After praising Milestone’s efforts in both releasing a competent motocross racer – MXGP 3 – as well as their recent acquisition of the rights to an officially licensed Monster Energy AMA Supercross game in the near future, it appears to be two steps forward and one step back for the other Italian developer team whose products most customers approach with the utmost of caution. MotoGP ’17 released just a few short weeks back, no longer bearing the namesake of Valentino Rossi but bringing with it a robust single player career mode, yet the online element has come under fire from the hardcore motorcycle userbase as of late for a laughably poor implementation of competitive head-to-head multiplayer action.
And as you can probably guess from the title of this article, dubbing this kind of gameplay experience to be “eSports” only rubs salt on an open wound. Devoid of any authentic MotoGP action, the eSports realm of MotoGP ’17 is more or less a pristine example of what happens when developers are completely apathetic towards what actually constitutes as some sort of competitive eSports environment; instead using it as a lazy buzzword to mask on-track action that is no more structured than motorcycle racing in Grand Theft Auto V.
Uploaded by two wheel enthusiast One Racer, the eight minute footage below displays everything wrong with MotoGP ’17’s eSports realm. There are quite simply no rules or penalties in effect, with the on-track product resembling a metaphorical wild west; riders cut the chicanes at Le Mans as they see fit, pile-drive each other into corners, and generally have zero intentions of putting on any sort of clean. respectful race – save for the creator of the video. Had this been a private lobby with a bunch of kids screwing around, there’s really nothing to write home about – it’s kids being kids – but this is instead what Milestone are actively advertising as some sort of hardcore eSports functionality. As a developer of strictly racing games dating back to the mid 1990’s, I’m not sure how Milestone had the balls to release an eSports feature set without any enforced rules or general mandated ettiquette whatsoever. How do you host a competition and offer an array of prizes knowing full well people can just ignore entire sections of the circuit they’re competing on?
It’s all kind of retarded, but you’ll have to see it for yourself in the video.
However, I don’t want to place the blame solely on Milestone for this abomination; I instead want to explore how this blatant example of a developer half-assing the eSports element can be used as a warningfor what’s to come. Obviously with the whole eSports craze still going strong, it’s only natural for developers to try and cash in on the festivities by any means necessary. A full year from now, I’m almost expecting every racing title on the market to feature some sort of tacked-on eSports spin-off mode, with each of them just as pointless as what Milestone have created in MotoGP ’17. And can you blame them? Well no, it’s a pretty simple way to attain sales; move the Ranked Play option to a different sub-menu and call it eSports. Done. Zero effort. Now you have guys who otherwise wouldn’t care about MotoGP buying the title out of curiosity because there’s some prize at the end, and it’ll somehow justify all the time they’ve spent in-game.
The problem which arises, is that continuing to half-ass this stuff is actually going to backfire long-term. The more developers that shamelessly try to tack on eSports implementation when they clearly don’t have the interest in making it a proper competitive format, the faster that particular portion of their audience interested in eSports stuff will turn away from these games altogether, and therefore losing customers – leading to this era of sim racing being dubbed “that awkward eSports period.” Nobody wants an entire selection of games bundled with a feature set little make use of, solely because it’s a waste of time. If you want a good example of this occurring with a previous feature implementation inside the world of sim racing, just look at what happened with Need for Speed’s Autolog feature from a few years back. The dynamic leaderboards were a focal part of the franchise for several iterations on the Xbox 360, but did anyone actually make use of them to the fullest extent, or did they have enough friends who also owned Need for Speed to the point wher leaderboard battles were remotely compelling? No, not by a long shot.
Now the Autolog system has been reduced to an awkward intrusion for those who fire up past Need for Speed titles.The lack of any depth to an eSports element – in some cases – can also act as a shit test for certain developers. If a team such as Milestone push out such a horrid ranked racing environment, it gives customers a reason to believe that other aspects of the game – or entirely separate products of theirs – also suffer from the same lack of vision, cohesion, structure, and compelling aspects, further reducing sales from multiple titles, because the customers were so put-off by the developer’s inability to capitalize on a wave of popularity when it mattered the most. Buzzwords and colorful language aside, it plain and simple indicates the developer team don’t care about being truly innovative with their product, and are mindlessly throwing random shit onto the game disc to see if it works or not.
And if that’s a team’s plan of action, they unfortunately reap what they sow. If their plan is to merely half-ass things and hope people are okay with it, they have no right to complain about “toxic” sim racers slamming the product in reviews and on forums, as that’s the kind of reception you’re going to receive if it’s blatantly obvious you’re just nicking stuff that’s popular in other genres to throw in your game, whether they actually contribute to the experience or not.
Either do it right, or save us the frustration and don’t do it at all.