The lights are on
As fun as progression and a wide toolkit of perks and equipment are, MLG CEO Sundance DiGiovanni sees those innovations as impediments to the pure competition of pro-level gaming.
Speaking with Penny-Arcade's Ben Kuchera, DiGiovanni fondly remembers the olden days of online first-person shooter competition. "There is something about Quake, one-on-one, that’s special, and we don’t have that anymore," he says.
That purity of experience is a neglected branch of FPS evolution today, though. Even the tightly designed team deathmatches of Team Fortress 2 feature scads of unusual abilities and goofy weapons, and it seems that every Halo and Call of Duty have to one-up last year's already immense variety of powers and equipment. There's a reason Counter-Strike is still a hugely popular game for high-skill players, and it's not because they just can't get enough de_dust.
DiGiovanni sees the ultimate solution as an MLG-developed game, built from the ground up to support pure competition and player skill. "One day we will. One day we will. Yeah," he told Kuchera. "We’ve had people approach us about it. Right now we want to focus on partners with games like PlanetSide 2 and help them broaden out and take advantage of what we’ve built. But we can also take advantage of their understanding of the game mechanics. We’ve done this with folks at Bungie, with folks at Activision, we’ve done it with lots of studios. We’ve done that enough times to have the understanding to take to our own title, eventually."
DiGiovanni stops short of saying that anything is in the works, but with the rise of eSports in general and MLG in particular, the amounts of money involved in making a modern game – especially with the tightly controlled scope that DiGiovanni envisions – are becoming more of a realistic investment for the company every day.