Friday, February 21, 2014

FGC: The REAL American Hustle

This blog post might come off vague, but while reading, I want you to REALLY think about what it is I'm trying to say and try to piece together the puzzle... Enjoy.

Like my last blog post, I talked about how I don't like to travel too often to "Majors" anymore and I gave some insight as to why. I want to dig just a little deeper on the subject. I'm just going to come out and say it... I think most of the big name Tournament Organizers are crooks and use Fighting Game Tournaments as an outlet to gain finance from their smaller "Majors" and then their big yearly event.

Yea, they'll tell you how much money they DON'T make from their events and play The "I do it for the Community aka My Second Family" Card, but I'm someone who isn't easily persuaded and like to ask questions. You mean to tell me that some T.O who hosts multiple "Majors" a year, for many years, isn't making a profit? Though I do have information on this subject, I don't want to throw anyone or any sponsors under the bus. Instead, I want to get y'all thinking by just using logic and common sense, a task that will already be hard enough because the FGC is pretty adamant about most things...

The FGC is brainwashed: Convinced that certain clothing companies are hot, made to believe that wearing two headphones is the way to go, (Not even talking about the person who started that trend) some of the rinky-dink FGC catch phrases, etc. The players out there already donate ridiculous amounts of money to "Professional" Fighting Game Players so those players can travel even more than they already do, and they have no problem with doing that... So what makes you think that T.Os aren't on the same hustle? Normally I don't like to knock another person's hustle, but *knock* *knock*.

Let's look at one of the few things that has actually changed in Grassroots Tournaments.... THE VENUE FEE! I've been competing in games since 2006. (Before 2009) Venue Fees used to run around $20 for each tournament, sometimes less. Now Venue Fees go from $35-$90. (Early, Late, and On-Site Registration) Now keep in mind, these are the same old dusty, cramped, smelly, hotel ballrooms we always go to for all these years. Not much has changed other than the price of admission. Are you starting to see where I'm going with this? Well let me continue.

Most "Majors" are held in hotel ballrooms. It costs money to rent these ballrooms out. The players also like to stay at the same hotel that the tournament is being held at, makes for a convenient Player Village, so the tournament usually offers discount rates for these rooms. Now this is where some logic comes in... If you are hosting a tournament at a hotel and you are guaranteed to pack all their rooms with players from across the country, making the hotel itself A LOT of money, would it make sense for the hotel to charge the T.O full price to rent out the ballroom? Especially when you build that relationship with the hotel, it could wind up costing less over time.

Now let's look at "The Sponsors" for the tournaments. I personally know that sponsors put in quite a hefty sum of money into each tournament they are sponsoring. Game companies sometimes put up money for their own game for pot bonuses and then some more money in general for the event. So even if I'm completely wrong about a discounted ballroom rental; between this New Generation Venue Fee that the mass amount of players pay and all the money that all the sponsors dump into the event, does every single one of those dollars actually go into renting out the venue? Where does the rest of the money go to?

Let me make this perfectly clear. I'm not mad that the big time T.Os make money from their events, a business is a business. What I am mad about is the trash product that we wind up getting and the low prize payouts. Tournaments are late, poorly ran, falsely advertised, etc. I'm starting to see why a lot of these T.Os want to keep things exactly the same. If they tried to make it into a legit eSports spectacle, then they know they would be losing money at first and not thinking about the long run. When MLG first started, they were losing money. It wasn't until around 2009 when they started making a profit. So why should these T.O's fix something that is not broken? Hell, most of y'all see no problems with these Grassroots Tournaments or don't ask enough of the right questions. That's because they can easily say, "I don't make anything at these events" and y'all just take their word for it.

I can go to one of my LOCAL tournaments, they charge a flat rate of $25 to enter the venue AND ENTER EVERY GAME YOU WANT TO WITHOUT HAVING TO PAY THE EXTRA $10 FOR EACH GAME, and play in all of the games and some of the games come with a guaranteed prize payout where first place can range from $75-$600.... Whenever I win or place, the money is in my account 2-3 days later, never had a problem. You want to know the funny thing? This particular T.O is blacklisted in the FGC... Coincidence?

Follow me on Twitter: @CrackMamba

Thursday, January 23, 2014

FGC Manifesto

The following opinions are of my views and mine alone. Reader Discretion is Advised.

I'm going to go a different route with this blog entry today. I want to talk about "Professional" Fighting Game Tournaments. What makes having nice things and opportunities in the Fighting Game Community such a bad thing? It is considered complete taboo if you want to make money competing in fighting games. Why does the FGC shun away legit eSports events, yet accepts uncouth Grassroots Tournaments? Marketing to the FGC is very unorthodox. I want to dig a little deeper about the FGC and try to understand their thought process.

My name is BlackMambaMoan. Very successful fighting game player and former Pro Gamer. I am someone who used to travel a lot to these "Majors" throughout the past couple of years. At the time, I thought it was worth it. Competitive Fighting Games was something that I once believed in, but for the past year, I started to realize that it is just a mere hobby that isn't worth investing too much money into. Honestly, it is the community itself that is slowly killing it. There just isn't much demand for quality events, more money, better production, etc. For most of these players, tournaments are nothing more than their own personal playground with no real ambitions to succeed competitively.

Let's be serious here, these Grassroots Tournaments are absolute TRASH! I just can't believe most of the players are happy with these events. The problems are: Tournaments run late, tournaments run very poorly, inappropriate behavior on streams where thousands of people are watching, and no REAL money in it, then have the nerve to charge the venue and tournament fees that they do. The issue with the money is the most important issue. Money makes the world go round and you need it to live. If you say otherwise, then you probably don't have any real responsibilities.

Big companies have given Fighting Games many chances throughout the years like: CGS, WCG, and MLG. What did the FGC do with all these opportunities? Shun them away... Why does this happen? Why does the FGC choose trash over treasure in every single situation ever? (Yes, everything, but I'm only talking about tournaments right now) As the costumer, you are paying for the product, but when you aren't happy with that product, then it becomes a problem. That's 99% of all Grassroots Tournaments....

Flying out to some Hole in the Wall Major can be very expensive. You spend a couple hundred on plane tickets. Another hundred dollars to chip in for a hotel room, if you don't get free housing. You pay a ridiculous venue fee along with tournament fees. Money for food and etc. ALL FOR WHAT? To compete in a game for a 1st place prize and not even coming close to breaking even? One example for me personally is Youmacon. I got first place in SC5, second place in DOA5, and fifth place in Injustice, and I STILL came nowhere close to breaking even on the money I spent for the trip out there.

"I only compete in tournaments for respect, not money."

It's scrub talk, but whatever. Ok, you play for respect alone, but what happens when you do good in your tournament and you don't even get the respect you deserve? The FGC has a Respect Problem. If they don't like you or care about you, they will take all your credit away and give it to some False God. When there is no money for these events, all you CAN play for is respect, but you don't even get that...

"This community started out with Grassroots Tournaments and that's how it's always going to be."

Let me tell you a little something about your Majors... They are garbage, but we already knew that and y'all refuse to actually admit it. I want to tell you about eSports now, something that many of you don't know about. Previously on Major League Gaming, MLG decided to add SC5, KoF, and MK9 to their roster because MLG wanted to win back the FGC. Yes, THEY WANTED TO WIN US BACK! THEY WANTED TO IMPRESS US! They put up large amounts of money for their Fighting Game rosters, but people barely showed up.

I'm gonna go on the record right now and say that MLG was BY FAR the best ran FG Tournament I have ever been to, and I'm gonna tell you why:
1. Tournament ran on time
2. Plenty of setups for tournament play AND CASUALS FOR THE WHOLE DAY
3. Very large venue
4. Very nice stage for featured matches
5. Free Hot Pockets and Dr. Pepper for the whole weekend
6. Free Old Spice because they know gamers be smelling bad
7. Made sure to hire FGC Leaders to run the FG portion of the event
8. Cash Contests running the whole weekend
9. A REAL Top 8 payout

You see, if you made Top 8 at MLG, you were getting paid very well. Even if you got 8th place, at least you can say that you broke even. On top of all that, if you made Top 8, MLG flew you out to New York for one of their side events to compete for even more money. So I ask this question, what sounds so horrible about all this again??? There is no reason why a tournament like EVO should have had more players than MLG. EVO now is just an excuse most of us use to go out to Las Vegas. I've gotten Top 8 at EVO before, back when EVO was cool, and even then, it took almost a whole year to get paid.

MLG was a product well worth investing in. They took care of you, the staff was great, and the environment was a breath of fresh air. But like I said, people barely showed up. King of Fighters players have absolutely no excuse for not coming. Y'all did it, y'all made it in the big times! Me personally, I don't know how in the world that happened, but it happened and I have no reason to be mad at that. So why was MLG KOF only a less than 20 man tournament...? The return of Fighting Games at MLG only lasted for a couple of events until MLG decided to scrap the idea again.

It's time to stop holding these horrible Grassroots Tournaments on a high pedestal and let Big Company take over. If you're a Tournament Organizer, find an eSports organization and partner up with them, and learn how to run better tournaments and have better staff so they aren't making you look bad. As for the players, stop trying to criminalize the group of players that actually want to make a living playing video games. If you have a passion for anything, and there is a market for it, go for it. Sponsored Players, most of you guys are on borrowed time. We can see that with FG Sponsorships that continue to disband. There is no real reason for a sponsor to send out players to regular ol' tournaments all the time. What would they gain? Something like MLG was a very good reason to send out players because of: Money, exposure, and media.

The FGC describes themselves as a "Family." Wouldn't you want to see your family be successful and well-off? Games like League of Legends and DotA are busy playing for millions of dollars, while FG players are busy splitting a pot of a couple hundred to a thousand dollars or these "Pro" Gamers begging their fans to donate money to them... Is the struggle really that serious? Grassroots Tournaments is what got things going, but now it is time to move on and let it burn to the ground. And also, no, I wasn't able to understand their thought process at all...

Follow me on Twitter: @CrackMamba