Monday, April 21, 2014

The Rise of MOBA’s and the Growth of Competitive PC Gaming

By. BZork

 Every few years, a video game genre takes over the scene and inspires many similar titles to come around and dominate, producing lookalike after lookalike; we saw it with World of Warcraft, and the rise of MMO’s, and as of the 2010s, it seems like MOBAs (Multiplayer-Online-Battle-Arena) have fit the bill as the flavor genre of PC gaming, much to the pleasure of some, and annoyance of others.

With spiritual roots linked to Blizzard RTS Warcraft III's custom game modes, such as Defense of the Ancients (DotA) and Aeon of Strife (AoS), the concept behind the MOBA is a quick-paced, highly competitive team-based strategy game. You assume the role of one of several heroes/champions, and team up with other champions/heroes controlled by four other players. The goal is simple, or appears to be: breach the enemy team’s towers across three lanes, and destroy their Nexus/Ancient/Throne. What makes the genre so enthralling and fun, is the sheer amount of combinations one can make, according to hero choice, form of leveling, items to be purchased and out-of-game options, such as League of Legends’ runes and masteries system. The possibilities run into the thousands when it comes to all possible combinations, and when you add up how certain characters play, you have a recipe for a game that is constantly changing and evolving.

Due to the rise of MOBAs, in particular the genre’s biggest two titles: DoTA 2, produced by Valve, and League of Legends produced by Riot Games, the competitive PC gaming scene has grown significantly in the past three years. What was often thought to be the pointless dream for gaming’s many enthusiasts has become a reality, culminating in the possibility for gamers around the world to live off of earnings from tournaments and often-times live streaming their games for viewers on, earning six-figures or more. Last year, Valve’s “The International 3” for DoTA 2 became the tournament with the largest prize pool ever, topping off at around $2.8 million dollars, of which it gave $1.4 million to the 1st place winners, Alliance, a Swedish team of pro-gamers. Whereas the League of Legends Championship sold out the Staples Center in LA.

This is not to say that MOBAs are the solution to gaming’s gripes, seeing as many enthusiasts have several reactions of the genre, ranging from sheer hatred to obsessive fans that literally live-stream for the majority of their day in hopes of making enough money to get by. However, no one can ignore that they have brought a lot of interest, sponsors and a breath of fresh air into the competitive gaming scene, even more still driven by the fact that one need not spend any money at all to get into MOBA’s. Most are free-to-play, with usually low-hardware requirements for computers to run them, as seen in League of Legends’ case. Whether you love ‘em, or hate ‘em, they’ll probably be around for a while (Seeing as World of Warcraft is still going strong after 10 years in the MMO genre. . .), so give them a shot! Puerto Rico has vibrant communities for both of the genre’s mainstays, so it’s worth looking into. Who knows... You might find yourself enthralled by the genre’s charm, or turned away entirely by the skill-curve and the community, there’s only one way to find out!

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