Offensive Combat and Major League Gaming want to make FPS eSports instant and accessible
The world of eSports is both large and growing, but first-person shooters haven’t shown the same popularity as titles like League of Legends or the StarCraft series. A new initative with Major League Gaming and U4iA games is hoping to change this with a title called Offensive Combat.
“Major League Gaming (MLG), the world's largest eSports league, welcomes U4iA Games’ highly irreverent, multiplayer shooter, Offensive Combat, to its high-traffic video game competition site, GameBattles.com,” the press release states. “In a new partnership between U4iA Games and Major League Gaming, more than 8 million registered players can now compete online on MLG’s unmatched eSports platform in the world’s most popular browser-based multiplayer shooter.”
Calling something the world’s most popular browser-based multiplayer shooter is a lot like saying you’re offering the world’s most popular bacon-flavored toothpaste, but this partnership offers some interesting benefits to both MLG and U4iA Games.
Accessibility, speed, and flexibility
“We’re not using Unity’s back end. We wrote an MMO-level game server. So what you get is a really high end, better-playing, non-cheating environment through a web browser,” I was told when I met with the team recently. Cheating may not completely wiped out, but it’s “strongly mitigated.”
It’s positioned as a faster, hardcore multiplayer shooter, with a design that came from a love of classic Unreal and Quake. The game now draws around 1.5 million monthly active users, and matches include 16 players at a time. This is based on only a few months of open beta. This is all interesting stuff, and it points to a healthy player base, but the real value here is the fact that the game plays via a thin client. It’s free-to-play, you don’t need to download large files, and it takes moments to launch.“It can play anywhere, it can play on any site, anywhere. You can click on the link and go straight to the game,” I was told. So Major League Gaming can offer the game directly on the site, and have casual or serious gamers click a link, launch an MLG-branded experience, and begin to compete nearly instantly. I was able to see the game in action in less than a few minutes, and that was with the clogged Internet speeds of a trade show.
U4iA’s custom back end also allows them to quickly create and push content to the game. That means they can react to pop culture in a way most games can’t. The team can create taunt maneuvers based on Gangnam-style dance crazes as soon as they take over YouTube, but the larger importance of that tech is that MLG could design maps, rules, and entire tournament structures for their events and push them directly to players without lengthy downloads, updates, or installations. Players need only click a link on MLG’s own pages, and they're playing in a tournament.
This method of offering competitive first-person shooters removes most of the friction of delivering the game itself to the player. It's seamless. “Working with the developers, we were able to create the deepest integration into GameBattles to date,” MLG CEO Sundance DiGiovanni told the Report. “Our plan moving forward will be to roll out content and online tournament experiences to help keep players engaged and excited.”
Few, if any first-person shooters have broken through to the eSports world, an issue we explored when talking about PlanetSide 2's recent eSports push, but Offensive Combat offers many advantages that may help it thrive in this competitive environment. A game that launches instantly from MLG's own site, can be adjusted and tweaked for competitive play, and works on a wide variety of hardware may be what the competitive FPS scene needs.