IPs that would make great esports games part 1
December 27 2021
Hello everyone! It’s been a huge year for esports. Despite Covid-19 still being around, esports managed to thrive and it brought lots of people together—in a safe way—as it always did. Looking back, as esports becomes bigger every day, we realized there’s still huge untapped potential and a great unexplored market out there for esports.
My fellow writer Catt and I sat down to discuss what other intellectual properties (IPs) would make great esports games. We mostly ended up reinventing some great ideas that already exist, but that only means our ideas would also work!
A great deal of serious, academic research went into preparing for this article. (Image: Funny Or Die.)
Barış: Catt, you know I’m going to talk too much when it’s my turn. Would you like to go first?
Catt: Sure. So from my perspective, I think we should start with the elephant in the room. The most obvious choice is Battle Royale. I love the movie, I love the manga, I love the book. I wish someone would get the rights to do a proper battle royale game based on Battle Royale.
Barış: That would definitely work, but don’t you think it would struggle to find a place among the huge number of battle royale games? Not to mention some of those games being industry giants themselves.
Catt: That’s true, but Battle Royale has this unique setting where all of the participants are high schoolers. I guess that’s also a part of the reason why it wouldn’t get made. Because it’s about teenagers killing each other. Then again it’s the classic, it’s where it all came from. Also in the story, each character starts with a bag with basic supplies and one weapon that they don’t get to choose. It ranges from a pan lid to a machine gun.
Battle Royale wasn’t the first to use the term, but it’s the reason why the genre is called battle royale today. (Image: Toei Company)
Barış: That doesn’t sound fair.
Catt: It’s not fair, but it is interesting. It forces you to play in a different way depending on what weapon you get. You can’t rely on having what you want, instead, you need to adapt to what you’ve been given. It encourages you to be good at everything.
Barış: Sounds like it also encourages you to eliminate opponents with better gear to take theirs.
Catt: Exactly, yeah. It forces you to have a strategy.
Barış: So what’s the setting of Battle Royale? Why are they fighting?
Catt: It’s a TV show. Each season, a class of kids gets kidnapped and taken to an island. From the perspective of the characters, they’re on a school trip and when they’re on the bus, they get knocked out with sleeping gas. Then they wake up on an island and fight to the death.
Barış: That sounds a bit too much like Squid Game to me, have you seen it?
Catt: Yes, it’s on my list of IPs that would make a good esports game.
Barış: It’s on my list, too. Whoops. So, do the kids know about the TV show beforehand?
Catt: It’s kept intentionally vague. I think. I'll admit it's been a while since I watched it. We’re shown characters aware of the existence of the show, previous winners, and such. But when the kids are on the island, they seem oblivious to what’s happening.
IP: Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
Genre: Battle Royale
Pitch: It’s literally the reason for the name of the genre
I’m ashamed to admit that despite being into the genre, I haven’t seen Battle Royale. Catt’s obviously a fan of it, so I stay quiet (as much as I can) and let them explain what it’s about to hide this fact. It’s definitely on my watchlist now. I want to experience the movie (or the book/manga if you prefer) that pioneered the battle royale genre back in the 90s.
Barış: Speaking of Squid Game, I thought the players not being oblivious to the fact that they’re in a game of death made it much more exciting to watch. They knew about the stakes and participated anyway, which added to the constant state of pressure.
Catt: One of the things I find very interesting about Squid Game is that it’s both PvP and PvE. In some cases, they are just trying to complete a lethal challenge, while in others they’re trying to eliminate others to survive.
Barış: Definitely. I was surprised to see that the whole “battle royale” thing wasn’t the main premise. It took some time for the players to figure out they can just kill each other, despite it being a game about being the last one alive. After that, PvE games also had a PvP element to them.
Catt: Yeah, it’s implied to be about human nature. Eliminating competition by any means necessary when it’s a life or death situation. I guess the real problem with making a Squid Game video game would be that PvE part. How would you do that?
Squid Game brought incredibly high production quality and a nice little twist to the battle royale genre. (Image: Netflix)
Barış: You could do that with mini-games maybe? Actually, there’s a game on Steam called Crab Game. You can guess what it’s about from the name. It has PvE mini-games like one where you’re trying to avoid huge chunks of rock falling from the sky. There’s also a PvP element to it because you can push other players under the falling rock.
Catt: That sounds cool! So the bottom line is we need to make Crab Game into a huge esports game.
Barış: Yeah, I think we just reinvented Crab Game. It’s already quite popular, too.
Catt: I can see why. Squid Game was so good and people want to see more of it. Anything that would scratch that itch would become popular.
IP: Squid Game
Genre: Battle Royale with PvE elements
Pitch: Someone already did it, so let’s support their game.
Squid Game took an existing concept and added a unique depth to it. While it was not the best show ever, in my opinion, it definitely had an impact on bringing the battle royale genre to the mainstream. Recency bias might also be in play here, we both had watched the series very recently at the time of this talk.
Catt: So that’s two off of my list. What’s on yours?
Barış: My first candidate for esports is The Matrix. Considering a new Matrix movie is coming up, you can expect to hear a lot about the Matrix from me in the future. I picked the Matrix because firstly I’m a huge fan, and secondly it has an incredible potential to have a great esports game. Maybe you’ve heard of it, after the Matrix Revolutions was released, there was an MMORPG called The Matrix Online. It was a direct sequel to the events of the movie and was directed by the Wachowskis themselves. As a side note, the Wachowskis were too ahead of their time for their own good, as they have repeatedly proven.
The Matrix Online came out before global MMOs were a thing, so it being a relatively small MMO and a story-driven game caused a lot of people like myself to miss out. Mostly because the game had a story to tell and when that story ended, they shut down the game. While I appreciate the fact that they didn’t try to force the story to go on only to monetize it, it also caused a huge rift between the canonical Matrix knowledge of the people who played the game and those who didn’t get that chance. So, since the events in The Matrix Online are considered canon to the Matrix lore, what happened in that game is what I’m basing my esports idea on.
Catt: *baffled silence at my machine gun-like speech about The Matrix*
Barış: In the Matrix Online, there were factions. Groups of people gathered around an ideology or a cause. I’ll briefly summarize them for you. There was the Cypherite group, who thought Cypher from the first movie was right and the reality of the real world is just another nightmare. They are against the idea of Zion and awakening people from the Matrix. There was the Machinist group who believed working with the Machines would be the true way of achieving peace. There was the Zionist group, the ones we know from the movies. Morpheus and Niobe were notable Zionists for example.
The Matrix Trilogy is filled with iconic moments that can translate into cool video game mechanics. (Image: Warner Bros.)
So these factions and their clashing ideals could make a great battle royale game. At this point, the game writes itself, really. Factions are there, a reason to fight is there and everyone needs to connect to the Matrix to fight each other anyway so the battleground is there. If the Matrix Online came out a decade later than it had, I believe it would be a huge game. But it would also be too late for a direct sequel to a movie released in 2003. So I expect the current state of the Matrix lore to give birth to a new game after the Matrix Resurrections releases. Not every esport has to be a battle royale, it could be a team deathmatch game. I don’t care, just give me a good Matrix game!
Catt: The Matrix would also work because it’s a great way to give the players special abilities that are diegetic, that make sense within their own universe. We both know that having characters that can do their own thing and having their backstories set in that universe makes these games so much more interesting. For example, maybe if you’re playing as an Agent, you can body hack other people and move across the map really fast.
Barış: That reminds me of Bloodhunt, the recent battle royale game set in the World of Darkness. It’s a Vampire the Masquerade game and it has NPCs in it. The players are the Vampires who fight each other, but they can also drain the blood of human NPCs to gain additional powers and such. A similar mechanic could be used in a Matrix game where you can hack NPCs to gain powers or you can just body hack them as Agents like you said.
Catt: One of the mechanics I always found very fun was in Assassin’s Creed where you blend in with the NPCs to hide. That could be a fun tactic for an Agent. You could hack into one of the NPCs and then you try to act like one to hide yourself and move stealthily until you reach your target.
Barış: Counterpoint! That’s actually a great way for the redpills to hide from the Agents. The Agents aren’t really famous for their subtlety. They see a wall, they punch through it. Meanwhile, the redpills are forced to hide from the Agents, so while blending in with the NPCs is a great mechanic to use in a Matrix game, it would be more fitting for the redpills to use it.
“Find them and destroy them!” -Agent Smith (Image: Warner Bros.)
Catt: You’re right. It’s more of a human thing to use tactics like that. Plus, Agents can also duplicate themselves which is another cool thing to do. Suddenly you can make two more of yourself, even if they’re dummies.
Okay, you’ve sold me on that one. I think I would play that game. Also, as well as our great idea we just developed, it would be very cool if they brought back another MMO. The idea sounds very good if they did it when the technology and the world is ready.
Barış: Absolutely! I didn’t want to dwell on the MMO part too much because we’re trying to come up with ideas for esports, but a new Matrix MMO done right would be *chef’s kiss*
IP: The Matrix
Genre: Battle Royale or Team Deathmatch
Pitch: Clashing factions in a world where the reality can be bent or broken
As Catt mentions, the setting of the Matrix universe creates endless possibilities of special abilities to make a game with lots of characterization and customization options. The fact that it houses both gunplay and martial arts helps develop a unique path for each player. While I was writing this article, I also thought about the real-world aspect of the movies, which would create an even greater sense of suspense. Plus, the Wachowskis are insanely talented and would surely create an amazing storyline for the game. So that’s another plus.
Catt: You said not every esport has to be a battle royale, so I have one that’s not. Do you know Star Stable?
Catt: Okay, so it’s a game aimed at teenage and pre-teen girls. That’s their key market. It’s basically a horse-based adventure game where you build your character, you get a horse and you have to take care of it. It’s basically My Little Pony, except you play as a human, not as a pony. You go on horse adventures and save the world and stuff.
Barış: That escalated quickly.
Catt: There seems to be magic involved where they cast spells and do all kinds of presumably “friendship is magic” style of things. So considering how there’s a lot of conversations about how esports are toxic and male-oriented, how it’s very difficult for non-male people to get into it and I thought “what would make the world a better place? Young, female-oriented esports.“ What about a racing game, like iRacing or Formula One games, but with horses. You could make it more like Mario Kart with more fantasy and wacky elements, or you can go super serious and make it a serious, ultra-realistic horse racing game. But for teenage girls. I think it’s an untapped market.
Lots of beautiful horses to look after and go on adventures with. You can also praise the Sun apparently. (Image: Star Stable Entertainment)
Barış: That’s a great pitch! But while listening to you, I found myself thinking about how it could be ruined by the toxic people in online games.
Catt: I think there will always be a little bit of that. But I feel like the more ways to make it nice, the better. You know how in some games there’s a winner but then there’s also an MVP. You can have good sportspersonship awards, nicest player, or prettiest horse awards.
Barış: Sorry for the negative approach but I feel like making an online game wholesome is very difficult, I can’t help but think “how would humanity ruin this for everyone?” while listening to your pitch.
Catt: I think we need to change the world. I’m sure people would eventually find a way to ruin it but when I look out there, I want to believe there’s hope if we could manage to elevate esports with young women—or young people, there’s no reason to make it gender-exclusive—in a wholesome environment.
Barış: So when the horses are racing, are there riders on them?
Catt: Yes. You would play as a rider as opposed to playing as a horse. You’d also have to take care of your horse. There could be entire sections of gameplay separate from the competitive side of it where you groom your horse, feed it well, make sure it’s comfortable and such. It’s sounding like Pokémon the more I think about it.
IP: Star Stable
Genre: Friendly Competition, Simulation
Pitch: There need to be more esports games that endorse friendly competition over toxic rivalry.
This is the first of Catt’s highly unique pitches. While I was absolutely oblivious to Star Stable at the time of our talk, I loved the idea of making an esports game where people are not trying to establish dominance over each other. Even when watching the highlights of an esports tournament, a lot of the things you see are people celebrating in an angry demeanor. Winning has become synonymous with destroying your opponents. Because this is the case for most esports games, I believe Catt’s idea to endorse a friendly environment for esports is a very important one.
If you’ve been reading the G-Loot Blog, you’re probably aware that I’m not someone who summarizes their point. Especially when I’m talking about things I love. As you can guess, our talk with Catt lasted much longer than what you see here and included many great ideas. So this is not a conclusion but an intermission to our pitch meeting. We will continue to discuss esports in Part 2 of this article. In the meantime make sure to keep an eye on the G-Loot Blog to learn more about your favorite esports, improve your performance.
What did you think of our pitches? Would you want to contribute to the esports game by being a good teammate and an overall nice person? Join the talk on improving the esports scene on our Discord and tell us your take on what would make a great esports game.
See you in a more wholesome gaming environment, friends!
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