Underage Players and Esports

As you may know, I’m a father of three awesome kids(19,18,13), and we play a ton of video games.  Hell, we’ve played a ton of competitive video games together as well.  So when I hear things like “thank god this event is 18+) it makes me sad.  At times I have a hard time understanding some of the stupid rules that are set up by gaming companies, federal, and state governments.

Want to drive a car? Get your learners permit at 15 and get an adult to ride around with you. Want to get married to the girl or boy of your dreams?  Not a problem.. you can do that at 14 years of age or younger in some states.  Want to shoot virtual characters in a video game at a LAN/Esports event? Fuck off..  I wish I were joking about the marriage part and the video games competition part.. but, sadly I’m not.

I’m no Lawyer, but for the life of me, I don’t understand how parental consent is not sufficient to allow “little johnny” a chance to play with his friends at an “open” LAN event.  Someone, please explain this to me?  Now, some of you will say “but, they shouldn’t be playing mature games in the first place.”

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(Team Heckleberry pictured above competing at a Call Of Duty LAN event in 2014)

Somewhere, there is a sixteen year of kid who will drive themselves to work tonight after school and work for a few hours at McDonald’s.  Then he/she will drive back home, clean up, finish up any homework they hadn’t finished, play some video games till midnight or so and do it all again tomorrow.  Yet, They’re not mature enough to play video games at a LAN event.

Before I go any further, I want to give you examples of games that are rated Mature, Adult, and Teen by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).  Just a quick note, there are other factors that come into play besides an ESRB rating of a game.

Mature 18+: Grand Theft Auto IV, Nioh, For Honor, and H1Z1: King of the Kill, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and pretty much every Call of Duty game created.

Adult 17+: Hatred, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Manhunt 2, Thrill Kill to name a few.

Teen: Overwatch, Halo 5, etc.

I wonder what sales, DAU’s, MAU’s, DLC sales, for the games listed as Mature or Adult would look like if underage players were blocked from playing the games.  I’ll go out on a limb and say sales and active users would take a massive hit.

Pretty much my entire issue is with “open” style events.  Open events should be just that, open.  This is a great way for these kids to travel to events with their parents(which is fun btw) and see their favorite game being played by their favorite pro players.  The best part is they get a chance to not only meet them, but some even get a chance to play them.

In the past, we’ve seen players who were considered top talent in games swap over from certain FPS console games to Halo 5(Rated Teen btw).  This player went on to win the North American Halo 5 championship with his professional Halo 5 team.  Kids shouldn’t have to stop playing their favorite game so that they can scratch their competitive itch that most all of us have.

I’m sure everyone will bring up traveling, and the full-time commitment required to play for one of the best teams in the world and I get that.  At the end of the day, we should ask the following questions and let parents be parents.

  1. Is the player good enough to play on my pro team?
  2. Is the player 18 or older?
  3. If no, does the player have parental consent and support from their parents?

Leave a comment and let me know what your thoughts are on the subject or tweet me.

Overwatch League Spot/City for $15 MILLION!?

I’m pretty sure unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few days you’re up to date on all of the Overwatch news regarding the Overwatch League.  There are rumors floating around that “spots” can be purchased from Overwatch with prices ranging from $2M – $15M.

Let’s talk about the price for a moment.  What’s $2M – $5M to a current team/org owner? A LOT!  I can almost count on one hand the current orgs who can afford a spot in this league based on the rumored price ranges.  Let’s stop and think for a moment… What if Blizzard doesn’t want traditional orgs to have league spots?  We’re just assuming they would want the nV’s, C9, TSM, Fanatic, NAVI’s and others part of this league.

What if they don’t?  What if Blizzard wants to truly set this league up just like a copy of the NFL for example?  How would that be received by the community?  Let us not forget this statement basedScreen Shot 2017-03-08 at 9.39.57 PM.png on this statement I can only assume Blizzard are going to take players rankings from the in-game season ranks and apply a top 500, 1,000, etc. list of players who can go into a “draft” for these CITIES… yes, CITIES not “spots.”

I fully believe you will see cities with arenas/stadiums potentially making bids to bring Esports orgs to their city in the future.  For now, I’m thinking you will see a lot of traditional sports teams jumping into the mix as a way to help fill stadiums/arenas on open dates and so on.  I also believe you will be seeing traditional sports teams from the NBA and the NFL making the largest investments into Overwatch.

With that being said, this leads me to my next question.  Does Blizzard need the current orgs for the league to have a chance?  No, the players hold the power, not the orgs.  For most Esports titles the players have all of the influencing power, and the orgs that they play for have very little influencing power.  There are only a few exceptions to this rule, and most of them are initially console based orgs like OpTic Gaming, and FaZe for example, who have a lot of influencing power.

Now that we’ve talked about traditional sports teams entering the mix for Overwatch teams.. the rumored numbers don’t seem so crazy do they?  What’s $10M to someone like Jerry Jones?  What’s $15M to Jerry Buss?  Regarding what they’re spending on their respectful teams, not that much.

With the power of new media and Esports if you can’t see how this would be a fantastic investment IF managed right, then I don’t know what else to tell you.  A lot of money is pouring into Esports right now, and the best part is we’re still on the ground level of it.  Just wait until the massive brands turn their marketing budgets and attention to the influencing power of Esports.

The $300,000 Irrelevant H1Z1 Event

Some of you will love this post, and some of you will hate it. I completely understand you regardless of if you agree or disagree with me on this but, hear me out. Please note I’m a huge fan of H1Z1 King of the Kill and at the time of writing this I have around 500 hours of play time invested into the game.

What is the $300,000 H1Z1 King Of The Kill event? I’ll tell you in Daybreak Games own words, “H1Z1: Fight for the Crown is a six-part esports docuseries coming this spring to The CW Network, with the finale featuring the first ever 5-man H1Z1: King of the Kill tournament! The 75-person tournament will feature 15 elite teams of five, including Echo Fox, Rogue Gaming, Panda Global and Denial Esports, all competing for their share of a $300,000 prize pool.”

Now that we all know what it is, I’m going to highlight a few of my issues with the event.

  • 75 person tournament based on five players per team for a total of 15 teams. Players must be ranked in the top 200 leaderboards based on “Solo scores.”
  • “The Tournament will be filmed on March 19th, 2017” in front of a live studio audience.
  • “The H1Z1: Fight for the Crown tournament will be broadcast on April 20, 2017 on The CW Network.”
  • “The actual tournament will consist of only one game where all of the prize money will be distributed. The tournament will be very high pressure and intense!”

THIS NEXT ONE IS A BIGGIE..

  • “Tournament Results and Confidentiality: Players and Teams in the Tournament must not disclose the winner of the Tournament. As the filming of the tournament will not be live, and the surprise of the winner is a crucial element to the commercial viability of the broadcast, disclosing the winner will cause the Tournament and the Sponsor irreparable harm. Therefore, all Players individually and Team agree to each pay one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) to Sponsor for any disclosure of any Player or Team’s finishing placement in the Tournament attributable to that Player or Team or disclosed by a person associated with the Player or Team. This is not a penalty but a requirement due to the loss of economic interest that Sponsor may suffer.”

Ok, let’s start from the top. The prize pool is excellent, and I’m happy Daybreak decided to go towards a team based event instead of the traditional free for all aka “solos” event.

My first issue is how players must qualify to play for a team in the event, why must all of the players be in the top 200 on the Twin Galaxies leaderboards for them to be eligible to be on a team? This makes zero sense, it’s almost like they’re saying org owners/players are too stupid to ensure they have the best team possible going into the event.

The tournament won’t be steamed in Twitch.tv in a live environment setting.. are you kidding me? Did someone forget the only reason the game is relevant, is because of Twitch and the streamers who continue to play the game regardless of all the issues the game has?

The tournament will be shown on “The CW Network” almost a month after the event is over. WHAT? WHO? WHY? Please come out and say this is all a joke?

Speaking of the event being aired on TV over a month after it’s over… you expect people to stay silent on the outcome of the event? Five players will win $180,000, and they can’t say a damn word to anyone? Have you lost your minds?

“Individual players and teams agree to EACH pay $100,000 to Sponsor for any disclosure of any Player or Team’s finishing placement.” Yes, I wanted to quote that part again as this is simply amazing! We live in a world where people want to consume content in real-time and yet we have an Esports event being treated like it’s something that should be on HBO.

This simply doesn’t work, can you imagine if E League did this with CSGO? People would be burning down the CNN headquarters in Atlanta, GA. Just recently the Call of Duty World League event had a delayed broadcast pushed one hour late to Twitch after it was aired on MLG.TV and it was laughable at best.

People in Esports and Gaming, please remember we don’t need TV to continue the incredible growth of Esports.. TV needs us! As their numbers keep declining and ours keep growing, a ton of traditional marketing budgets will continue to flow into our space.