720 Noscope Buyout: Activision Blizzard Rekt MLG

Pound your airhorn, crank up the dubstep, and scream Internet memes as if that level of ‘irony’ makes you any less irritating: Major League Gaming got totally #rekt. [My office, after work, bring a phone book and a sock filled with £3 in pennies -ed.]

Monolithic publisher Activision Blizzard has bought up the digital sports organisation, which hosts big tournaments and streams all sorts of competitive gaming things online. The acquisition comes as part of Activision’s plans to, in company head honch Bobby Kotick’s words, “create the ESPN of esports”.

First off, yes, MLG will continue to run big stadium tournaments and tours as well as its GameBattles online tournament platform, and they won’t be restricted to Activision games. Heck, MLG are barely involved with Activision games nowadays. Despite Call of Duty being a big driver of past MLG successes, only a few months ago Activision turned to the ESL, a rival of MLG, to help run their Call of Duty World League. So why pick up a flagging, indebted company? To bolster the Activision Blizzard Media Networks division with “proven live streaming capabilities and technologies”, they say.

Bobby Kotick explained more of their vision in the announcement:

“Our acquisition of Major League Gaming’s business furthers our plans to create the ESPN of esports. MLG’s ability to create premium content and its proven broadcast technology platform – including its live streaming capabilities – strengthens our strategic position in competitive gaming. MLG has an incredibly strong and seasoned team and a thriving community. Together, we will create new ways to celebrate players and their unique skills, dedication and commitment to gaming.”

Does your skin also crawl reading phrases like “MLG’s ability to create premium content”?

Pip’s our digital sports expert but she’s away right now, ironically to see the Smite World Championship – which MLG are involved with. I feel a bit like a clown filling in for her, twisting sausage balloons into the shape of ill-informed statements. Wakka wakka, look at me. Put me on a pedestal, and I’ll only disappoint you. However! While reading around this, I tripped over my giant clown shoes and landed face-first in this creamy eSports Observer piece about how the CoD World League may have been driven away by MLG requiring players to use the MLG.tv streaming platform, and thought “That sounds like something Activision would love if they were running it themselves.”

20 Comments

  1. wondermoth says:

    This is very interesting to me, as a Rocket League obsessive.

    MLG’s coverage of “Season 1” of Rocket League’s competitive scene was utterly pathetic. Their website is probably the worst I’ve seen this century, with an approach to navigation that would make Escher complain. This wouldn’t be too much of an issue, but because MLG believed itself to be in competition with Twitch (ikr), the competitions weren’t shown on Twitch *at all*, and would only be uploaded to Youtube several days later.

    All of the above made watching MLG’s “official” Rocket League Season 1 impossible for all but the most committed fans. I have over 500 hours logged in the game, and I couldn’t be bothered.

    Psyonix have been VERY quiet about Season 2. I had been praying that they would ditch MLG entirely, but a MLG-hosted S2 may not be so bad now, as it’s possible that Actiblizz might force MLG to suck less. Or perhaps they think a closed, borderline unusable broadcasting platform is a GOOD idea? I suspect they’re just buying it for the brandname, but…

    Idk. I only really care about Rocket League. The good news is, MLG.com can’t get any *worse*.

    • Petethegoat says:

      I vaguely remember watching an MLG CSGO event a year or so back, and thinking the production values were pretty damn good. Interesting that they did so poorly for Rocket League.

      • Horg says:

        Their DotA 2 tournament last year was pretty good as well, as far as production went. If I had any complaints its that the casting coverage was needlessly formal and trying far too hard to ape the style of american football commentary. At least they learned their lesson from a few years ago when they put the 720p stream for their Starcraft 2 tournaments behind a paywall. I hope ActBlizz remember how badly that failed and don’t try to force pay per view through again.

  2. Andrew says:

    [My office, after work, bring a phone book and a sock filled with £3 in pennies -ed.]

    Kinky.

  3. Ben Barrett says:

    Greatest headline in history of games.

  4. mukuste says:

    I always wonder why people associate MLG with those dubsteppy, ironic headshot montages. In my mind they are completely different, with MLG going (if mostly failing, mind) for the “serious sports” approach to competitive gaming.

    • Mokinokaro says:

      It’s because the guys making those videos often call themselves “mlg pros”

      MLG is forever ingrained in my mind from experience as “the league of 13 year olds saying disparaging things about mothers” even if the league itself turned things around.

    • FLoJ says:

      I’m gonna be that guy and blame consolitis.

      A serious sport company wouldn’t be broadcasting the sunday leagues of joypad controlled FPS (of questionable quality/skill) when there were premier league options played with more suitable inputs at a higher skill level.

      But then I’m an incredibly biased Quake player (got respect for the CS players too though).

      And ofc I understand that the money was in broadcasting console games for younger generations so from a business point of view, perhaps the xx720xnoxscopexheadshotxxMLGxx moniker was worth it.

      • Mokinokaro says:

        It has jack shit to do with consoles. Many CS/Quake/etc players have always been trash talking epeen idiots.

        • FLoJ says:

          180 rail flicks are so common in Quake that no-one bats an eyelid. 10 years later they’re considered 1337 skills in CoD…

          As has been flogged to death already a joypad is an inferior input *for competitive FPS* compared to a mouse.

          MLG started off with Halo on consoles rather than a PC FPS.

          This was great for popularity, less so if you actually wanted to see the highest level of FPS players.

          • Mokinokaro says:

            I think you forget how huge Halo was at the time. Its community heavily dwarfed that of Quake and CS.

            Even if the game was vastly inferior. We agree on that. Halo was NEVER a good game, just a very well marketed one.

      • PseudoKnight says:

        I’d have to agree. I always considered MLG a joke (even before we got the meme) because of their intense focus on console games, even when that game had superior PC versions. Definitely not “serious sports”. It wasn’t until SC2 was taken seriously that I paid any attention at all to them. Even then their coverage was abysmal for a while. There were so many better leagues then. MLG did improve some, but it’s still sad they get as much attention as they do.

        • Mokinokaro says:

          Personally, I think it’s sad that ANY eSport league gets the coverage it does

          (no disrespect towards those who like it, different strokes and all that)

  5. unit 3000-21 says:

    “like a clown filling in for her, twisting sausage balloons into the shape of ill-informed statements”
    Somehow Courtney Barnett came to my mind even before the link…

  6. guygodbois00 says:

    “Does your skin also crawl reading phrases like “MLG’s ability to create premium content”?” My skin crawls reading the phrases like “Bobby Kotick”, to be totally honest here.

  7. shoptroll says:

    This is by far my favorite opening paragraph in an article in a long time. Thanks for putting a smile on my face this morning Alice :)