A Console Player Scorned: I Want eSports to Include Consoles

Anyone who keeps up with the news in the video game industry knows just how big the world of eSports is getting. It is a huge market, and it isn’t even just sold to fans through streaming sites anymore, some matches are showing up on cable television. Fans can watch teams duke it out in their favorite games like Street Fighter V, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, Overwatch, or even Halo. The unfortunate part, for some fans is that, even if they wanted to try and build a team for their favorite game, most eSports are done on PC. Obviously, not all games are exclusive to PC since franchises built around consoles have perfectly healthy eSports circuits, including Street Fighter, Gears of War, and Smash Brothers, but those are beside the point because those take place only on console, just as League is only available on PC. So what do I mean?

I’m Very Hurt, Mr. Beauregard!

Well, let’s take Overwatch for an example. In October, Overwatch hit 20 million players across all platforms. Clearly, not every fan is playing on PC, myself included, and yet the professional players we watch ALL play on PC (I’m sure this is the part that you PC players will get snarky and say, “Well there is a reason for that N00b! PC is 1337” or something of that nature). But let’s have a meaning talk together before you just insult me and my fellow console players.

If you don’t know already, recently Blizzard (during BlizzCon) talked about making a huge open for the great amateur players in their FPS MOBA game. Take a look below, in case you missed it.

With so many people playing Overwatch this is a great idea! Now everyone that plays well has the chance to be great, paid, and contracted to play their favorite game in professional competitions. However, did you catch the overtone of the trailer there? Did you happen to notice who they were aiming at? If your answer is “PC players” then you’re right. Throughout the trailer, they showed people playing and making names for themselves and, whenever a competition was featured, they were always playing on PC.

Guess what, Blizzard? You have millions of other fans that can be a part of this grand adventure of yours. Why would you blacklist us? It is because we prefer a controller to a gigantic keyboard and mouse?

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What is wrong with creating a console league? I refuse to believe that I am all alone on this. Console players take their gaming just as seriously and you can see this in the number of sales that Microsoft, Nintendo, and PlayStation put out every year.

I have to say that I am very proud to see games like Halo, Gears of War, and Call of Duty in the eSports circuit. Mainly because they are pure console and there is clearly an outcry for it. Console players are good. We are passionate. We are gamers. Don’t get me wrong, I understand there are many games that are console only. Hell, right here at Stream.Me we do a Mortal Kombat circuit. However, games like Overwatch and Rocket League should have a console league, right?

Think about it. You get your buddies together and you know that not only are all of you good, but you know for a fact that you have what it takes to compete among the elite. This is when you turn to each other and say, “I think we could be winning money off this.” It isn’t soon before you’re playing in minor competitions at local LAN places and start to win some money with your friends. Unfortunately, that is as far as you will ever get. There will be no stadiums full of people chanting your team name, there is no merch with your team name, and there are no contracts being signed that tie you to an organization that recognized your skill. Why? Well, you play on console… Sorry.

"Ha ha We are just goofy Console players that only play for funsies! WEEE!"
“Ha ha We are just goofy Console players that only play for funsies! WEEE!”

Why This May Not Work As I Want

The biggest problem with having a full console league is, well, money. Think about what it would cost to start console league with all the bells and whistles, while simultaneously supporting a totally separate league for PC players. It’s not as if eSports as we know it today just came of left field. Ten/fifteen years in the making and players are finally making enough so that they don’t need second jobs (well except for Smash Brothers players, sorry guys). So, unless the console league is a completely funded by its own new sponsors, publishers and event organizers would have to split preexisting prize pools in half to accompany a percentage of newer pros. This doesn’t take into account games that separate regions into separate leagues, such as SMITE and Rainbow Six: Siege, which would further whittle down available funds.

Having two leagues for the same game would also drastically reduce concurrent viewership for both leagues, which could deter sponsors that would, you know, support the eSports scene and keep it alive. A perfect example of this is League of Legends, which divides players based on region. You’ve heard of Counter Logic Gaming and G2 but have you heard of Afreeca Freecs, the only team in the 2016 LCK Summer Split to go 2-0 against SK Telecom T1? Chances are, you only know who IMay is because they made it to Worlds in a massive upset. This is because fans don’t care to watch the different leagues outside of their regions, including the LPL and LCK which both have significantly smaller view counts than the NA LCS. Compare this to a game like Dota 2, where teams from all across the globe regularly play against one another in each others’ regions. Sure, there are tournament favorites, but there isn’t one region that stands prominently over the other when you regularly have Danish players compete against Sout Korean and North American teams. Viewership took a long time to get where it is today but, even then, having multiple leagues doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be more viewers. If you look at this from a sponsor’s standpoint, why would you want to invest thousands of dollars into supporting a league and players when you know that you won’t get as much exposure as you would with their larger sister league?

Financial struggles aside, it’s also worth mentioning that there is a very clear difference between console and PC gaming. As a console enthusiast, myself, the fact of matter is that our technology forces us to play a little slower. Controllers have been shown to be extremely inefficient pieces of hardware when put to the test against a mouse, which is primarily due to console players having to wobble around two stiff sticks as opposed to simply pointing and clicking with a mouse. Even with the use of attachable paddles and higher-quality controllers than the one mom bought you at GameStop, playing on a console means that you are ultimately limited to in-game settings and an awkward piece of hardware. This is why so many FPS games have what is called aim assist, a part of the game that will nudge your reticle to the side just a tad towards an enemy so you have an easier time hitting your target; controllers are considered to be so clumsy that developers actually  have to include a built-in handicap to help you out. This also comes down to player reaction time. Adding an extra step, no matter how minute, slows down players. A mouse is two actions: shift and click. A controller has move, aim, then pull the trigger. Just adding the extra step slows down gameplay. Even if it is just a half-second delay, it’s a delay that any pro will notice.

As console already lacks the speed and precision that playing with a mouse and keyboard can provide, the competitive spirit of the game continues to decline when you take into consideration that your favorite pro player is aiming with the help of an approved robot. So why not disable aim-assist for competitions? Well, as you can probably imagine, console shooters have aim assist built in for a reason: It’s difficult as hell to play without it, almost absurdly so. While some would be able to work without the cumbersome program, many cannot at this point. This doesn’t mean that aim assist is flawless, however. Think about a game like Overwatch, which is fast, frantic, and way too busy for its cumbersome aim assist, which has had a history of its own problems that Blizzard has had to go in and fix (Such as that pesky glitch where aim assist sent your sights in the wrong direction). It is exhausting being a sniper, or really any character besides the tanks, and trying to get kills without having to fight the controller. That would have to be fixed in order to have a console league. It wouldn’t be difficult for the good players to adjust. This past Extra Life I was forced to play Overwatch on PC but I used a controller with no aim assist and had no issues.

However, I believe with the Xbox One Scorpio and PlayStation 4 Pro will be able to shape that scene in a very different way. The Scorpio’s self-proclaimed stats are a brand-new Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 that has 6.5 TFLOPs of performance and has the ability  to use 4K with 60Hz. This is a huge, pardon the pun, game changer for console gamers. Reaction time aside, maybe having a faster system could help console players in their kill speed. It is a long shot but any advancements can help.

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Can’t we all just get along?

Maybe this is just the ramblings of a scorned console player. Would you like to see more console competitive leagues? As a fan of eSports, would you rather just watch the PCers because of the speed? Would you participate in a console league if it existed? If you have answers or comments to any of these just Tweet at us and let us know.

Johnny and his Beard believe the time has come, to raise the roof and have some fun. Throw away the work to be done. Let the music play on. So now everybody sing, everybody dance. Lose yourself in wild romance, we going to Parti’, karamu’, fiesta, forever…Come on and sing along. All night long! You can find the ramblings of Johnny on Twitter at @SomeBeardy2Love