Let’s pay our respects to these struggling eSports titles

8 min read
5

It’s common these days to hear a developer speak about “their next biggest eSports” title. It’s an industry which Newzoo predicts will reach $1 billion by 2019, and that’s a considerable estimation when looking at just how much it has grown in a year. Often developers and publishers bring out titles which look great upon announcement but fail to either compete in their specific genres, or have outdated and unwanted models which chase consumers away. Some of them looked great, and perhaps were fun for a  time being, but now they’ve fallen into the abyss and deserve some remembrance for their attempts at cracking a booming market. Warning: Some of your favourite games might be on this list. Read with caution.

Infinite Crisis

A comic book themed, DC Universe MOBA? This is what I’ve been waiting for all my life. This was the general consensus when Turbine and Time Warner announced their next biggest eSports title along with an amazing cinematic trailer to hype up fans. Now, this list will be filled with failed MOBAs because, let’s face it, that genre is dominated by League of Legends and Dota 2. In the end, the best part of the game was the trailer.

Unfortunately for Turbine and Time Warner there was no place for a casual MOBA and development on the game was cancelled after two months of being released. It was poorly timed perhaps as Heroes of the Storm, another casual MOBA, had just gone into open-beta and would eventually be free to play, but we all know how that eSport turned out. Infinite Crisis is the MOBA we deserve, but not the MOBA we need right now.

Heroes of Newerth

Remember that interstitial phase between the original Dota and Dota 2? The HoN phase? Well, if you don’t, Heroes of Newerth was a Dota clone as heroes drew a ton of similarities from the old Blizzard Warcraft III mod. It was a game a lot of professional Dota players moved to when they got tired of outdated graphics and slowly fading competitive scene. HoN could have been great, but it came one year after League of Legends, and two years later Dota 2 went into alpha, and that was the unfortunate end of Heroes of Newerth. The game still has a small player-base for some unknown reason, but it was a crucial first step for most MOBA players before we moved on to either League of Legends or Dota 2.

Heroes of Newerth

Competitively HoN did well. It had a flourishing competitive scene for a short span of time with many professional players who still reside within the competitive Dota 2 and LoL communities. 2009-2012 Was an awkward time for any MOBA, and HoN will always be remember as Dota 1.5.

Starcraft II

Starcraft is accredited as one of the eSports which started it all. Some will argue it was Quake, others will argue that competitive gaming began in Arcades in the 80s. However, the model we see today began with Starcraft back in the early 2000s, and really it was an amazing eSport. I understand that Starcraft still considerably big in some parts of the world, but it’s nowhere near as big as it once was. In 2011-2012 Starcraft was one of the biggest eSport titles. League of Legends was slowly growing, Dota 2 was in beta, and Counter-Strike was in a really awkward phase. Starcraft II filled stadiums, Airplane hangers, and even beaches as millions of people tuned in around the world. It was broadcast to television, strongly aided by the South Korean scene. So what went wrong? Why is this a failed eSport?


This was the OSL Grand Finals in an Airplane hanger in Korea. Incredible.

A number of reasons really, but it’s fair to place a lot of blame on the competitive South Korean scene where a number of top players, celebrities in their home countries, were caught match fixing which slowly killed the integrity of the competitive scene. There’s also the constant balancing issues in true Blizzard fashion where an underpowered race or unit receives an incredible buff and visa versa for an overpowered unit or race. On top of that let’s not forget full retail price expansions every few years which essentially changed the meta upon each release. Finally, and this probably one of the biggest reasons, 1v1 games seemed to fall as team based games drew in bigger crowds and aided the understanding of eSports allowing less knowledgable viewers to relate to teamwork over watching one person perform over 600 actions per minute on tiny little units.

Starcraft II is still a big eSport and events such as BlizzCon and IEM still draw in admirable numbers, but it’s nowhere near what it used to be.

Read  Get a closer look at what ray-tracing brings to Metro: Exodus

Rocket League

Rocket League is still a great game, but as an eSport it unfortunately has fallen on some tough times. To their amazement developers Psyonix hit the jackpot with their response to Rocket League. The game exploded upon release and still has a large number of players to this day, but unfortunately their hopes and aspirations for a competitive eSport title fell short. ESL picked it up as one of their league titles, but that’s really all we saw bar a number of tournaments here and there.

Rocket League

Rocket League has brought many players endless fun as it ties in the two greatest things ever – cars and football, but the market unfortunately does not exist for that specific genre. It’s a skillful game and easy to understand, but the casual aspect haunts even the best games in the industry. The game still does considerably well in terms of viewership. Over 6000 teams signed up for the Rocket League Championship Series, but it’s slowly dwindling when compared to the other dominant games in the industry.

Battlefield

I know this one is going to get some heat, but you have to understand this hurts me as much as it hurts you. Battlefield is perhaps one of the best FPS games I’ve ever played. It incorporates artillery and vehicles, has amazing graphics, and exciting gameplay. Battlefield 2 and 3 still hold some of my fondest memories, but I can’t help but feel the game has lost its edge in the past few years. Tournaments are smaller and the viewership has dwindled to a few thousand. Major tournament struggle and there’s no real development into eSports. The spectating client is horrible, and it really just doesn’t make for a good eSport.

Battlefield 2

However, I am holding thumbs for Battlefield 1 which looks amazing and could possibly save the title. Games these days are made with eSports in mind and I’m assuming this is what DICE and EA are doing when considering the competitive probability of the game. Games like Battlefield and Call of Duty have often struggled since each few years a new title is released and this changes the game completely. This model is a double edged sword as it promotes changes and excitement for a new title, but at the cost of damaging longevity of a title which could have been great. Everyone knows Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty 4 were the best eSports titles to come out of each company.

These are just a few titles which have been forgotten, but it’s exciting to know that developer’s are placing emphasis on eSports and right now we can all focus on Overwatch as it is probably the best game, ever.

Like esports?
Check out esports central

Last Updated: June 17, 2016

Kyle Wolmarans

Critical Hit's esports guy. I talk about esports and drink whiskey. I also write and cast for elsewhere - but my work here is independent of that.

Check Also

Destiny 2: Forsaken’s new Breakthrough PVP mode launches next week

Emphasising teamwork, skill and maybe a little luck, here’s how Breakthrough works in Dest…