With eSports on the rise and expected to bring in revenues of over $1.5 billion by 2021, game developers from various different genres are trying to get in on the action and benefit from this rapidly growing industry. One of the most popular genres for competitive gaming is the first-person shooter, with CS:GO continuously attracting players and viewers since its inception in 2012. Fans of the Ghost Recon series have speculated whether the game could get a firmer grip on the eSports scene. The question is, would it be detrimental to the franchise if it did?
For a game to succeed as a top-played eSports title, it needs to be simplistic and understandable, but exciting and engaging at the same time. It needs to be regularly updated to keep players and spectators interested, but the core gameplay mechanics should not be altered too much. Games like Fortnite and Overwatch have succeeded in the competitive gaming market because they are easily accessible, not overly complicated, and new add-ons and expansions drop frequently.
The Ghost Recon series from Ubisoft has never followed this model of regular online updates and instead the publisher has released 11 separate titles since the first Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon was released for the PS2 and Xbox in 2001. Each offering is distinctive and complicated, which is part of the franchise’s appeal. If it were to be dumbed down for eSports, it may lose its depth and suffer irreparable damage.
Ubisoft already has a well-established eSports offering in Rainbow Six: Siege. The game was initially released in 2015 to widespread critical acclaim, and a few years later it was made into an eSports title with help from ESL. The game was simplified for eSports audiences and has excelled on the competitive gaming scene. Viewers can now even bet on markets such as these and sites like Mobilebet offer odds on other eSports as well. If the complex nature of Ghost Recon was broken down into a basic form for eSports viewers as well, it would be likely to upset a large proportion of fans of the series.
However, Ghost Recon Breakpoint suggests that Ubisoft is aiming to switch things up with the model of the franchise, perhaps making it better suited to the eSports market. It is the first instalment which requires players to be online all the time, putting it in the same context as titles like Fortnite. But the latest offering didn’t receive ideal reviews and was criticized for the introduction of microtransactions as well as underwhelming characters and plot.
Because of disappointment with the latest Ghost Recon title, Ubisoft should reconsider whether they want to change things and make their title more suitable for eSports. Perhaps it would be wiser to keep the franchise as it is and use the Rainbow Six series for competitive gaming. This would help Ubisoft to cover all the bases and appease different groups of fans.