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The community’s influence in esports – Rae Moors

Rae Moors continues the conversation by discussing the influence of the community on game design and industry reaction to fan feedback.
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<v ->Ray.</v> You mentioned the idea that Esports games are owned by companies, but we have seen fans pressure companies to make changes to games before. Have you come across any noticeable, notable instances of fan influence on game design during your research? <v ->In my research, it’s relatively rare,</v> but there are instances where you can see industries having to address concerns from different points or taking into account feedback. It may be more so than even pressure and responding to pressure, to change things in games as they get developed. So actually, one really important thing about this for Esports is the fact that the game is constant… Esports games are constantly being updated.
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It’s no longer the case where you just go and purchase a game and then that’s it. The game is done. You’re never going to see it change. Because there are constant changes happening, companies always are going to have to be cognizant of the discourses going on around the changes they make. They have complete total teams that are dedicated to sort of looking at responses and looking to… at player feedback, Many different kinds of player feedback. So both competitive people who play the game competitively, maybe people who play it more for fun. Sort of trying to balance conflicting, conflicting wants and needs of their audiences.
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So in some ways, yes, I can see, especially in the bigger, more constantly updated games that you can see played in Esports, you’re going to see developers have to take into account feedback and pressure. Whether that’s a causal relationship, is often really, really hard to determine in industry research. Industries are rarely going to have a spokesperson come out and say, “Enough people got mad about this one change that we decided to redo the whole thing.” It’s never going to be that straight forward. So you always kind of have to put a little asterisk next to any of these claims you make.
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But yeah, that’s what research is at the end of the day, looking at all the available evidence and saying, this is probably what happened. This is, this probably explains the logic that they were using. So in some ways, no, in my own research, but in other ways, yes, I can see this happening. <v ->Yeah.</v> I can imagine it’s very complicated to try to balance the wants and needs of all these different audiences when developing a game, updating a game, or changing a game. As you mentioned before, Esports games are not like regular sports. There’s no patch for basketball to make scoring easier, but it could be a patch to make a headshot easier to get.
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So I think that’s really interesting. And I also know that there are some notable examples of companies sort of not getting that balance right. We can go back to tripping in Smash Brothers as a thing that is not really designed for competitive play. Earlier we were talking a little bit about ownership of the games. And I wanted to take a step back. In addition to just the ownership of the game, we’re seeing some developers take steps to develop Esports leagues themselves. For example, Overwatch League is actually run by Activision Blizzard. And League of Legends has various franchise leagues all across the globe.
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Given sort of the financial potential benefits that these companies (clears throat) could gather, do you see the industry shifting ownership of Esports from communities where sort of it started to the developer?
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<v ->I can see them try it.</v>
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You can definitely see certain companies trying to do this. It is not Universal, that’s important. And to varying degrees, the different companies will want to have control over things. So to some extent, a good
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a good example of this might be the difference in oversight Riot has over League of Legends or Activision Blizzard has over Overwatch versus the sort of oversight Nintendo gives over Super Smash Bros. Nintendo isn’t as interested in that scene based on what they believe their business model to be and what they believe their audience and I… future in the industry to be. So, yes, I can definitely see that some companies are going to pivot to this.
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I think the extent to which it’s going to become sort of integral or otherwise a regular occurrence is yet to be seen, but that’s sort of what makes it fun right now is to see how these different, at least for me, as an industry researcher, to see how these different companies are trying to do this and where they’re sort of tripping over themselves or finding some success and then who’s mirroring it’s, it’s very nice to watch as an outsider at this point. <v ->Yeah,</v> this is, I think, a very interesting point that we’ll have to look as it develops, but there’s been a lot of grassroots organizations in Esports.
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You know, if we think really far back to early competitions in Street Fighter Two before Capcom introduced the Capcom Pro League, or even setting high scores in games like Donkey Kong as a form of competition, those are really sort of home grown. And so I think this new wave of officially licensed leagues, and teams, and with jerseys, and becoming more professional, I think is going to be an interesting development as we look at Esports going into the future. <v ->Yeah.
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I think to echo something I said a little</v> earlier about like this tension between the authority held by fans and players and lookers versus the authority held over games by their developers and owners, it’s going to continue in Esports the same way it has always existed in gaming cultures. The same way that competitive gaming has always had these sort of grassroots up from the bottom. They’re always going to be grassroots up from the bottom communities that just get together on Saturday night to play Smash, and they don’t care what the formal league is necessarily. Maybe they don’t even watch. People who play the games competitively might not even watch these leagues.
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And so you’ve got all these different ways of engaging with this media.
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The made… the big, very like the people who have the money, these companies are going to try to industrialize these grassroots and community led initiatives in Esports, but they’re never going to eliminate them. I don’t think.

In this video, Rae Moors continues the conversation by discussing the influence of the community on game design and industry reaction to fan feedback.

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