Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 28, 2016

Email: Nintendo, Capcom, and e-sports

Hello Master Malstrom,

Thank you for your post about Nintendo and esports. Naturally, they’re praised for their “accomplishments” that are actually huge failures, and their true accomplishments and contributions to gaming are conveniently ignored. E-sports is not Nintendo’s only example, but that’s not the focus of this email.

Today I read that Street Fighter 5 sold only 100k from April to September. It launched this year in February. These sales are abysmal. Even Mortal Kombat pulls 5+ million these days.

A central part of the game’s marketing and even the design was “e-sports”. In fact, the game was rushed to market early in order to make it in time for this year’s EVO tournament. Capcom ran their own tournament tour, too, and had the SF5 footage from EVO broadcasted to ESPN2.

Thing is, despite being the most-watched game at EVO this year, the sales have been poor.

Journalists are chalking this up to the “horrible launch” by Capcom, ignoring the possibility that perhaps it is due to “e-sports” not being as profitable as everyone says it is. The game had some genuine flaws, but the fact remains that it was the first major console game where E-sports was a focus. The rushed launch I mentioned earlier? It meant that it didn’t launch with staples like an Arcade mode. Online multiplayer performance was bad. Only 16 characters with the rest trickled out as paid DLC.

Capcom made the mistake of thinking “e-sports” is a market unto itself. It’s like the Game Industry whispered, “if only you can catch that e-sports crowd, your game will sell millions” and Capcom listened. But esports isn’t a market. “E-sports” is just the natural result of when technology gets good enough (internet, streaming hardware) to show off fun-looking games. E-sports is like Let’s Plays and live streams. We don’t hear about game companies trying to hit it big with livestreamers. It’s just a thing people like to watch, but the hardcore moves in and keeps trying to legitimize e-sports.

Game companies should probably rethink chasing this “market”. If Capcom couldn’t do it with one of the oldest “e-sports” franchises and a heavy marketing push, it’s gotta be a sign that something is up. Nintendo had that clip for Splatoon in the Switch announcement. I hope they’re not seriously planning bank on e-sports with the Switch.

People say that gamers go after fads. No, we do not. It is the Game Industry that loves fads. Fads are much easier to do than make good games. Fads tend to come from a popular game that everyone copies. But we have the 3d fad, the virtual reality fad, e-sports fad, violence fad, and on and on.

I think the video is just putting the Switch in the most extreme humans as possible. When the woman stops playing 3d Mario (a good thing) to go play with her friends outside, where are they? Are they in suburbia? No. They are on a rooftop. Who the hell lives on a roof? Oh, excuse me reader, I need to stop playing Skyrim to ride an airplane where I will keep playing Skyrim. Aside from some businessmen, who are flying around all the time which you need a Switch for that? Most people would be playing Skyrim at their in-laws house during a ‘visit’, not on plane rides. I see the Splatoon ‘e-sports’ as just an extreme example of this trailer use. Although I will try to use the Switch to pick up cute blondes at the airport. I am a Malstrom after all.

Excuse me, readers, I must now end this blog post and go get in my private jet.

A realistic trailer for Switch would be people playing it and then taking the Switch to the bathroom where they sit on the toilet. But they, for some reason, did not include footage of pooping in the trailer. I wonder why.

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