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Makings of a monopoly

in glhf

Pop quiz: who owns Major League Baseball? Who owns the National Football league? Who owns professional basketball?

Stumped? Here s an easier one: who owns (or at least claims to own) professional gaming? This should bring forth a decent list of people all of whom have tried (and failed, to a point) to claim ownership over competitive gaming, and all of whom have done so under the premise of trying to bring gaming to the mainstream or furthering the gaming community – Angel Munoz, Scott Ringel, Michael Sepso, among others are prominent on that list. We can add one more name to the list, and it s a scary one: News Corporation.

As much as they will try to bury the connection in an attempt to make the Championship Gaming Series seem legitimate to those that don t know better, the CGS is nothing more than a hugely elaborate, well funded, and overly hyped production for a television series – media fodder, and nothing more. In the process those at News Corporation plan to make every red cent they possibly can from gaming for as long as they possibly can, leaving the gaming scene, quite honestly, screwed over either way things progress for the CGS.

The connection is clear despite their attempts to clean up the CGS image by removing all direct references towards DirecTV and registering an LLC specifically for it in order to mask ownership completely. Trace the ownership of five of the seven partners for the CGS – DirecTV, Sky, Star, IGN, and GameSpy are all owned by News Corporation. CGS leveraging the assets of News Corp to deliver gaming to the mainstream? Negative, rather News Corp leveraging its own weight to build a monopoly on that which is better left open.

The singular element that contributes most towards professional sports leagues stablility, economic feasibility, and overall integrity within the general public is lack of ownership. Curious as to why it was so hard to dig up answers as to who owns professional baseball or football? It was a trick question, the league has no ownership body, and in most cases is an unincorporated entity, and merely is a representation of all teams inside the league doing business collectively. The professional sports league entity itself is no more than a cellophane wrapper around the real business units in sports: the team.

This fact has been ignored by each and every individual who has attempted to build professional gaming in the United States for the simple reason that lack of ownership means lack of potential to profit directly and without limit from the entirety of the league as a whole, which leaves little room or need for people such as Munoz or Ringel. In simpler terms: you can t profit off of that which you don t own. And since these competitive gaming figureheads have no viable place inside a true professional gaming league, since their goal is to further their own bank account at the expense of furthering gaming, nothing of the sort has existed. The CGS is not the answer, quite the contrary – it exhibits this issue to a much larger degree and is blatantly overt in it s intentions: to own professional gaming.

Andy Reif, Commissioner for CGS below.

eSports is truly the convergence of sports and entertainment and new media and traditional media. By combining high level competition with the rich content and action of video games, we are creating the next great sports property.

(Full story)

The word property is a key: it clearly states their intentions here (it was used six different times in the three page article linked above) and it means only more of the same for gamers and gaming: we provide the basis and get none of the reward. The gaming community has been flat out fleeced for a decade now by people pretending to further it, and much the same will continue now with the CGS. News Corp is not interested in building a legitimate gaming league half as much as they re interested in building a television production. Teams that sign with the CGS are not becoming the first truly professional gaming teams, they re signing on to become actors and actresess in loosely scripted TV series. And with supposed deals aimed towards locking down entire games from being aired anywhere outside News Corp networks (which I would just as soon chalk up to typical Gotfrag sensationalism – and speaking of Gotfrag, I wouldn t be suprised if there was an acquisition announcement made rather soon) the intention is clear to dominate gaming media to the point that if a truly legitimate professional gaming league was to be established – one geared towards the advancement of gaming itself for the maximum benefit first of the players and teams above all other concerns – that it would be stifled by a lack of media attention due to outstanding agreements made towards News Corp s CGS.

Yet it s the competitive gamer that is the most supportive of this endeavor despite the clear intent to abuse them. The figure at which these initial teams are signing in terms of compensation will set the precedent to be used for all future signings; if you think that player salaries in the CGS will increase over time if it takes off, you re bloody mad – if the current batch of players won t play without a raise they ll simply find another batch of idiots to play video games on a television show. If Mr. Wendel can be hyped as the John Madden of gaming they can turn any pub scrub into the next gaming phenom. The signings of compLexity and Team 3D to the CGS are historic only in how much damage they have done to the quality of life for aspiring pro gamers for years to come.

It is the mainstream who will have the most trouble swallowing this, because as much efforts are being put forth to merely mimick the structure and workings of professional sports, it s far from the real McCoy, and it s those that don t have a vested interest in gaming to begin with that won t be able to stomach it. News Corp s professional Counter-strike league is not nearly as attractive culturally as the national game of baseball, and the link between a sports team and a metropolitan populace which is being ignored, since it s far more economical to have all teams play in an air conditioned studio in California instead of in the cities these teams are supposedly going to be representing, is going to be the achilles heel of the CGS.

Why my uproar? I ll admit, in a softer light the CGS could be viewed as a small step forward for gaming. However when viewed from all sides there is no disguising the five steps backwards this is putting gaming and gamers in return.