IPs that would make great esports games part 2
January 5 2022
Hello there, friends! Each year, esports is becoming a bigger part of our lives. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of non-gamers were also exposed to online gaming, which caused a huge rise in the number of people playing games online and dabbling in esports.
But is the number of esports games out there enough to accommodate these newcomers? I sat down with my favorite UX Writer, Catt from G-Loot, to discuss this issue and come up with ideas for IPs that would make great esports games. This is a continuation of our talk from part 1 of our discussion.
Catt: (Still talking about Star Stable) It’s sounding like Pokémon the more I think about it. Which is also on my list of things that should become an esports. When you think about it, ultimately, Pokémon is all about tournaments. From the TV show to the games, the most important thing in Pokémon is going and competing against other professionals to become the greatest professional Pokémon trainer. The tournament format already exists, so why not make it into a real tournament.
Barış: Since I was first exposed to Pokémon, I always wanted to have an actual Pokémon fighting game. It eventually got made with Pokkén Tournament, but it was nearly 15 years late for me. It’s Tekken, but with Pokémon. Made by the company that makes the Tekken series, Bandai Namco. It was included in the world's biggest fighting game tournament, EVO. Considering how big and influential the Fighting Game Community is, I feel like Pokémon could make a bigger branch in the FGC and esports in general.
Catt: So the concept is already out there. It just needs to be expanded on.
Barış: Exactly. My first exposure to Pokémon was the TV show. Then I borrowed Pokémon Yellow from a friend, and the first time I played it, I played for seven hours straight. Fortunately, I immediately recognized its effect on me and returned the game to my friend, never to touch a Pokémon game again for years. But for obvious reasons, I’m constantly exposed to Pokémon, and it feels like Game Freak is being a bit lazy about it. It seems to me that they keep making the same game and only updating the roster. Like EA’s FIFA series.
Pokémon fans when the new Pokémon game is exactly the same for the 49th time.
Catt: Which is one of the biggest esports games in the world.
Barış: Weirdly, yes.
Catt: So a game already exists; we just need to investigate how Pokémon games could expand into the esports world.
Barış: Agreed. But it seems to be quite difficult to break into the fighting games scene. I’m guessing this is because fighting games were already very popular before online gaming was a thing. So the fighting games usually revolved around being better than the person sitting next to you. This always made fighting games a personal thing, which might also explain why the Fighting Game Community separates itself from other esports scenes.
Catt: I guess fighting games are more like boxing than playing a football match. It’s one-on-one, which makes it personal, and it comes down to the knowledge and meticulous training about the number of frames in a move and such. This fact separates fighting games from other esports that are mostly team-based. But maybe there’s a solution for that. I was thinking about something like an esports Olympics, where you can watch PUBG one day, Apex Legends the next day, and Tekken the day after that, speedruns and all that. Having a big, worldwide event where you can watch the best of the best compete, just like the Olympics, would get more people interested in these different ways of being competitive and professional. It would also encourage people to watch and participate in esports.
Barış: While that sounds amazing, I think it’s unlikely to happen. Mostly because the publishers want their games to be household names by themselves. At times, they even compete about which game has more views on Twitch. So I don’t think a joint esports event would happen between competing brands, which is a shame because it would probably be incredibly fun and interesting for everyone involved.
Pitch: We figured Pokkén Tournament already exists, but the idea should be expanded upon. Plus, Esports Olympics!
Catt comes up with another idea: Olympics but for esports. It would bring lots of people from different communities together to create a more friendly and competitive environment for everyone. Esports were actually considered for the Olympics in 2024 but were ultimately denied, so we still have time to build an esports Olympic event until they come to their senses and include them in 2028. We have around five or six years to figure this out, which means we can create an esports Olympics event before Half-Life 3 comes out.
Catt: So here’s one of my wackier ideas. I had this idea probably because it’s Christmas time, and I was thinking about Christmas movies. It’s CS:GOme Alone. Counter-Strike meets Home Alone. One team plays as a group of kids, and the other plays as the burglars. You play a number of rounds and switch. Maybe the kids can access things such as marbles to throw and set up, such as walls and pitfalls. Maybe they can have abilities that will help them place traps. The Burglars are much bigger and stronger than the kids, and they can grab the kids and can reach higher places that the kids can’t.
Barış: I’m loving this idea, but you might have just reinvented Garry’s Mod.
Catt: Oh. Right. Well. Maybe that just proves it’s a good idea!
That’s the face of a kid that has already laid deadly traps for you. (Image: Disney)
Barış: Absolutely! It would make a great Christmas game, sure, but an esports game?
Catt: Well, CS:GO is still a prominent esports game, right?
Barış: Yes, there’s even an article on the G-Loot Blog about it. I hear it’s a great read!
Catt: Also, even if we got to make this game, I don’t think basing it on Home Alone would work. How many people are nostalgic for Home Alone?
Barış: Pitching a video game that brings Home Alone and Counter-Strike together… The only thing that would achieve is to reveal our ages.
Catt: Yeah, but that also means people like us would be the target audience. Might not be a huge market, I admit.
IP: Home Alone & Counter-Strike
Genre: Objective-based team brawler
Pitch: A fun Christmas game with a nostalgic theme, mostly banking on the attention of 90s kids
Catt brings another unusual idea. However, as we both agree, making it into an actual esports is a distant dream. It would make a great indie game, though. Home Alone and Counter-Strike have both become integral parts of the 90s kids’ lives. Plus, Catt once again comes up with a game where people don’t kill each other and just have a friendly competition, despite the inconceivable amount of violence one of the IPs involves. The other one is Counter-Strike.
Catt: Your turn.
Barış: So, as you’ll remember, Apex Legends has a new map called Storm Point. It has these wildlife nests that will attack you if you go near them. That reminded me of the Maze Runner series. I only watched the movies, but the concept of having an already dangerous place filled with dangerous spider-like creatures seemed a bit like Maze Runner to me. It could work as a maze-based team brawler with neutral monsters. Both teams enter from the opposite ends of the maze and maybe try to get out or fight each other?
Catt: Alright, sounds interesting.
Barış: Oh wait! There could be the winning prize right in the middle of the maze, like the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter!
Catt: There you go!
Barış: Yes, but that’s all I got. It’s not much of a pitch, I’m sorry, but we made something out of it at least.
IP: The Maze Runner
Genre: Squad-based maze-like brawler(?)
Pitch: Multiple squads enter a maze filled with monsters, to reach the winning prize at the center. Shenanigans ensue.
I’m sorry for this terrible pitch. Thankfully, my last surviving brain cell managed to hit the lightbulb above my head, and I came up with an idea for another indie game with the Harry Potter tie-in. Adding abilities and prizes could turn it into an esports game, but my feelings towards this project are mostly apologetic.
Barış: That was my terrible pitch, your turn.
Catt: Okay, this will show my age again, but, as I said, I was thinking about Christmas movies. Have you seen Last Action Hero?
Barış: I hate the fact that I haven’t. I love Arnold’s funnier movies, and I somehow missed that one. But you’ve mentioned Arnold, so I’m already on board.
Catt: Great. Now we’re going to get really specific to one particular moment in that film. There’s a scene where Arnie goes into the police station. There’s a big desk there where cops go to get their assignments. But since this is the movie world, there’s a mish-mash of tropes where real people are paired with different creatures such as a talking cat. This little moment establishes that there could be these weird buddy cop movies that could be happening in the universe of the movie. This gave me the idea.
What if there was a duo-based game where you can be Arnie—or just a really buff dude with great one-liners—or you could be a cartoon cat or someone who can turn invisible. It could be a PvP and a PvE game where you’re out to get the bad guys, but the other duos out there are also trying to get the bad guys. So you’re also racing against them to complete the objective and maybe prevent them from doing it. I was talking to my partner about my idea, and he said, “you’re talking about Hunt: Showdown,” which I had never heard of. It’s a bounty hunting game where you fight spooky monsters, and there are other bounty hunters after the same monsters as well. I was like, “...that sucks, but also I really want to play that game now.”
Pictured: Arnold Braunschweiger, famous comedian. (Image: Columbia Pictures)
So I have two ideas. Either we make a Last Action Hero video game based on my pitch, or we just make Hunt: Showdown a professional esports game because that game sounds awesome.
Barış: It does sound great. Also, you’ve once again come up with an idea that’s already working.
Catt: We’re beaten to it, but the idea is there.
Barış: Writing this down as “Catt’s awesome 80s-90s buddy cop game idea that turned out to be Hunt: Showdown” and honestly, your list is much more interesting than mine.
Catt: That’s just because I keep reinventing other people’s games.
Barış: Well, yes. But, for some reason, I tried to come up with ideas that would actually work and ended up having a boring list, while your “out there” ideas turned out to be ones that already work. So, nice job!
Catt: The important takeaway here is that everyone needs to go and watch Last Action Hero.
IP: Last Action Hero
Genre: Squad-based battle royale with PvPvE elements with objectives
Pitch: Mainly a duos game where partners pick wacky characters and race against other duos to finish an objective on the map while also trying to prevent other duos from finishing it.
Catt’s awesome 80s-90s buddy cop game idea turned out to be Hunt: Showdown is my favorite pitch of this meeting by far. I’d like to mention that after the meeting, I immediately went and watched Last Action Hero, which turned out to be an underrated gem that was ahead of its time. After watching the movie, Catt’s pitch became very clear to me, and I loved it even more. While Hunt: Showdown does exist, it’s a slow-paced game. We, the people who have tasted the forbidden apple that is the Titanfall series, can’t just settle for slow shooters anymore. So as Catt gives two choices for us, I’m picking the one where we make our own Hunt: Showdown with Arnold and the talking Catt. Heh.
Catt: So what’s next on your list?
Barış: My next idea is more of a general one. It’s basically a “there really should be an actually decent Marvel game” type of idea. Because let’s be honest, they’ve not really been trying so far. Marvel’s Avengers flopped and was critically panned for being very shallow and unpolished despite the fact that it took nearly 4 years to make it. Square Enix channeled lots of resources to the project, presumably at the cost of other franchises such as Deus Ex. As a huge Deus Ex fan, I’m always sad, but Marvel’s Avengers makes me also angry due to spending so much time and resources from Eidos Montréal and potentially causing the Deus Ex sequel to be shelved.
So, in short, I think Marvel holds an incredible potential to have an esports game, be it a team brawler, a battle royale, anything really. It’s low-hanging fruit, but I felt like I should mention it.
Catt: This is a really great idea. There was this really good article about movement shooters someone wrote—can’t remember who—it was on the G-Loot Blog. Anyway. Marvel characters are so varied in so many ways. We’ve got such a wide variety on not only how they would attack but also how they would move. For example, the difference of movement options between a character like Hawkeye and a character like Nightcrawler would be huge. There’s also incredible potential for a huge roster of characters. I mean, it would be a nightmare to balance, but the opportunity is always there.
Barış: I’d like to point out that while I’m not really surprised, I’m very happy that you used my favorite Marvel character as your example: Nightcrawler.
Catt: Right? He’s amazing. Although, I think for me it’s a tie between Nightcrawler and…
Catt: Ooooh! Okay, it’s a three-way tie between Nightcrawler, Gambit, and Wolverine.
Barış & Catt: *go off on a 15-minute tangent about Nightcrawler, Gambit, and Wolverine that has nothing to do with esports or even video games.*
Barış: What you mentioned about how the characters move reminded me of DC Universe Online, an MMORPG. In that game, we play as original characters next to the famous DC heroes and villains. It had multiple movement options for your character, such as acrobatics, super speed, and flying. This alone created fantastic variety between player characters, and the gameplay didn’t feel like you’re just repeating what everyone else does.
Pictured: One of the best comic book video games, ever. (Image: Activision)
Also, you can choose to be on the side of the heroes or the villains, and the villain side has an incredible soundtrack. There are hubs where you can socialize, nightclubs, and amazing music. These all give a sense of liveliness to the game. All of these examples can be used and much more improved upon by a modern Marvel online game. I would love to play as Nightcrawler or a character like him in an online game.
So once again, we’ve stumbled upon an idea that’s already been done, and we know it works. I think it’s time Marvel made a good AAA game, esports or otherwise.
Catt: The thing is, with companies like Marvel, it’s probably a matter of time. I’m guessing they might be trying to stay away from narratives that would potentially interfere with MCU’s story arcs.
Barış: I would have agreed a couple of years ago, but lately, Marvel’s been pushing the multiverse narrative. So they could just chalk that up to the multiverse in case people get confused by the stories.
Catt: That’s true. Also, I’d very much like to see a Marvel game with the comic book art style instead of the hyper-realistic style.
Barış: That game already exists, but it’s a very old one. It’s called Ultimate Spider-Man, and it was released in 2005. It has the comic-book-style character designs, and the cutscenes are shown as comic book pages where characters move from one panel to the next. Sadly, Marvel games didn’t really follow that style afterward, but Ultimate Spider-Man was for sure one of the best Marvel games ever.
IP: Marvel Comics
Genre: Probably a character-based team brawler, but we somehow ended up wishing for an MMO. So the ball’s in your court, Marvel.
Pitch: Marvel Comics always has a great potential for games with large character rosters, so why not make a good one for a change?
Okay, first things first. At the time of this talk, I had completely forgotten about Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, which turned out to be a very decent game. It’s a single-player game, so it doesn’t really apply to what we talked about, but I said Marvel’s hadn’t had a decent game for a long time, so I stand corrected. By myself.
As to what Marvel could do with an MMO, the idea is such a no-brainer that it’s kind of weird that Marvel hasn’t already tried it. Weirdly enough, a week after our talk, rumors of a new Marvel MMO started going around, and it’s apparently being developed by Dimensional Ink Games, the developers of DC Universe Online. So in a way, we were right on the money with this pitch. We wouldn’t mind a generous compensation for coming up with it, but you don’t have to, Disney.
Barış: Okay, the final entry on my list is… Yakuza!
Catt: Yessss! I knew you'd get it in here somehow.
Barış: So in Yakuza, the main plot usually follows multiple Yakuza families fighting over a certain part of the town. I thought maybe these families could fight on a large map for control of certain points in a team deathmatch game. There are multiple very powerful and influential families with Patriarchs that have hundreds of men at their beck and call. These families could function as factions with signature abilities and characters.
In Yakuza, pretty much every family has a famous member other than their own Patriarch. Those guys are usually the best fighters in their family and made themselves known by their exploits in the Yakuza world. Kiryu, the main character of the series, is one of them. So what I thought was, maybe we could fight as goons to these families, and after we earn enough points, we could spawn as these famous fighters from the families… oh. Ooookay I just realized that I reinvented Star Wars Battlefront.
RGG Developers, contemplating why they didn’t already make a Yakuza esports game. (Image: SEGA)
Catt: You could expand it by adding certain places in the city, though. They are fighting for the control of the city, so maybe divide the city into multiple zones that generate a resource each, like nightclubs or money laundering schemes. If you control a certain zone, you generate more money, for example, to improve your stats or weapons. I’m yet to play any Yakuza games, but everything I’ve seen so far about them seemed super fun, so I wouldn’t say no to adding more games to that world.
IP: Yakuza Series
Genre: Pretty much the same as the Battlefront games, but with more depth to the map points
Pitch: The story of Yakuza games already is basically a team deathmatch; it just plays like a single-player action game. Turning it into an actual team deathmatch would be rather easy and would add a lot of entertainment to the franchise.
As you can guess, Yakuza was the most likely entry on my list after the Matrix. I’m a big fan of the series, and I literally did not think of Battlefront until I was describing it to Catt out loud. Climbing the ranks in a Yakuza family by beating up members of other families is literally how the Yakuza world works, so the main gameplay loop is already there. RGG Studio has been doing some interesting stuff with the series lately, so maybe one day they will also attempt to make a team deathmatch game out of it. You’re welcome, RGG!
Before the Conclusion
Before concluding the article, we have an honorable mention. While we didn’t prepare anything about it and didn’t really have a pitch to present to the powers that be, Catt and I would very much like to see a Warhammer esports game made. Catt is partial to Warhammer Fantasy, and I’m 100% on board with both Fantasy and 40K.
And here we are, at the end of our talk. Catt and I started the meeting with actual presentations and quickly realized that we could pitch whatever we wanted to each other. In all honesty, I think Catt came up with better ideas than I did. But ultimately we used the power of teamwork and ended up with some very interesting pitches together. Did you like our ideas? Do you think we deserve the huge paychecks publishing companies are about to offer us any day now? Maybe you have a better idea. Join the conversation on Discord to tell us how you’d make the esports scene a better place.
See you in a more wholesome gaming environment, friends!
Header image by Erik Mclean from Pexels
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