F1 announces esports offering
In recent news, Formula 1, Gfinity and Codemasters will be joining forces to release the first ever the Formula 1 esports Series. This announcement follows earlier news regarding the launch of the F1 2017 game.
The initial month-long qualifiers – somewhat like Blizzard’s invitationals – will be held between the 10th and 11th of October, where 40 of the top drivers will be invited to participate. It has also been revealed that the finals will host 20 of those players and be held in November. They have stated that the inaugural season starts in September and the finals will take place in November. By this, it is likely their esports format will run a 3-month cycle.
While there is no mention of a prize pool, it is suggested that the winner of the event will be crowned the Formula 1 esports Champion Expert for 2018, qualify for semi-finals next year (same series) and have a character of themselves in the F1 2018 game. Whether there is money to be earned from this is another question entirely.
The Formula 1 esports series will be an annual competition according to organisers – seen as a movement towards greater investment in the future of esports. The event has been aimed at younger fans, whom are also advent gamers and may have previously had an interest in F1.
The official F1 2017 game will be released across the 3 major platforms, PS4, Xbox One and on PC.
Potential problems already on the horizon
While the game is set to be released on PC, XBOX and PS4, further details have yet to be explained regarding the Formula 1 esports Series. It is unknown which platform the series will be running, as they have only mentioned that the “quickest 40 drivers” will qualify.
If we assume the initial F1 esports series will only be compatible with PC competitors, it would pose a huge problem. Running an esports division for a single platform will outcast and ignore the wider market, already driving away a large portion of gamers on XBOX and PS4.
One solution would be for the eSports division to cross platform, where players from the two major consoles and PC can all play together, and as such compete together.
While it may seem the logical solution on surface, many great games have failed to create a cross platform system. If the F1 were to do this, it would be a game changing occasion for the industry and may force other titles to replicate their model.
Will it work?
One issue is that F1 fans tend to be older when compared to most other gamers. As such there will be an apparent lack of energy around the game.
Racing games also tend to be less intense and more predictable, which could lead to repetitive results. When compared to other games like LoL or Dota 2, there isn’t much for viewers to buy into.
Not to mention the unknown camera shots and outlays that are required to keep the audience interested. Popular games like Mario Kart have previously failed for the same reason, as the constant single player switching is extremely confusing and hard to keep track of.
While F1 has an astronomical amount of money from their live racing events, they will only tolerate a failing esports division for so long. How long will it last? Nobody knows – but don’t hold your breath.