Vainglory’s esports future uncertain
Super Evil Megacorp’s mobile MOBA game Vainglory didn’t take long to expand into an esport – the game expanded in more than one way, actually – from 3v3 matches to 5v5 battles, from a smaller map to a pretty big one… all in all, the game tried its best to match similar games on PC, depth-wise.
That’s a bold attempt to begin with, and when coupled with the fact that there are already two incredibly popular MOBAs on PC, it’s quite out there – the fact that it was immediately positioned as an esports title might have been premature too. It was a combination of unfortunate circumstances really, that led to the current situation – the competitive scene largely vanished.
While Super Evil Megacorp adjusted things for the 5v5 gameplay and set its newest Premier League esports season just a few months after the Vainglory 8 season… well, the reality was quite different. Things were delayed, delayed again and then delayed some more – plans never fully realised into a full league, organisations started dropping teams and sponsors pulled out too.
Now, in a move to reclaim things, the games has launched on Steam on PC and Mac. This opens up a much wider audience, previously having been limited to users of touchscreen-devices. Of course, this could breathe new life into the esports scene of Vainglory, but it might be too late already – while successful games have jumped from PC to mobile, it’s somewhat questionable whether a not-so-successful one can jump from mobile to PC.
Vainglory certainly has plenty of fans and users, but next to MOBAs like Dota 2 and LoL or even other popular multi-platform titles like Fortnite and PUBG, it failed to shine. That isn’t to say that there isn’t unique appeal to it – Vainglory is speedier without dropping strategy, features its own unique character pool and is pretty nice to look at – all of that isn’t quite enough to really hope to compete with the likes of League of Legends.
Then there is another issue that other titles don’t have (or at least not to this degree): Balance. Keeping gameplay balanced and fair between platforms isn’t easy and having only just made the jump to PCs and Macs, adjusting will take some time. PC users have an advantage – combos execute slightly faster and mice are pixel-perfect when it comes to accuracy, and that can affect the gameplay a great deal in pro circuits. At the moment, the pro scene is relatively quiet, though there are plenty of casual players if you want to pick up the game and give it a try sometime.
The ultimate idea is to allow competitive players to choose what device they want to play on – even if that means someone with a smartphone sitting next to a PC player. At the moment, this is quite far into the future though – until something close to a perfect balance is achieved, this is all just theory. Of course, Vainglory will have to work hard to even revive it’s esports community.
Currently without a structured top tier league, things are looking a bit dicey – though, there is one bright star on the horizon – the World Electronic Sports Games Grand Finals in Chongqing, China. The event is the effective end of the competitive season and will give Super Evil Megacorp the chance to revise and strategize for the next one… hopefully, with a fully structured plan, league and pro teams to back up the revival of the game.