Our Future and Hopes - Interview with Jason Lake Part Two

Written by Offsajdh
Nov 24 2011, 7:53 AM EST

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Tonight we continue with the second and final part of our interview with compLexity founder Jason Lake and get his thoughts on the future of eSports going into 2012. We will touch on everything from new and upcoming eSports titles to the impact of streaming and the importance of showing your support to the companies who sponsor eSports. If you happened to miss part one of our interview regarding eSports history and the lessons we’ve learned along the way, just head on over here to get better acquainted with our past before delving into our future.

Part Two, Our future and our Hopes.

WellPlayed - 2011 has been an eventful year for eSports on many fronts. What will compLexity do to prepare for the upcoming year with the planned releases of new eSports-oriented titles such as CS:GO and DotA 2? Or is it too early to say whether they will establish themselves as tournament titles?

Jason Lake - We're always scanning the horizon for upcoming eSports titles. I think DotA 2 has a solid chance of becoming a major title, but we'll see. As far as CS:GO is concerned, I'm cautiously optimistic but if I was a betting man I wouldn't put any money on it. We desperately need a good FPS right now but I'm not convinced it will be the one that returns the fragging faithful to our former glory.

WP - Streaming has increasingly become a part of eSports as both tournaments and players have gotten better at using the technology. How do you envision streaming evolving in the upcoming years along eSports?

JL - I'm glad you touched on this because I don't think the general observer has a true appreciation for the impact affordable live streaming has had on the growth of eSports. Companies like Twitch.tv have provided our community with a free outlet to distribute our live content globally in a way that wasn't even imagined in 2000. Back in the wild west days we were happy to have a live audio stream (TSN for life) and the ability to log in to a HLTV server to watch the match. Today's technology has enabled us to deliver a true sporting environment to living rooms and Barcrafts around the world. It has made e-celebs out of hosts and casters and revolutionized the way we consume our pro gaming entertainment. It has also provided supplemental income to many pro gamers and has enabled them to focus more on practice and less on part time jobs. As far as the future, I'm sure the technology will continue to evolve, but the basics we need are already there and have solidified our sense of community and connectivity.

WP - Do you think it's likely that we'll see more game developers try to cater to a growing eSports audience and supply more titles with high-level competition in mind? Or will it continue to be a fringe demographic for developers to appeal to?

JL - I'm very happy to see developers supporting the games they create and ecstatic that they're finally understanding the viability (and necessity in some cases) of supporting the eSports community. For many years there were companies that should have been doing this but they snubbed their noses at us. It's a great feeling to see this new trend and I hope it continues.

WP - What aspect of eSports could and should we improve the most in the coming few years? What are the principal things we need to change for our own benefit? More spectator friendly tournaments, better organized long-term leagues, something else entirely?

JL - I could really get on a soap box with this question and rant for hours but I'll keep it short. Fans of eSports need to support the companies that support us and not support the ones that don't. Many of us have spent thousands of hours trying to convince corporate America that this is a wise investment only to have most of them laugh and walk away. Today, for the first time in a long time, we have the demographic statistics needed to raise the eyebrows of important people who can finance our collective growth. Purchase the products and services of the companies that support your favorite teams, leagues and gamers. Let them know WHY you're doing so. If you're considering a product that doesn't support eSports when their competitor does, let them know why you're going with the competitor. Broke college student who can't afford anything? Hop on Facebook and Twitter and reach out. Shameless plug example: Let SoundBlaster know you appreciate their support of compLexity. Only when we band together and speak with our wallets and our social media will we secure the funding needed to continue the growth of eSports.

WP - What should game developers who are currently trying to make competitive games take note about from games like Counter-Strike? Not necessarily FPS games, any genre. Is there a secret ingredient to making a great eSports-friendly game?

JL - I don't think there's a secret because creating a great game is more of an art form than a science. My only advice would be to focus on the GAMEPLAY and not get so sidetracked with the graphics. The graphics grow mundane and outdated quickly. Great gameplay does not.

WP - With CS:GO on the horizon, will we once again get to see you pacing back and forth, sweating bullets on behalf of your players? Or is it too early to know if Global Offensive will become a worthy successor?

JL - I'd like to think so because I really miss the team dynamic and the intensity of 5v5 Counter-Strike when thousands are watching and thousands of greenbacks are on the line. However, like I said before I'm cautiously optimistic about CS:GO but am not ready to bet on it just yet.

WP - Complexity first invested in a DotA team way back in 2006, and that genre has since then grown to quite a formidable force with a number of different titles all competing for the same player base. Where does compLexity see that race going? Will DotA 2 be able to dethrone League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth, and the other MOBA games out there, or will there still be contention among which game is the primary title for competitive play?

JL - I'm honestly not sure where that scene is going. We believe in it and know its massive fan base is passionate about it (that's why we started our show MOBA Weekly). Which game will win out? I've got my opinions but will sit back and let the fans decide.

WP - In an interview you did back in 2008 on “CGS Live” with DJWheat, Jason Lake said the following:

“When you really truly believe in something and you’re passionate about something, as I know you understand very well (referring to DJWheat), then you’re willing to make sacrifices, you’re willing to go out on a limb, and if you have a loving family they will go out on that limb with you, and that is the compLexity story.” - Source (Youtube)

Now you’ve been passionate for eSports for quite some time, but that has also made you vulnerable to get burned. Having seen what you have seen, is that fire still as hot as it used to be? Will you still go out on that limb as eagerly as you once did?

JL - That's the million dollar question, isn't it? I'll be honest with you. Some days I think I've been let down too many times. I've been disheartened one time too many. I've been stabbed in the back for the last time. I feel that 8+ years, $500,000 of my own money, and thousands of hours of hard work is a legacy worth retiring from and moving on with my life. It's like holding a candle for a long time and watching the flame snuff out in rainy, stormy weather. Then I'll get a private message on our website from a fan who has a simple word of encouragement and appreciation for what compLexity has meant to him personally. It's the love of the fans like that which keeps me reaching in my pocket for a lighter. If they keep holding the umbrella, I promise to do my best to keep the candle lit. Together we can weather any storm.

Thanks again for the interview and thanks very much to the corporate partners who stand by our side: Creative SoundBlaster, PNY, Origin, Twitch.tv and NationVoice.

And with that we’d like to thank Jason for the interview and for sharing some of his accumulated knowledge from the many years he has spent on the front lines of eSports.