It’s All About the Game
Some games are so good, they are virtually immortal – thanks to the communities that keep playing them even decades after their release. We have a look at passionate gaming communities that do anything to keep their favourite games alive.
Sometimes games are like great kings. In their time, they are the unquestioned ruler of their genre, everybody knows them and then their reign eventually ends. This was also the case with Warcraft 3, Blizzard Entertainment’s real-time strategy (RTS) classic in 2010.
Its decline was a fratricide really: its little brother and eventual successor, StarCraft II, was Blizzard’s next big shot at the RTS market, received all the attention and most prize money. Many abandoned the old king to gather behind the usurper. In a brief period somewhere between 2010 and 2011, StarCraft II was the esport, before MOBAs like League of Legends and Dota claimed the sceptre and ended the great RTS era for good.
WarCraft: The king is dead, long live the king
Without WC3 and Valve’s Counter-Strike, esports would hardly be what it is today. However, despite most players bidding farewell to the scene, Warcraft kept on existing in another eco system: in China, the game remained extremely popular with thousands of players, while StarCraft II had a more difficult time finding an audience there.
At the same time, nostalgic European WC3 fans defied the influence of SC2. In their opinion, the new game lacked soul and really interesting battles as they found the game’s pace much too fast. Jannes “Neo” Tjarks and Remo “remodemo” Rimmel started with Back2Warcraft a project that, in retrospect, would help WC3 to gain a second life.
Back2Warcraft has covered an incredible number of tournaments in the five years past, shed a light on personalities in the scene and earned a large following by doing so. Although Blizzard’s take on a remaster, Warcraft 3: Reforged, received devastating feedback from fans and critics, Back2Warcraft and the WC3 scene have maintained their passion for the game, even fixing it where Blizzard doesn’t provide the resources. Although WC3 will never be king again, it certainly is loved by many and will be around for years to come, with or without the developer’s support.
Smash Bros. Melee: The game that defies time
Where WC3 fans may complain about the lack of support from the original game developer, the Super Smash Bros. Melee scene had to fight for its existence on quite a different level. The brawler from 2001 is the second part of the popular Smash Bros. franchise, in which many popular Nintendo characters engage in extremely entertaining fights.
While Melee’s successors catered to a more casual audience, the pro scene and eventually the audience stayed with the GameCube classic. This went so far that Nintendo tried to intervene in a SSBM championship in 2013. The Smash community raised $93,000 to get their game featured at EVO 2013, but the developer tried to forbid the tournament from being streamed. Massive critique led to Nintendo refraining from their plans and the tournament took place and was even allowed to be broadcasted.
Even today, SSBM is still the master discipline of the franchise and incredibly popular, especially for a 20-year-old game. Much to Nintendo’s discontent. The developer never intended to make a game that competitive as this goes against its philosophy of including everybody, not just a hardcore audience.
Its scene features some of the most exciting storylines and characters in the entire esports world and it deserves to receive even more attention.
Age of Empires 2: Wololo to victory
Age of Empires 2 is an RTS classic just like WC3. The game, which is embraced both by casual and pro players, was developed by Microsoft and released in 1999. Its historical setting as well as its tactical depth made the game a timeless classic. And even 20 years later, Microsoft still feeds it with updates like new civilisations and campaigns.
Microsoft developed a remaster for the game in 2020, but in contrast to WC3, it has been a widely acclaimed success. One of the biggest tournaments recently was the Red Bull Wololo featuring multiple world-class AOE veterans like the legendary Ørjan “TheViper”, Serbian player Darko “DauT” Dautovic and the Chinese virtuoso Mr_Yo.
The AOC-sponsored event went on for over four days and reached more than 56,000 concurrent viewers. So great was this success that AOC and Red Bull partnered up again for another iteration of the series which was held in August 2020. Not bad for a 21-year-old game.
The heyday of these three classics may be over, but just like great kings, their legacy is going to live on for all eternity. Despite all the competition these games get from more modern ones, it is quite remarkable that they are still alive and well after two decades – thanks to the people who are so passionate about them.