moving on to something different now; whereas the latter are much more reliant on whatever more primal instincts are satisfied by sports (belonging to a crowd / defeat of your enemies / whatever).

Yeah, I don't know either.

Well, it's kind of like cycling. (1)

MrCrassic (994046) | about 5 years ago | (#27434761)

I am very passionate about cycling, and tried racing, but didn't like it. However, niche sports like these all suffer from the same problem:

They don't have a mass audience.

There are millions of people that will watch a game of football, baseball, basketball or soccer (especially soccer) on a (n>inf)" widescreen plasma LCD TV (or any TV, really) at home, or in the pub/bar, supermarket, while shopping, etc. I postulate that a reason for this is that the action and "spirit" of each sport caters to different, but sufficiently large, populations. Those that like lots of back and forth action watch basketball, and those that like a bit of brutality in that action watch football or hockey. (Yes, I'm generalizing here.) Those that like calculated behaviors, but sparse explosions of action, watch something like baseball. Etc. ad nauseum. Additionally, there is nothing that can replace these sports. They are popular and irreplaceable, hence they garner a large market.

Sports like cycling, on the other hand, have very little action except for possibly the end. Has anyone ever actually watched a professional bike race? They are LONG, and riders spend most of that time collaborating tactically with each other to reach and sprint for the finish. They HELP each other throughout the race; where's the competition? Unless you are a real enthusiast, you can't watch a bike race in a bar, or anywhere fun. At least for me, it's hard to even watch it at home, and I love cycling. Top that with the ridiculous amount of doping incidents (that do make the press, since ESPN cares to write about THAT than actually broadcast races), and you have yourself a mass loser.

Gaming suffers the same fate. Only gamers would want to watch gamers play. There are outliers, but they are just that. But there's a community in gaming, and gaming is a competitive activity. Competitive activities promote classification and ranking, thus justifying the existence of a professional category playing in large tournaments. Professionals spend all day perfecting their craft, and it would make little sense to not receive compensation for it, thus explaining the proliferation of sponsors and salaries.

I think that talent could be used somewhere else with a more widespread outcome, like solving difficult problems in economics. However, it must be pretty cool to live off of gaming (for the gamers, that is).

Re:A little help (3, Interesting)

NigelT (1265592) | about 5 years ago | (#27435021)

I can see how you might find it hard to understand video games as a spectator sport...but usually, The people watching are avid gamers themselves, they know the mechanics of the game involved and at least in my experience, enjoy watching others demonstrate their ability, or sometimes inability to do well in whatever the game of choice may be. Nevermind the whole competition aspect of it...

Re:A little help (2, Insightful)

CyberLord Seven (525173) | about 5 years ago | (#27435347)

i) How many of you enjoy watching other people play video games?

You do know that IN THE BEGINNING we used to stack quarters on the machines and wait our turn. If some bastard was really good he could keep the crowd waiting until people started to give up and pick up the quarters and leave.

Damn, that used to feel good! :)

Oh, wait, you wanted to know if I enjoyed watching other people play.

The answer is Hell, yes! How do you think I ever learned to play the original Street Fighter? You remember, the one with the HUGE red pads you smacked real hard to hit your opponent. And then the damn things started to get brittle and crack and break.

ii) How many of you have dismissed players that dominate you as having spent way too much time playing video games?

Everytime some ass-wipe beats me, unless it's one of my nephews. Then I just threaten to look at his grades for the last semester. If the grades are not up where they belong it keeps the trash talk to a minimum. :)

iii) What's your favorite kind of cheese? I'm partial to those Kraft American Singles. Extra Sharp Cheddar. Goes good on cheese-burgers, pizza, chili-dogs, nachos, and most anything you put in your mouth with the exception of a nice, warm teat.

And to answer the anonymous coward:

iv) When was the last time game you had purchased that had replay value?

Sad to say, Perfect Dark 0, and Kameo. Too bad the crappy XBox360 died on me.

Re:A little help (1)

JMZero (449047) | about 5 years ago | (#27435449)

I don't understand how people watch, say, Halo 3 or Street Fighter (though I love playing Street Fighter).. Certainly there's strategy in those games, but much of it is not apparent in the default view, and is often eclipsed by execution skill that isn't entertaining - at least not after a while.

On the other hand, a game like Starcraft is made to be watched (and many, many people do including myself). With a good observer (and commentator helps too), you can really get a feel for the strategy involved.

I get owned if I play Starcraft online, but I seldom feel any animosity towards the person that beat me. Starcraft is a game where the learning-over-time curve takes a long time to flatten out, and I'm very near the start. I think people who've spent time getting very good at it have been doing something that's satisfying and lot of fun.

Too bad, so sad (1, Troll)

WhoIsThePumaman (1182087) | about 5 years ago | (#27434511)

This guy makes more than I do with his salary, sponsors and winnings than I do in a year, and I'm a video game developer. I never understood "Major League Gaming". I can understand local tournaments at arcades and pizza parlors, at least there you get outside and be sociable with the rest of the world and have an in-person experience. But watching a screen depicting someone else watching a screen? How much more recursive can we get? Professional Major League Gaming Watching? Physical contact sports I can understand. We're essentially watching athletes who hone their bodies engage in feats of physical endurance and skill, and we admire such classical expositions of strength. I can understand professional Chess tournaments to a lesser extent; great minds coming together to wage war on a physical board in a centuries-old game of intellect. But paying out six figure salaries to people who can click (or button-press) very fast in an order that is more efficient than his/her opponent? Major League Gaming truly is the product of fat and decadent times.

Re:Too bad, so sad (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#27434813)

I'm not sure why watching someone excel in one skill, be it running or playing chess, is more interesting than watching someone excel at another. Unless you believe that button pressing is intrinsically non-skilful (but isn't your job just pressing buttons in the correct order to produce games?) People watch professional snooker or darts, and they're really just tests of your hand-to-eye co-ordination and ability to approximate trigonometry; what's different about a computer game, other than the fact that it's often testing reflexes as well?

I don't have any desire to watch people play computer games, but then I've never really seen the attraction in watching sports (or chess). Playing, yes, and with most sports that has the beneficial side effect of getting you outside and getting some exercise, but watching them just strikes me as dull.

Could be worse. Could be poker (2, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | about 5 years ago | (#27435323)

Watching people play cards is now a televised "sport".

Maybe if people played video games for money....

Re:Too bad, so sad (1)

ChayD (1522831) | about 5 years ago | (#27435553)

I concur. Whilst I understand there is a lot of skill required to be a gamer, I couldn't personally convince myself that it's a true sport (in much the same way that I couldn't see 'professional hotdog eater' as a sport). Along the same lines, I've noticed that poker is also becoming more of a spectator sport. Curious times indeed.

Used games or no games at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27434617)

I can't even remember the last game I bought new. I've purchased games since my earliest experiences in gaming and the day they take those away is the day I stop buying games. I don't care whether its a retailer, the original publisher, or some chap on Craigslist/eBay/et al, I just want used items at those wonderful prices. And I don't mind waiting two years for those prices to become wonderful.

Digital download FTW! (4, Interesting)

EWAdams (953502) | about 5 years ago | (#27434631)

If the retailers aren't careful, they'll kill off their own source of supply. Used games are a big win for them and a big win for the consumer, and a big loss for the publishers. If the retailers drive the publishers to digital distribution ONLY, they won't have anything left to sell.

You'll notice that major bookstores don't sell used books, only new ones.

Within 20 years games may become a service like cable TV, not a product you buy and take home.

Re:Digital download FTW! (1)

steelfood (895457) | about 5 years ago | (#27435289)

There are separate stores for used books. It's a separate market from new books, though used book stores may sell the occasional new book.

One reason for the difference is that people hold on to their books far longer than they hold on to their video games. So having a smaller supply, used books tend to be a much smaller market. Very old books go out of print, while old games either cannot be played (format change), or can be found via other sources (P2P). So while very old books can be worth a pretty penny, very old games probably aren't worth cents.

Re:Digital download FTW! (1)

SScorpio (595836) | about 5 years ago | (#27435495)

Within 20 years games may become a service like cable TV, not a product you buy and take home.

Last week at GDC there was a company called OnLive that set off a major buzz. Your 20 years might be a little pessimistic if the service takes off.

http://www.onlive.com/ [onlive.com]

Developing story (5, Funny)

lupinstel (792700) | about 5 years ago | (#27434653)

In light of this news EA Sports has decided to cancel their new game "Major League Gaming - The Game 2K9".

duh (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 5 years ago | (#27434663)

Conversely, the used game market is seeing significant growth â" it'll be interesting to see what publishers learn from this.

Quit making the same games as each other and quit making so many damned sequels and then maybe people will see value in what you produce.

What they'll learn? (1)

Thaelon (250687) | about 5 years ago | (#27434701)

They'll probably learn nothing.

But they'll probably add more DRM in the future, lobby harder, and generally give us less while attempting to charge more.

Seems to be their typical reaction to any type of change or encroachment on their nearly obsolete business models. While I don't believe hard copy game selling will ever die as long as we have walmart, it's not a market that is growing as fast as digital delivery.

Re:What they'll learn? (1)

evilkasper (1292798) | about 5 years ago | (#27435611)

Agreed, and I also see hard copy video games sticking around for a different reason. The major ISP's are playing with transfer caps, and quite frankly, even on the best connection available to me (15Mbps) download a multi Gig game still takes longer than driving to the store. So until our infrastructure is beefier I do not foresee the death of hard copies.

Needs better presentation (1)

locopuyo (1433631) | about 5 years ago | (#27434763)

MLG does all of their videos online, live streaming and video on demand. Their presentations are good and make the game fun to watch. StarCraft is going strong in South Korea because their presentations and announcer make it fun to watch. That Gaming Championship thing was presented horribly so it failed. They showed minute long clips of people playing the games and jumped around sporaticly to different games with announcers that were far from experts on the games being played. You never had any idea what was going on. They had a women's DOA separated from a men's DOA.... There were idiots running it. It deserved to fail. Just present it like they do with succussful popular sports. You have a couple of announcers and show the game on screen. You don't jump around between 20 different things. It really isn't any different than showing something like football or basketball.

Bail out this industry (1)

davemabe (105354) | about 5 years ago | (#27434875)

The professional video gaming industry is part of the fabric of our country. It has become too important to fail.

I think they deserve a bailout.

putting off college to work on their gaming career (0)

jellomizer (103300) | about 5 years ago | (#27434961)

At least with "Real" Sports they go to college to play before they go pro most of the time. They may not get the best degrees however they are still learning new stuff, and if they don't go pro they at least have a degree to get a better job. But not going to college to focus on Video Games to go pro is just plane stupid. As your chances of being that good is slim. And just like what is happening you have no fall back.

Fuc4e6r (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27434981)

the most vibrant United States of aashole to others than this BSD box,

More than six figures? (1)

Daetrin (576516) | about 5 years ago | (#27434995)

"some of its players earn more than six figures from the $1 million in prizes given throughout the season"

Either i or the people who wrote the article are not using the phrase "more than six figures" properly. I would think "more than six figures" would be the same as "seven or more figures," however since the total prizes for a season is $1 million only one player could actually earn seven figures (and everyone else would get nothing.)

So presumably by "more than six figures" they mean "more that $100,000"? So if i made $100,001 in a year i would be making more than six figures? That seems rather counter-intuitive to me. I definitely think of myself as "just" a five figures person even though i make considerably more than $10,000 a year.

Re:More than six figures? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27435231)

Well...I make considerably more than $50,001 a year. So I think I'll just round-up to a 6 figure salary.

There. Feel so much more successful now!

Re:More than six figures? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27435253)

I think the author meant 6 significant figures, so they make somewhere in the $1000.00 to $9999.99 range...

Re:More than six figures? (1)

Anonymusing (1450747) | about 5 years ago | (#27435441)

Well, there were a couple of problems with the submission...

  • It's not "more than six figures", it should be "as much as six figures".
  • The six figures are not solely derived from the $1 million; most of the six figure money comes from sponsors, not prizewinnings.

Sorry about that. Badly summarized, I admit.

Starcraft (1)

overzero (1358049) | about 5 years ago | (#27435039)

I follow the Korean Starcraft leagues fairly closely and haven't seen anything indicating that this is a problem for them. There's only one major pro league left if you ignore the most successful leagues. Unlike my impressions of MLG and their ilk, which seem like slapped-together attempts to occupy a novelty niche, these leagues have survived for the same reasons all other sports leagues have survived: the focus is always on using the games to generate stories which even non-players can sink their teeth into. Without giving their audience a reason to watch, other than being interested in a particular game at a particular time, the other leagues doomed themselves long ago. As with many other businesses, blaming their deaths on the economy is like blaming a cold for killing an AIDS patient.

Why should I care? (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 5 years ago | (#27435193)

I know... marketing, free market economy and whatnot... But

I think many people actually playing professional sports get paid way too much money. I do understand the limited lifetime of their careers and that skill is involved, but seriously - it's a game.

Paying people to *pretend* to play sports is silly. I do understand that there is some (button-pressing) "skill" involved, but seriously - it's a video game.

We can get along.... (1)

Doghouse Riley (1072336) | about 5 years ago | (#27435401)

...without pro gaming leagues, scrapbooking stores, and feng shui consultants.

But when the last cell-phone-cover kiosk closes down, ladies and gentlemen, the new Dark Age truly will be upon us.

Um... (1)

rgviza (1303161) | about 5 years ago | (#27435467)

>it'll be interesting to see what publishers learn from this.

People have less disposable income when the economy is in the toilet, and (duh...) games are a luxury?

It doesn't take an economist (or game publisher) to figure that one out.

I'm just a regular developer (as opposed to game developer) and I know this ;)

-Viz

Learn from car dealers (1)

ultravibe (1124587) | about 5 years ago | (#27435515)

...it'll be interesting to see what publishers learn from this.

Maybe they'll start selling "Certified Pre-Owned" games.

pre-pwned?

Yep, (1)

kuzb (724081) | about 5 years ago | (#27435529)

Now he has to get a real job like the rest of us. My heart really bleeds for this guy. Really.

What They'll Learn (1)

CompassIIDX (1522813) | about 5 years ago | (#27435555)

Probably what Namco [destructoid.com], EA [joystiq.com] and Capcom [1up.com] have learned. Namely, you don't have to actually let the user access the full game they bought for full price anymore. You're free to lock content on their disc, then charge them for it again later (or even on release day) via DLC. Best of all, after basically spitting in the faces of your biggest fans, they'll fall over themselves [gamespot.com] to defend you for it on the Interwebs.

My own personal buying habbits. (1)

taxman_10m (41083) | about 5 years ago | (#27435621)

I have an older computer that can't run most new games, but on games it can run I wait until Best Buy is selling the game new for $20. For console games my sweet spot is also $20, but rarely do any of the new console games reach $20 new, so I just buy them used at Gamespot.

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