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The World of eSports Are you Game Enough?

The world of eSports; what was once a simple concept at a LAN party has evolved into an enormous worldwide phenomenon. With millions of spectators watching on TV, with millions more watching online, it’s hard to ignore its popularity. Whether it is 1 vs. 1 or 5 vs. 5, the online arena offers more than just competitive play, it offers competitive pay. But the question, dear readers, is: Are you game enough?

Just how big is the eSports World?

unnamedThere was a time when only a few friends watched as you reigned supreme in Street Fighter down at the arcade. If anything, you were trying to beat your friend’s high score in Donkey Kong or Tetris. Possibly the earliest known gaming tournament was at Stanford University in 1972, for Spacewar. 

Today, eSports events attract crowds of over 5 million, including both online and in-game spectators. What were once professional Counter-Strike matches has evolved into an increasing number of games spanning multiple genres including racing, first-person shooters, fighting games and the fan-popular real time strategy games like StarCraft.

eSports Games

Regardless of their genre, each of these games have one thing in common, they are all competitive games where you are pit against each other in a struggle for the big cheese – the trophy, international fame and fans, and paycheck.

Games such as my personal favorite, League of Legends, and others like DOTA 2, StarCraft II, Counter-Strike, Warcraft III, FIFA 14, Street Fighter IV and Forza Motorsport 3 are all examples of games played on a professional level. In other words, if it has multiplayer, it’s bound to be an eSport one day.

Are you game enough for 10 people, or more?

What was 1 vs. 1 in Street Fighter or Tekken has turned into a massive arena of 10 or more players, putting their skills to the test in a “do or die” matchup. If you are serious about eSports, you need to be game enough to take on 10 or more people at the same time, if not work with them.

eSport titles such as Counter-Strike, League of Legends and DOTA 2 all require team work while others such as FIFA 14 and Forza Motorsport 3 require you to pit yourself against players in multiple team formats. There’s a competitive market for any type of gamer.

Are you game enough for a $400,000 paycheck?

unnamed-1While eSports may seem silly to many people, I guess a $400,000 paycheck is silly too, right? Many professional gamers earn in one weekend what people spend an entire year trying to earn. However, the road to that paycheck is not easy. You need to practice, practice and, practice. Did I say practice?

eSports, whether you like it or not, is becoming one of the biggest worldwide phenomenon. When most regular sports are rarely sold out, the Los Angeles Stales Center sold 15,000 tickets within 60 minutes to the 2013 League of Legends championship. With more popularity day by day, gaining even more momentum with the increasing number of competitive titles, our dreams are coming true and gamers are able to create a profession out of their passion. eSports will overtake and overshadow regular sports soon enough.

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The question is: will you be a competitor or a spectator?

Scarlett Dowdy
Project Manager

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Social Gaming Goes Hardcore with Next Gen

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It’s an exciting time to be a gamer, especially a console gamer. With the launch of the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One now just around the corner, both Sony and Microsoft have been giving us more and more glimpses of what we can expect from the next generation of console gaming at recent major industry events such as E3Gamescom, and PAX.

In addition to showing off some truly awe-inspiring graphics (made possible by cutting-edge performance improvements), both companies have spent considerable time recently highlighting the extensive online features of their new systems. These will include seamless multiplayer functionalities that now allow players to instantly jump into their friends’ live game sessions, to the simple capture and sharing capability of game footage to player networks, and a highly anticipated cloud-based game streaming service.

One additional feature has received comparatively little attention so far, but it may well be one of the most interesting and promising ones.  The next generation will finally see the cooperative and competitive combination of hardcore and social gaming. Although full details are not entirely clear, we know already that players will be able to participate in ongoing single and multiplayer game sessions in real time on a variety of mobile devices —this includes all current iOS and Android platforms.  This will be huge!

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So far only two game titles will support this capability: Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy’s The Division and Watch Dogs.  Watch Dogs probably one of the most highly anticipated upcoming games.  It is an action-adventure that combines elements from the most successful genre franchises of this generation —like Assassin’s CreedGrand Theft Auto, and Max Payne.

Watch Dogs is an action-adventure that combines elements from the most successful genre franchises of this generation, such as Assassin’s CreedGrand Theft Auto, and Max Payne. The game lets the player slip into the role of Aiden Pearce, a high-tech vigilante on a personal vendetta in a Chicago of the not-too-distant future. In both the single and multiplayer modes of the game (which seem to be strongly woven together, judging from some of the most recent gameplay footage) on-the-fly hacking (no tech is safe) is one of Pearce’s main weapons. The player will be able to use the city’s pervasive surveillance and security system (ctOS) against enemies, the police, and against the system itself.  The cooperative play on mobile devices allows additional players to enter a regular single-player session via an app and support the console player by completing smaller, sensitive tasks. Ubisoft has shown the benefits of this cooperative social gaming aspect for high-pressure escape situations, but it may well come in handy —or just be plain fun— in other scenarios, as well.

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Much less details are known so far about The Division.  It already appears to be a highly interactive gaming experience, making use of many of the new networked features of next gen consoles. At its core, the game will be a third-person shooter with RPG elements and set in New York after some not-yet-disclosed catastrophic event. Initial trailers have shown the main player teaming up with other members of an urban paramilitary unit (assumedly the eponymous “Divison”), securing parts of the largely desolate city. It’s so far not entirely clear whether some or all of the other members of a player’s unit will or can be other players on other consoles, but Ubisoft’s heightened focus on collaborative play makes that likely.

It would be exciting to see a breakdown of traditional single/multiplayer like what has been shown for Watch Dogs.  As The Division will not be among the titles available at the launch of the PS4 or the Xbox One, detailed information on this game is even scarcer. What we do know, however, is that the game will feature the integration of real-time mobile device participation in a co-op mode, or what Ubisoft calls “companion gaming.”  Mobile players will be able to take control of armed drones in a regular ongoing game session and provide air support to the console players on the ground.

Although hardcore gamers may be reluctant to embrace these features initially, they might actually have the potential to breach the persistent gap between hardcore and social gaming.  Depending on how well these new co-op platform mechanics are executed, hardcore gamers may in turn come to appreciate, even rely on, the support of their mobile partners more and more.

Guido Schenkel
Senior Project Manager EU

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New developments in iPhone apps play to the importance of human interaction in virtual landscapes

So I’m reading this article in Business Week about the future of gaming on Apple consoles, and by consoles I mean the iPhone. Apple has long neglected the poor Mac, leaving me playing Roller Coaster Tycoon to satisfy my computer gaming needs (Purposely leaving WOW on the shelf for fear of giving my soul away to Blizzard). Well, it looks like they have some pretty cool things in store for gaming applications on the Iphone.

The most exciting part of this news is the inclusion of multiplayer capabilities on the iPhone as a handheld gaming device. This idea has been attempted with the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP but it was too difficult to connect to other players in any sort of fun gaming environment. You basically have to know who you want to play with in order to set anything up. Hopefully the iPhone applications will have some sort of lobby function, or even an auto connect with other random players trying to set up games.

In a world where connectivity is expanding at a lightning speed rate, gamers want to pit their skills against other live human beings. Artificial intelligence, for the time being, pales in comparison to what the human brain offers. Instead of giving a single player a world to operate in, pitting themselves against scripts and AI, multiplayer offers an environment in which multiple brains can interact, create and compete.

Working together towards a common cause

Working together toward a common cause

People want to share their experiences with others. Ever since one of the first video games, Pong, it has always been more fun to play with another person than it was to play against the computer. Even when the game was strictly one player, like the original Mario, sharing the experience with another person, trading controllers, was ultimately more fulfilling than playing by yourself.

The fact that these features are just starting to come to iPhone applications is a little surprising. I guess it can be chalked up to limitations of a developing technology because I doubt application designers have failed to see the promise of multiplayer capabilities. However, the brilliant minds at Apple have shown questionable logic with their direction of iPhone utilities in the past. Regardless, multiplayer is coming to the iPhone and it is going to make its use as a gaming device compete on a very high level. The iPhone will succeed on this level for the same reason that social media has become such a hit and why other developers will continue to use human connectivity in their pursuits: human beings want to interact with other human beings.

Chase Straight, Music Community Manager

The Electric Panda Blog

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