A recent interview on an episode of The Losers Bracket featured Sundance DiGiovanni , the co-founder and CEO of Major League Gaming. During the lengthy interview, some questions were asked regarding Diablo 3 and the answers were quite… exciting.
Sundance hinted at some very big news but was careful not to give much away. When specifically asked about what future titles MLG is planning to work with, DiGiovanni avoided directly answering the question. Instead, he stated that “there’s stuff in the works” and that a company based out of Anaheim “might be working with us. So, uh, you can piece that together. I can’t really comment.”
He also clarified that a recent tweet referencing going to Anaheim after E3 (which takes place in Los Angeles from June 5-7) did have something to do with an event at the Anaheim Convention Center with the unspecified company (Blizzard) and the unnamed new MLG title- implying Diablo 3.
During the course of the interview, DiGiovanni did state that the decision to release the game sans PVP was not something that was influenced by MLG but that they do have an excellent relationship with Blizzard.
It’s going to be really hard for us, as competitive gamers, not to get our hopes up as to what all of this means with Blizzard being their normal, secretive selves but we have yet to hear anything from them in regards to this possible new partnership. In fact, Blizzard’s public position on Diablo 3 PVP has been fairly consistent since the beginning- as shown by this relatively recent tweet from Jay Wilson on the subject:
We can read into these conflicting comments in a number of ways, but these are a few of what I think may be more probable- especially considering the massive success that World of Warcraft and StarCraft have seen as eSports.
The most likely possibility, in my opinion, is that MLG may have access to/employ a separate, eSport-ready version of the arena. This version would likely have restrictions on builds, such as fewer or no runes, since that has been the main reason that Blizzard has not wanted to even attempt balancing at the competitive level. This version could easily work like Blizzcon’s arena build with stat-less gear, except for rings, or have class-specific sets favoring the most beneficial stat for each.
This option would also allow for multiple, separate PVP types (making even more people happy). When the PVP patch is finally released, there could be an option to differentiate between the ‘normal’ arena (as we know it now with all the possible builds from the campaign version of the game), ‘hardcore’ (for those not afraid of a permanent death, though, that may or may not apply to PVP like it does to PVE), and an ‘eSports’ version (MLG ftw).
Another possibility is that Blizzard may be allowing MLG to assist the developers with the PVP-specific balancing process. Doing so would free up the developer’s time so they can focus on other aspects of the game while simultaneously preparing the arena for an eSport debut. While I believe this is less likely to happen, it would still mean that quotes like Jay’s tweet remain true. After all, Blizzard never said they were against Diablo 3 becoming an eSport- they just didn’t want to take on the immense work it requires to get to that point. However, I don’t see this as very likely unless there are separate versions of the arena due to the restrictions it would cause to build diversity.
And, let’s not forget that Blizzard is still hard at work on a console version of the game as well. With MLG’s background in both console and PC games, the Anaheim Convention Center event after E3 may have something to do with that as well- whether there are plans to make the console version of Diablo 3 into an eSport or not.
You can watch the interview in its entirety below. If you’d like to skip to the Diablo-related stuff, it starts at about 1:14:26.
Additionally, I’d love to hear your thoughts about the situation in the comments below.