‘Words with Friends’ is not technically an esport. Technically, it’s an asynchronous Scrabble knockoff, peddled by an absolute failure of a games company. Most of the time you’re playing against anonymous opponents matched at random; there’s no sense of immediacy in games; there’s no way to spectate others playing; and blatantly cheating using other apps expressly written for that purpose is so obvious and so rampant that you’d be stupid not to. Oh, and you have to buy in-game currency in order to buy your way to a roughly even playing field such that you can have a chance at winning.
So, no, it’s not an esport, technically or otherwise. And I am admittedly jumping on a rather superficial remark made in passing, but it seems like a rather important lack of distinction made by someone who just joined the board at Major League Gaming.
This remark comes on the heels of another this year that would also suggest a severely myopic view of the scene:
As though ‘esports’ is just this amorphous blob of gamers and onlookers that don’t much care what game they’re playing or watching, just as long as there are pixels moving on a screen, that there’s a winner and a loser, and that their supply of energy drinks hasn’t run dry. There certainly aren’t clear subdivisions between the individual games and fanbases around them, as you might see in traditional sports, and so it can be treated as an indivisible whole, right?
I donno, I don’t get anything except ‘my kid is into this stuff and it seems kinda big so I’m going to throw money at it’ from any of Morey’s remarks or interviews on the esports scene.
And let’s be absolutely clear: ‘throwing money at it’ is exactly what joining the board of directors for MLG entails. A seat on a corporate board is not a gig you just apply for and get – you have to buy your seat at this sort of table. You get to call some shots because you’ve put skin in the game. Obviously the details aren’t going to be discussed, and it’d be pointless to ask; I bring it up only to point out the foolishness the scene is exhibiting in making this out to be anything in terms of noteworthy development at all, led by typical unabashedly PR-esque linkbait ‘reporting’ from some usual suspects.
Morey is running the goddamn Houston Rockets, an organization that generates more in profits in three years time than MLG has courted in venture capital and just straight up selling debt since the beginning. Does anybody really think he’s gonna be down in the trenches with DiGiovanni, helping run the day-to-day? Um, no. He’s gonna be super busy just trying to keep Dwight Howard happy, and that’s not going to leave much in the way of surplus fucks to give about keeping the Call of Duty community happy.
I’d be remiss not to end this post with a nod to sports/esports crossover past; the first and last time esports heard from Joe Garagiola, Jr. of Major League Baseball. I would not be surprised if the same held true here.