Saturday, April 28, 2012

Spectator mode and community casters

When I read about spectator mode I said it is great if you want to watch your friends mess around in solo queue or see whichever pro wants to make their games watchable at that very moment. But it sort of hits a wall. 

My second thought was will this addition hurt streamer numbers if a player wants to stream at the same time, as spectator mode provides a much higher quality of information? But most likely not. Viewers want the connection to the player, nothing quite brings the fanboys to the yard like Dyrus sleeping on cam, something Riot cannot match. They're safe, no need to worry. 

I do however have a few open questions that the preview left me wondering. 

1. Will you be able to turn the ability to be spectated by your friends off? Pretty straight forward, not everyone wants everyone on their friends list to be able to watch them. Minor issue, don't really care. 

2. Is this a prelude to replays? Everyone wants them, I'm sure Riot do too. I'm hoping this isn't throwing us a bone so we'll get off their backs and more preparation for replays.

3. Will this open up more opportunities for community casters? I think this is the most important point. Riot does so much in terms of advertising for their e-sport and making it accessible to the masses but their delay from day one to have replay is hurting their growth. Another resource rather than LoLReplay. 

The second and third points both could improve the possibility of community casters greatly. E-sports needs to be shown off to the world, and what is the biggest online media platform? YouTube. There are many casters within other e-sports communities that survive off of YouTube and replay casting alone, it is a whole source of income for many employees of e-sports, and yet Riot leaves League of Legends behind by making it as difficult as possible to capture game play. Hell, even casters like IPL's Kevin Knocke dabbled in YouTube casting and got a job in California as a result. YouTube casting is essentially a money making talent agency, showing the big tournaments the possibilities for good casters out there - because holy hell we need more options. 

I have a feeling at about this point, you sighed and figured I am criticizing a good thing. Well, I am and I am not. I think this is a huge leap forward for Riot, but it isn't enough yet.  I could be very committed and follow top players and fraps and livecast their games and upload them to YouTube and become a community caster with that method but it is flawed because it makes gameplay footage too hard to obtain, especially as community casting will 9 times out of 10 start out as a hobby. 

With lots of other games I can download a replay pack of a player, a team, even an entire tournament and cast games at my leisure and in my own time. People like Studio will be able to be more in depth with their educational videos when they aren't restricted to buggy LoLReplay and fraps recordings of games. Those formats simply don't work. You are restricted to player view or camera view live. 

Let me highlight a possibility: HuskyStarcraft. Not my favorite SC2 caster, but a successful one nonetheless. His latest video as of this post is a 14 minute game with nearly 60,000 views after a single day. He exposed his e-sport of choice to 60,000 people with a simple replay and 14 minutes of casting. That video alone will probably double in views in a weeks time as well. A LoL community caster would have to work much harder to create the same content, but the viewership is there. 

YouTube casters like HuskyStarcraft and HDStarcraft are what I would call 'gateway' casters. Think marijuana propaganda but with e-sports. They are a non-commitment viewing experience. It isn't like sitting down to watch a tournament for an audience that is already a part of the community, you are eased in on your own time, with easy accessibility. If you are going to have an interest in e-sports, including LoL, then you will be hooked in when exposed to a beginner-friendly cast. That is what League of Legends needs. It needs to be able to be made available and interesting to view without already having played, because right now we rely too much on Riot's advertisement for the game itself, and not enough for the e-sport factor. 

I think I'll make it a habit to recap my posts, just so my main idea is made clear as I can go off on tangents at times. Overall, LoL needs a larger pool of potential casters. There are thousands of high level players out there with the knowledge and ability to expand the overall content of League, provided they are given the resources to do so. Riot aren't stupid, they want it - they just need to get on it ASAP to ride their current momentum. 

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