I’ve been following the fighting game community for almost 6 years now and one of the things I’ve always appreciated about it is that it has always been a grassroots effort. People take time and money out of their busy lives and take on the stress of running a major tourney. They do this not to make a profit (as far as I know, EVO doesn’t make a profit), but to keep the scene alive. I don’t think they want to exist in a world where nobody knows what a dragon punch is anymore, and I don’t think anybody could blame them. People like the Cannons, Wiz, Valle, and Keits have helped keep this scene alive for what feels like forever, and it is because of people like them that I can watch, communicate, and read about things in the fgc. In sum, the fgc is a scene that was made by people like us for people like us.
What I saw when I sat through the MLG stream was something entirely different however. It had some familiar faces I recognized, such as Wong, FubarDuck, and JuiceBox. It had a great fighting game (KOF), it had talented players playing this great fighting game, but as the stream continued I noticed there was one thing it did not have: my attention. As someone who has never seen a MLG stream before, I decided to give it a chance, yet instead of being treated to nonstop fighting game action put on by a community that appreciates fighting games, I was instead treated to nonstop advertising put on by a community that will only appreciate the fgc until its viewership drops.
This of course is not to say the fgc never puts on advertisements. Level Up does it, UltraChen does it, and I’m sure everybody on this site realizes SRK does it. So given the influx of new people since SF 4, SRK has had to advertise. Ok, I get it, you don’t make a profit off of EVO and need ad revenue to recoup costs, but mark my words SRK Illuminati, if you ever do what MLG did yesterday, not only will you lose the people who have been following you regularly, you will have effectively destroyed the grassroots community that made you the success you are today.
I found it absolutely ridiculous that for the first hour or two, there was literally a commercial after every match. The ENTIRE momentum of a set was blatantly interrupted just to make a quick buck. Then the next match in the set took place, followed by yet another commercial. At long last, we get to the third set and at that point it really didn’t matter to me who won or who lost because I knew that the next thing that would happen is yet ANOTHER commercial. Then they addressed that people were finding this annoying (who would have thought the stream monsters would actually do some good?) and they decided to instead advertise after a set of matches were complete, but even still, the damage had been done: I no longer cared about who was playing because … wait, no, they’re actually going to interview a player. Oh good, its the … BIC Razor Interview? (that wasn’t the precise name of it, but that’s the general idea) You would think that that would be awkward enough but the actual people that conducted the interview had absolutely no idea how to conduct an interview. It honestly seemed as though they went up to the most socially awkward people in the audience at the very last minute and said “who wants to be on the stream?”
Speaking of the audience, I’m sure I’m not the only one who noticed a little camera magic MLG pulled: During the course of the KOF stream, it was quite noticeable that the seats were vacant on the stream. Yet on the actual KOF stream, there was a moment where they pulled back to a different section and gave the illusion that there were actually people in the audience watching KOF. I found this to be quite ridiculous for two reasons: first, if there actually WAS an audience watching KOF, I know that people would have gotten up out of their seats for the double k.o. that happened; and second, the people that could actually BE heard cheering sounded like they were too far away to actually be watching KOF. Who are you trying to fool MLG? I know that people aren’t there. It’s your own fault for doing this when we all know that NCR is going to be held the following day. Do you honestly believe we are that gullible?
It is reasonable to consider that I am overreacting here. After all, if the fgc wants to evolve to the point where people like Justin Wong won’t need a day job to do what he does, certainly it needs corporations funding them. But as a community, we must learn to get said funding without sacrificing the “grassroots” aspect that makes us who we are. That is something that MLG has demonstrated that it is not afraid to do. With the exception of the actual matches (and perhaps the first five minutes of the stream), THERE WAS NOT ONE SECOND THAT DID NOT HAVE SOME SORT OF ON-STREAM ADVERTISEMENT IN IT. NOT. ONE. From almost the very beginning, I was harassed with advertisements. From the Dr Pepper Ultimate Access Fighting Games Pregame Show, to BIC Razor interviews, to ads for Sony and some no-name university displayed on the tvs in the background, to some guy in a deep voice telling me who the sponsors are. Even FubarDuck and JuiceBox did not have enough integrity to withstand it as was evidenced by the laughable and disingenuous dialogue about endorsing using BIC razors.
JuiceBox: You know what the hairs on my chin are saying? I mean, what they would be saying if I hadn’t used my BIC razor?
MLG has set a dangerous precedent with its stream. It has demonstrated that they are not so much interested in producing a quality fighting game stream with advertisements as they are a stream of advertisements with a fighting game that got played every now and then. This runs counter to our own precedent of playing fighting games to nurture and continue to support our community for its own sake. The fgc must continue to grow and evolve, but above all else, if it wishes to remain organic, we cannot sacrifice the quality of our streams to please people who only care about capitalizing on what we love to do.
tl;dr MLG sets a dangerous precedent that the fgc must not follow if the fgc wishes to maintain its integrity. IOW, if you want people to watch your streams, DON’T do what MLG is doing.