By Sundance DiGiovanni

2011 was an incredible year for everyone involved in competitive gaming.The very real growth of the scene is, more than anything else, a direct result of the involvement and support of the community. Our tremendous, passionate fanbase has helped bring eSports to the forefront of sports and entertainment, but we haven’t reached the finish line yet.  

 2012 is the year where we will push eSports even further and solidify it as a legitimate sustainable business, on par with the most successful leagues in the world. We need your help to make this happen. We need to establish that there is an engaged audience for eSports and demonstrate why everyone (spectators, gamers, marketers and companies) should support the players, the community, and the business of competitive gaming.

Our goal at MLG will always be to give aspiring gamers a platform to compete, while broadcasting that competition to spectators and fans. We have done a good job of delivering a quality broadcast multiple times a year,  but now it’s time for us to offer you more: more competition with events like the upcoming Winter Arena, more of the best global competitors like the 32 incredible StarCraft 2 players that we are flying to NYC to compete in a few weeks, more live online broadcasts with a new and enhanced viewing experience, more streams to thoroughly entertain you, and continued Championship events where spectators can interact and experience the scene in person. 2012 is poised to be our best year yet.

 With all of these additions comes added cost. For example, it costs roughly $100,000 just for travel, accommodations, and other expenses for all 32 players to get to NYC for our Arena event. We have amazing brands and partners that help cover the fees associated with our new offerings; however, we cannot continue to grow and bring you an expanded competition calendar unless we make some changes to the business model. Today we are rolling out a completely new type of paid product offering that, if well-received, will allow us to dramatically increase the amount of meaningful live competition we broadcast each season.  The same basic Championship experience that was free last year will still be available as a free broadcast; so will events like the Online Qualifiers. Some of our completely new offerings, like the Arenas, will be available only by paying a fee.  The breakdown is clearly outlined below.

 With every new year comes change, and growth, and the chance to do things better and bring you more. If you truly want to support the industry and players, while getting a greater amount of top-quality gameplay, we encourage you to participate in the new MLG Premium offerings. If you want to take your involvement a step further, we are introducing the MLG Referral Program, where members of the industry and community will receive a portion of the proceeds raised from the new Premium Offerings in exchange for spreading the word. 

If you have ideas about how we can make MLG even better, we urge you to share them. Our ultimate goal is to keep your (and our) passion for gaming alive, and we can’t do that without your help. We’ve never been more excited about a Pro Circuit season, and while we know there are a lot of new details to absorb, in the end the message is simple. This is the year we bring you the best.

The MLG SC2 Winter Arena

Check out the demo page and buy a pass

MLG’s first Arena, on 2/24-2/26 in New York City, will be a PPV event. The Event will run from 5:30pm-midnight on Friday, 1:30pm-10:00pm on Saturday, and 1:30pm-8:00pm on Sunday (all times ET). Full details about the broadcast schedule and player list can be found here.

For just $20, you’ll get: 

  • 20 hours of live gameplay
    • Every single match from the tournament will be streamed with commentary
    • 32 of the world’s best players will be competing for $26,000 in prizes, as well as Championship seeding.
    • The broadcast will air live– Friday, 2/24 – 5:30pm – midnight ET, Saturday, 2/25 – 1:30pm – 10:00pm ET, Sunday, 2/26 – 1:30pm-8pm ET
  • FIVE live streams in HD for the entire weekend
    • The MLG Main Stream:  the highly polished content you’ve come to expect from the Pro Circuit
    • Three gameplay streams: constant action and commentary from some of the best up-and-coming StarCraft 2 casters
    • The Dr Pepper MLG Ultimate Access Stream: go behind the scenes for a candid look at your favorite players that will feature interviews, polls, chat, and more
  • MLG’s new Premium streaming experience page (view demo and explanation of page features)
    • Never miss a moment–watch up to all five streams at once
    • Quick access to the brackets, schedule, liveblog, chat, and more
    • Instantly switch audio tracks and position each stream on the page; customize your own experience
  • Instant access to VOD
    • VOD will go up immediately following each match, right on the page
    • VOD will be released for free for those who didn’t purchase an Arena pass one week after the end of the competition

For $20 you get a full weekend of nothing but the absolute best StarCraft 2 in the world. That’s roughly the same cost as a trip to the movies (with a stop at the concession stand), a large pizza, a small venue concert, or a round of drinks. Don’t want to buy anything without seeing it first? We agree, and we wouldn’t ask you to. You should know exactly what you’re getting.  We’ll be streaming the first match from the Main Stream and each of the three gameplay streams on Friday and Saturday for free. And the Dr Pepper MLG Ultimate Access Stream (more info on this soon) will be free to all, without an Arena pass, all weekend long. Go check out a full demo of the premium streaming page and we promise you’ll be hooked for the entire weekend.

The MLG Winter Arena PPV Event is not included in any of MLG’s current Membership packages.

What about the Winter Pro Circuit Championship?

As has always been the case, our live Championship Events will continue to have a free standard-quality broadcast. In order to access the extra StarCraft 2 streams and the Premium streaming experience page, and to get all the streams in HD, you’ll need to purchase an MLG HD Championship Pass: just like you’ve done in previous years. The price of this pass is still to be determined, and will be announced in the coming weeks.

While Gold Membership does not include access to Arenas, everyone with an MLG Gold Membership will receive full Premium access to all MLG Championship Events for the duration of their Membership.

If $20 is out of your budget or if you just don't like the idea of paying to view the Arena Live, there are other options. Pool some money with friends, or attend a Barcraft in your area. If there are no local Barcrafts, organize one—and let us know your plans so we can help promote it. Lastly, all matches will of course be made available free to everyone as VOD, one week after the Arena wraps up. 

In the end I'm sure some of you will be very vocal in your displeasure of our plans, but I truly hope that once you have had some time to digest what we have planned, you will see it for what it is—a required step in furthering the growth and success of eSports.

 

Check out the demo page and buy a pass