by Hunter Thompson
11/30/2011 5:05PM ET
Major League Gaming. The driving force of the eSports community that travels to cities around the nation, holding some of the largest LAN competitions you can find. Some may call it the epitome of competitive Call of Duty. It truly is what holds this tight-knit community together. With competitive Call of Duty rapidly gaining more attention with each installation of the franchise, it would be devastating for me to have to tell you it's about to face a major challenge - but unfortunately, it is. The latest game title, Modern Warfare 3, may not be compatible with wide-scale LAN events.
In order for Call of Duty to prosper at Major League Gaming events, a certain element of LAN capability is required. It is essential for the game to be played without Xbox Live, and certainly without having to level up each console's profile to unlock class options. Unfortunately, that is the case - and it doesn't stop there. In addition, Modern Warfare 3 lacks something called a "LAN lobby." Call of Duty: Black Ops corrected this issue within days of its release by adding a countdown timer. These are essential to gather teams into the same game prior to the start of the match.
Thousands of die-hard competitive Call of Duty fans took to Twitter to voice their opinion, in an effort to get the attention of game developer Infinity Ward - or more specifically, Infinity Ward's Community Manager: Robert Bowling. We asked MLG pro Call of Duty player Rambo how he felt about Infinity Ward's approach (or lack-thereof) regarding Modern Warfare 3's competitive support. He said, "Well everyone knows that the competitive side of call of duty isn’t anywhere near the priority of the developers of the game. So we can’t expect much from them in the first place, but the fact they could have implemented the LAN system link from black ops (Which they did for Private matches online with everything being unlocked) and the timer option and didn’t, is quite frustrating." On whether or not he feels Robert Bowling has done an adequate job in relaying the community's pleas to developers, Rambo says, "He doesn't even have the decency to reply to everyone tweeting at him about it." He concludes, "In the end, every title that has grown over the year on a competitive level has been backed up by the producers of the titles. Sadly, we don’t have that with IW, but we do with Treyarch. So hopefully their next title is good."
Not all members of the competitive Call of Duty community are worried about the outlook on future MLG support for Call of Duty. We spoke with MLG pro team coach Bezo, who seemed rather optimistic about the ordeal. He says, "MLG always seems to make it work no matter what the problems are. I believe Sundance and the rest of MLG do a great job at working around ordeals. I am confident MW3 will be on the circuit this year whether or not the spawns, LAN, etc. are fixed." So what will happen for MLG's Call of Duty if these issues are not addressed? Before Treyarch finally put an end to the LAN incompatibility last year with Black Ops, the Call of Duty series was a once-a-year showing at MLG events. It was not ideal, as it would be played online. Because of this, it wasn't a recurring event over the entire season like Halo and StarCraft is.
Yeah, just like Last Stand was removed too, right?
Now with Call of Duty having a full season under its belt, would MLG still feel compelled to return Call of Duty to an Online Pro Circuit ordeal? We asked Bezo - and he thinks, "they would be willing to spend the money. For Nationals in 2010 they did the same thing which only consisted of I believe 8 teams because it was invite only. I feel like there was a low attendance due to the fact that it was on PS3, which not all gamers have. Most CoD gamers' console of choice is the 360. I feel like if Black Ops was on the 360 it would have generated a lot more teams for the events. I also believe that Black Ops was not necessarily a fan favorite game with everyone which also could have contributed to the attendance. ['Modern Warfare'] games usually seem to have a higher interest rate whether it's competitive or casual.”
It should be noted that NJHalo, an organization based in New Jersey that hosts many Call of Duty tournaments, has found a bit of a workaround in utilizing the limited functionality of Modern Warfare 3's LAN. It seems there may be an option to bypass the level restrictions on weapons and items, but only by enabling a set of (a maximum of five) predetermined classes. This would ultimately restrict any and all variety players had hopes for, as every player would be confined to the same five class loadouts. If it wasn't already enough of an inconvenience, due to the lack of a lobby or countdown timer, the initial start of a map was not ideal. Players would have to wait for the game to become available, and join the game while in progress, relying on a referee to instruct them on when to start. While it's not as big of an issue in a regional live event, this kind of disorganization will not be feasible for an event as wide-scale as MLG, featuring nearly one hundred teams per event.
Earlier today, this was tweeted. While it doesn't promise anything, it proves Robert Bowling has heard
your pleas, and reminds us all that he is not solely responsible for the changes made to the game.
If Infinity Ward does not cooperate, it seems Major League Gaming will be faced with a few difficult options:
Spend more time and money on making the game feasible for their events, while having to utilize Xbox Live
Keep Call of Duty: Black Ops for an additional season, similar to what they did with Call of Duty 4
Move on from the Call of Duty series as an event title - they would always offer Online Pro Circuit events due to the game's popularity, but would instead select from wide variety of new titles to take Call of Duty's place
In the event Major League Gaming no longer supports Call of Duty, how will the community respond? Should that truly be the end of it all? We've seen GameStop and NewEgg offer occasional competitions for a significant amount of money. We here at 360icons will continue to provide weekly online and free-entry tournaments featuring 256 teams or more, and even GameBattles will be offering paid tournaments for some prize money. But think about what Activision did. Before Modern Warfare 3 was released, they hosted one tournament, with a prize pool nearly equaling the amount of money Major League Gaming gave out over the course of a year, in all of their game titles combined. In addition, Call of Duty has a plethora of regional live events from all over the nation - including NJHalo, PrimeTimeGamers and LANtastic Gaming.
It will be a tough time if MLG decides to move on. But that certainly does not mean it's time for the Call of Duty community to move on. There's money to be won, and success stories to be built. There are other organizations just waiting to take a seat in MLG's throne. Somebody else will step up, and we will move on. The people surrounding this game have put too much at stake - and there's too much potential to be overlooked.
Comment on this article »