High Risk, Low Reward - Players Reflect on Issues within the MDI
03/04/2021 à 21:02
Following the conclusion of Shadowlands Season 1 Cup 4 of the Mythic Dungeon International, MDI champion player Naowh
released a spreadsheet
comparing the prize pools awarded to the top place finishers to the number of hours each team spent. With the top team receiving barely $17 per hour spent on the event, it shines another light on the skewed time to rewards ratio within WoW esports and is cited as one of the principle reasons for decreased participation within the WoW Mythic Dungeon International.
With the spreadsheet sparking several lines of discussion, Twitch strategic partnership manager Cody Conners (aka multi-gladiator Evoli) shared his own assessment of the situation in a
lengthy chain of tweets
, noting the relatively low viewership of WoW's MDI and AWC compared to other esports tournaments, and how the rewards structure isn't designed to pay living wages so much as grant visibility to participating players in an effort to grow their own brands - another thing that can be very hard to make a living off of.
The PvP Arena World Championships have similarly suffered, with
professional players turning to coaching
, piloting, and other bannable forms of real money transactions. The unfortunate relativity here is that Blizzard isn't trying to pay annual salaries to their winners, but competing at that level requires a time commitment which leaves little room for anything else.
Instead it's seen as a more symbiotic relationship in which the player or team brands gain visibility through the AWC and MDI, though that visibility doesn't always amount to much, considering the extreme disparity between the highly successful streamers who make far more than any game developer, and the "average" full time streamer who barely makes a living wage. Some of the bigger teams have found
, but not all MDI competitors don't have that opportunity, and relying on outside sponsorship is a huge deterrent to less established groups trying to break into the venue. Many of the individual players also stream successfully on their own, but their audiences are generally already fans of WoW, so simply paying them more isn't likely to drive larger audiences to Blizzard games.
That said, some well diversified players have abandoned the game, potentially taking their audiences with them. Golden Guardians tank Lightee famously
dropped the MDI in favor of Path of Exile
, going on to
in a mere two days. This event wasn't funded by Grinding Gear Games however, as we again see the impact of third party sponsorship, but the big difference is simply the time commitment involved.
While the seemingly obvious solution would be to increase prize money, Conners asserts that the viewership doesn't support it, and it's difficult to claim that greater prize money would lead to higher audiences anyway when the most viewers aren't there for any one particular player or team. Another solution would be to find a way to reduce the drastic time commitment required to participate in the MDI, as the current high time commitment is a barrier against more casual players, while the relatively low rewards deter professional ones.
Either is a hard sell though, as neither address the root of the problem - relatively low MDI viewership. Despite the issue raised in Naowh's spreadsheet, it's hard to justify a bigger prize pool without the audience to support it.
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