Opinion: Soon Esports Will Pioneer Non Sports-Style Game Modes

by Kevin Knocke

For the most part, esports have been built on the basic fundamentals of sports-style games: Either individual or team based games where sides in a match are mirrored in terms of number of players on the field.

There are 5v5 games like League of Legends, CS:GO, and Dota 2, or 1v1 games like Hearthstone and Starcraft II. But esports have the potential to expand beyond these core sports-style symmetrical team setups.

Take H1Z1: King of the Kill, for example, which is soon to run a massive $300,000 circuit. Teams of 1, 2, or 5 players are dropped into a giant virtual battlefield where they fight it out until one team remains.

This asymmetrical design is a fundamental break from the setup of most sports-style games.

Some publishers have tried to do something similar in the past but haven't found success yet.

Shootmania, for example, was a bold but ultimately underdeveloped first person shooter which featured teams of 3 trading turns in an attack/defend mode where only one player on the attacking team was equipped with a one hit kill gun, but the 3 defenders had to tag the attacker 3 times before they completed the objective or eliminated the defenders.

Every round became a 1v3. This was super cool in concept, but did quite work out in execution for a number of reasons.

The idea of developers finding a balanced, asymmetrical esport is super intriguing as it's much more difficult to accomplish something like this in traditional sports and is a possible unique differentiator between the two.

Although MMO's are unlikely to become a big esport ever again due to the amount of time it takes to grind the gear necessary to be a competitive PvP player, there are interesting formats on the horizon there too.

The Elder Scrolls Online's new upcoming expansion, Morrowind, is featuring a 4v4v4 arena style PvP mode that looks intriguing, but obviously 3 teams competing at once introduces a variety of interesting balance concerns (including, you know, making sure two teams don't just gang up on the third every single game).

Regardless, esports have a better opportunity to experiment with interesting game design formats that are just not feasible in traditional sports, and it's one of the things that makes esports cool and unique.

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