What’s the next big innovation for competitive multiplayer shooters? According to Call Of Duty design director David Vonderhaar, it’s fully televised e-sports torunaments, placing first-person shooters in the same entertainment context as established sports like football.
Speaking exclusively to games™ in an industry survey about the future of the deathmatch genre, Vonderhaar says “We have to do more to get competitive FPS games to where other fully competitive games have been in terms of their viewership and who participates. What better game than a Call Of Duty game to do that? It’s already got mass appeal. That’s why I’m really excited by the potential of our eSports initiative between league play, casting and our live stream initiatives. Those three things are not just a step into that pool, but a headfirst dive. We’re going to go for it. I really believe in this and it’s a big part of what motivates me every single day.”
In order to draw a wider number of participants toward Call Of Duty as an e-sport, Vonderhaar is determined to get the game broadcasting directly into the homes of the public. “You have to have a production around the sport, and that’s what the casting feature is all about in Black Ops II,” he says. “Take football. If it weren’t on TV it wouldn’t be nearly as successful as it is, right? You need it to be on TV, and you need Call Of Duty to have a mode where you can have it on TV. You’ve also got to understand what it is that other games that are popular do, and that is that you can see both sides of the action. That’s hard to do in an FPS, so we’ve put the map view in and a picture-in-picture view in. So there are ways to do this; it just takes somebody who’s crazy enough to go try it and do it. This game is crazy enough. And why not? I really, really think it’s important to go and build a production around Call Of Duty and make it fun to watch the same way football is fun to watch. If it weren’t as fun to watch it wouldn’t be nearly as successful and popular. We wouldn’t have kids playing football in the streets.”
Can Call Of Duty really attract as much interest as football? And what othert innovations will change the deathmatch genre in the future? The only way to find out is to read the full Future Of Deathmatch feature in games™ 128, featuring exclusive input from Vonderhaar, id Software’s Tim Willits, Crytek UK’s Hasit Zala and Steven Lewis, Epic Games’s Jim Brown and Far Cry 3 designer Daniel Berlin.