St1ckBuG has made a very impassioned post/article about BB not being at evo this year and possible things we can do about it.
You can discuss it here
To whoever decides to read this: I will be writing about things as they come to my head, so hopefully my brain will cooperate and put some kind of flow behind the wall of text that made its way onto your computer screen. I'll put a TL;DR at the bottom, but I encourage you to read on if you're interested about the BB community, how I see it, how I think others look at it, and why it ultimately leads us not being in the EVO 2012 lineup. After all this I will give you some plans that we could possibly make for the future.
I also encourage you to read Klaige's post on SRK about why we should stop complaining and rise up to the occasion. He covers the GG scene and its hurdles, not to mention it's a pretty good read. You should probably read the whole thread why you're at it.
I'm also going to be straight up honest: I will tell you what I think is garbage and what I think is great. I'm going to drop names, and specific tournaments. I'm a very open minded person and I consider myself very un-bias, so don't expect this to just be me explaining why GGAC is God's gift to the FGC without any thought... I'm an engineer, I like to think things through before I make a decision or say anything. I'll tell you what I think and why I think it. I've tried a lot of fighting games, and I usually pre-order each one as they come out. If I don't like it then I return it, no harm done. I don't sit in stream chats and complain about which game is on for 3 hours straight. I think most FG's aren't complete shit and are, at least, entertaining to watch.
I guess I'll start first by introducing myself and letting you know about my gaming background in respect to the FGC...
Hi, my name is Alan Bakes, but some of you might only know me by the handle 'St1ckBuG'. I started playing fighting games back in late '07 when GGAC was released on console. After my swim team was cut from the roster at the university I went to (Rutgers, New Brunswick) I found myself with a lot of free time. I started to go to the gaming club (Underground Gamers Society) to make some friends and play some games... and the rest is history: I started practicing FG's a lot and soon after that my role as TO (tournament operator) started at almost every big (North) East Coast major. If you've been to any of Big E's events or ECT then you've probably seen me at some point. I help out the anime community by recording/streaming events, running brackets, and bringing monitors/systems for tournaments. I help book rooms for my friends, feed people during tournaments, and drive people back and forth from airports, bus stops, and train stations. I consider myself a community leader: I help bring and attract people to tournaments to make the event hype and worth having. I've ran tournaments for versions of BB I did not like. I've rented cars and driven 10+ hours on no sleep to get people back from shitty tournaments. I've paid entry fees and added pot bonuses. I care a lot about the BB community and what goes on in it. So, in order to be able to describe the current state of our community it will be best if I start from the present and then go from there.
BBEX did not make it into EVO 2012 as a main game, and I'll be honest: this was probably the only year I was actually hyped up about because I consider EX to be the best BB so far. I didn't care so much for CT because it was stupid broken (so I didn't go to the side event at EVO) and I didn't like CS1 (so I was one of the people who voted for MvC2 to take its spot). I also didn't really like CS2 that much even though I played top-tier. I've never really been good at BB because I've never taken it that seriously and I can only blame myself for that. So why don't I just come out and say it: I've never been to EVO for BB. The only EVO I went to was '10 for Melty because I was sort-of into it and I had never been to an EVO before. So if you want to point a finger at someone for not supporting BB at EVO last year you can call me out on it. In a way I feel bad about it because the numbers were really bad and I'm one of the people to blame. We had our chance and I helped screw us over. When the people who run EVO look at the turnout from that year you can't hate on them for not wanting it this year. But there are a lot of other things that ended up working against BB for EVO this year, so let me discuss them one by one.
Netplay. BB's netplay code has gotten better and better every iteration. Combine this with the 5f input buffer and you've got a game that does very well over netplay... probably better than any other next-gen fighting game at the moment. This is a good and bad thing. It's good because it makes the game very accessible to people without a local scene to play against. It's bad because it can give people the feeling that they don't have to leave their house/apartment/room to play other people. But who can blame them? BB is a casual game that has given rise to a large netplay community. It's a game that doesn't give anyone a really good idea of how many people play the game. This was one of the many cries that the BB community had when the game wasn't announced for EVO this year, but people need to realize that it doesn't matter how many people play your game. This brings me to my next point...
Tournament Turnout. This is probably the second most important factor when deciding whether or not a game gets into EVO and it's something that the community is responsible for. Now if you want to talk about tournament turnout on the East Coast, I'm your fucking man. I'm the one running these things. I'm the one that's hyping them up and telling people to come out and support. I've helped run every NEC, Winter Brawl and Summer Jam since '08, ECT since it's first iteration, and numerous monthlies. I also stream monster every major BB event that I'm not able to attend. I don't necessarily keep track of the exact number of entrants at every major, but I'll give you the general idea of the most notable BB tournaments in the past couple years.
First let's start out with Summer Jam after CT's console release. I'm pretty sure we had around 80 entrants that year. I remember because I had never run a bracket by myself that big before. Next came Seasons Beatings not too shortly after. I'm pretty sure BB at SB had the same, if not more, entrants that SJ had a few months prior. Now what happens next I will cover later but I'll just explain it very shortly here: there are tournament 'blackout' periods between versions because of arcade release. NEC that year after SB had a low turnout and so did Winter Brawl. BB was not in EVO that year because of the CS1 console release date and community intervention. CS1 came out and the only notable tournaments that year were SB and FR. I can kind of stop here since none of those tournaments broke 100 entrants. I think there have only been a couple of BB tournaments that broke 100 entrants ever. Now why is this?
BlazBlue Demographic. Let's be honest: the BB community is just made up of anti-social-high-school-weeaboos that don't know how to play fighting games. They're all scrubs, smell horrible, have faces full of acne, and would rather watch their magical girl anime than go to a tournament and enter it. Right guys? Wrong. There are a few truths in this coupled with a few things that you wouldn't know about unless you kept track of why people don't travel to BB tournaments. Let's start out with that fact that many BB players are young. This either means they're a broke college/high school student, too young to travel, or a combination of both. I know this because I know the reasons why tournament players don't show up to the tournaments I help run. Too young to drive. Parents won't let them. Too broke. School. Finals week. The list goes on. Now before you say "all scenes have these problems" you need to understand that it affects the BB scene more because the average age of these players is lower than any other scene, and I won't lie: BB in the US is mainly played by people who like anime (who tend to be young), or who aren't bothered by it... but I'll get to this later. Another thing I notice is a lot of the BB community just doesn't care about tournaments because of netplay. They're happy in their own little world where they can log on, play a few games, talk shit on dustloop and then just log off. No harm done. Now this is where we run into a really big problem: you can't talk people into coming to a tournament. You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. Is this because they're anti-social? Sometimes. But other times it's not. I know there are probably a lot of people out there that are just scared of going to a tournament because they know it's a waste of money. Who can blame them? If you can't win a tournament, why go? This is another problem with the BB community: we have almost no pot monsters because the players like holding onto their money. It's called the poverty scene for a reason, but you also have to understand that a lot of younger players don't understand what a tournament is about. They don't understand the hype, chilling with friends, talking shit, sharing game knowledge, and getting good FG experience. I can't imagine being the best kid on my block and then traveling to a tournament by myself to play people I've never met before in my life. When I went to my first tournament I ran the brackets for it. I was forced to be friends with everyone there.
I'm confident enough to say that the main demographic for BB will never change. It's just the type of game it is and there's no escaping it. But there are other things that keep BB off the EVO radar...
Tournament Support. Now, let me get this straight: there are tournaments that support BB (and 'anime' games) in general, and ones that don't. I'll only list tournaments that I've been to instead of me complaining about events I've only heard about.
When you're participating in a tournament (whether you're a TO or a Player) there are a couple things that make the tournament experience enjoyable. It's nice when your event starts on time and there are enough setups for your event to run efficiently. It's nice when your area is big enough to accommodate everyone entered in it. It's nice when people communicate to schedule top 4 or top 8 so that others can watch it on the main stream (if there is one). This goes for every event at every tournament and no one likes to be treated differently just because of the # of entrants or type of game. People also like a TO that cares about the brackets. Having a TO with a stick up their ass that hates the game is never a fun experience.
So let's start out with the good and work towards the bad. NEC: probably the best EC major there is. Big E (and HuBBs) give us (the anime games) our own room, ask us if we need anything, and respect us as players and people. They want us to have fun at his event. If there's enough bandwidth they also let us have our own stream. Big E tries to get things started on time but it never happens (as is with most tournaments I've been to). We bring hype to their event and they give us the space and resources to do so. They gives us pretty much everything we ask for and we run our events without bothering anyone. We hype up our room and we're happy.
Next on the list comes ECT. The first year ECT was run it was a really bumpy ride for every game there. There weren't enough setups, it started late, the hotel staff was full of pricks, and the tournament was just chaos. We got to do our thing though, and I can't really complain since every tournament was equal here. ECT2 was slightly better but still had a few problems. If I remember correctly # of setups was still an issue, it still started late, and at least one of our tournaments wasn't run by someone in the community. Combine these with a PA system that not everyone could hear and we had an unnecessary DQ and a lot of angry people. IIRC, the TO DQ'd the 3rd place person by either sending them to losers or DQ'd him in loser's finals (I forget). Who the fuck does that? This past year though was fucking incredible. LI Joe and SJC bent over backward for us. They gave us our own stream (after going out an buying a router). They gave us our own area. We brought our setups, hyped it up, and did our thing. That tournament didn't run smooth for everyone though since there was a power outage on one side of the room and MK ran really late, but I think the turnout for MK was a lot bigger than they anticipated. A lot of pot monsters decided to show up I think.
Now for the bad: Seasons Beatings. I started going the 4th iteration and I was really impressed with the turnout for BB and GG. BB had around 90 people, which is amazing, and it ran without much resistance. I don't think there were enough setups to go around but that place was packed. We got our top 8 streamed and things were hype. I think my only complaints about that tournament were # of setups and starting late (which this tournament has a terrible reputation of doing). The following year was when things started falling apart. The turnout was still good (60+) but when we got to top 8 (and top 4 for GG) shit hit the fan. I'm pretty sure they started GG top 4 but then immediately stopped them to run marvel top 8. GG top 4 ended up taking around 15 minutes (after a 2-3 hours wait for MvC2 to finish), which ended up being the length of one marvel match because of how long the side-betting/hype took before each game. When it was BB's turn we were kicked off the stream before winner's finals and had to finish up by the bowling alley. Probably some of the best US CS1 game-play took place and it wasn't streamed or recorded. Getting the prize money took about an hour of hounding the TO's. With a 10 hour drive ahead of me, all I wanted to do was head home. This past year SB didn't even have BB as a main game even though it's had good turnouts in the past. If you want BB players to come to your tournament, work with us and we'll work with you. I'll get as many people as I can to come out to help support your event you're running for us. We respect you, so we expect to receive some in return. Don't treat us differently than other games: we paid money too. When your tournament leaves a bad taste in someone's mouth you won't want to be coming back next year... or I guess you could remove it as a main game all together. I remember a post in the SRK thread about getting our events streamed and hyping up tournaments... I guess renting 2 cars, packing them with 5 people each and driving 10 hours one way wasn't enough. Sometimes tournaments just don't stream BB, or we are last on the totem-pole to get streamed. It's just a fact at this point.
There's also something I'd like to clear up since a lot of people in the SRK thread were using this as an argument against the BB community: NEC this past year. I always try to hype up NEC, and this year was no different. When I heard Altus was adding a $1,000 pot bonus to KOFXIII, I decided that the BB community should go in too. I approached Aksys and said that we should add a pot bonus as well. I said that if they throw in $500 that I'll throw in $500 of my own. Team DRS added $100 as well, but I'm not sure if they added it before the $1000 or not. At this point everyone that was coming to NEC was already set in stone. The WC players that wanted to come out couldn't make it because of finals and money. One of the best EC players couldn't come because he was sick. A few players from NYC also didn't show up because of school and money as well. We had a player from Florida, and groups from Toronto and Montreal show up as well. BB at NEC was hype regardless of people not showing. The numbers were in the mid 40's, which was down from the previous year, but that is because less locals couldn't make it. I didn't expect the pot bonus to attract more players: I just wanted to hype up the event. If there's one thing the community has learned in the past is that pot bonuses do not attract more players for BB (see: Revelations). Aksys also brought BBEX (the newest version of BB) for everyone to play before console release. This was decided pretty late as well, so I didn't expect it to affect the turnout anymore than the pot bonuses.
Release Dates and Community Version Support. BB has this tendency to hit a massive downtime in-between version releases. When CS1 was released in arcades, all the tournament players started playing CS1 instead of CT. This means there was a half a year where turnout for BB was next to nothing. When EVO put BB into the line-up, as a community, we voted to have it taken out because everyone had already moved on to the new version, even though console wasn't out yet and we didn't have any idea of when the release date was. We didn't want to be playing an inferior game and we knew it wouldn't be entertaining to watch for people unfamiliar to BB. Fast forward a year and you end up with CS2 being patched in May, which was kind of nice because it was in the EVO line-up. As I stated before, I didn't really like CS2 so I decided to not go to EVO that year. Apparently the turnout was dismal, but probably still twice as large as any other BB major that year. EC doesn't fly out to EVO because it's too expensive and BB doesn't have 300 random pot monsters crawling out of their netplay holes to give their hard earned money away from mowing lawns and flipping burgers. It won't even work if you add $5000 to the prize pot. The anime scene is called poverty for a reason.
Sponsorships. One thing you could say the BB scene is missing is sponsored players, but this is probably a side effect of not having larger turnouts at majors. Our venue fees aren't paid for. Out plane tickets and hotel rooms aren't booked for us. I'm not calling anyone out or saying you're lazy if you're sponsored, because by all means you deserve your sponsorship: you're a good player. Our scene hasn't grown, nor is it popular when compared against other mainstream FGs, so I don't expect this sponsorship issue to change anytime soon unless we get some top players from other games to travel and play. I've heard that some sponsors won't let their players even touch BB... now that's fucked up.
The FGC. I remember when CT first came out and a lot of people were really hype to give BB a try. A lot of people dropped off because the game either didn't make sense to them or because of the way it looks. Others dropped off because of game imbalance or because it wasn't another GG. I'll be honest: I drop games for pretty much the same reason. I don't play HnK or FUC because of the execution barrier. I don't play Marvel because I don't like assist games and the neutral game feels random. I don't like SF4 because of the movement: I like airdashing. I enjoy spacing and footsies but the movement feels very sluggish. I don't like MK because of the movement (I like to be able to run/airdash) and the metagame doesn't suit me. I still have yet to give KoF an honest try because I just got my 360 back. I don't like 3D games because I just suck at 3D games. Tekken looks like fun but the amount of frame data and matchup experience you need is through the roof. People don't give Tekken players enough credit. Real talk.
So what am I getting at? A majority of the people don't play BB because of the reasons above, but choose to not play it because "it's a shitty anime game" that "only weeaboos play". When I watch BB I don't see a whole lot of difference from what's going on in any other fighting game: there's hype mixup, big damage, people getting blown up, runbacks, spacing... I could understand their complaints if they said that they don't like air-dashing (which is probably bullshit because they play Marvel), or if they said there isn't a character they really like yet. But even that last reason is getting less legitimate because the cast size keeps increasing with each iteration of the game. There are tons of different character archetypes now, so why do people keep bashing an honest game? It's too anime? I guess GG was too anime as well... give me a break #scumbagfightinggameplayer. When the FGC shits on a game, it's no wonder why a lot of people don't play it, and it's understandable why people might be scared to go to tournaments. I know there are people out there that just don't like playing the game, hell, I like BB and there have been versions of it that I just don't enjoy playing at all. But when the game is bashed into oblivion and others just hop on the bash wagon, what are other new players in the FGC going to think?
Wrapping Up. So let's talk about this yearís EVO. They went with a 6 game format which I think is good. There's a huge amount of decent FG's out now so 6 slots seems like enough to please a lot of people. Super and Marvel were the first two announced to no surprise. These games are by far the most popular FG's out right now. I might not enjoy playing them but I enjoy watching them both. I like to watch Super because it's a very tense game where an execution error has everyone holding their heads in the crowd. The best in the world flock to EVO for this event, so top 16 is always so tense and hype. Marvel is fun to watch because people get so salty when they get run back because of level 3 x-factor. Sometimes the obviously better and smarter player gets beat by random combined with a broken mechanic. It's good entertainment so I guess I can't complain. KOF and SCV were announced next. I think KOF deserves to be in there because there was a lot of effort into making this version since XII was such a flop. I hope the best in the world come to the US and put on a really good show. I think there needs to be a 3D game in EVO every year so SCV is understandable. I believe it will be a good game, so I can't hate on it. The community has been starving for a new iteration now and I think itíll be delivered. MK9 was kind of a head scratcher for a lot of people, even if they don't want to admit it. Ever since the first 10k pot tournament just after release the numbers have been dwindling. A lot of people talked like they were still getting these huge numbers when in reality they weren't (but I guess a good turnout varies from person to person). This is another game a lot of the FGC shits on though, so I can understand not a lot of new blood wanting to pick it up. I think a lot of people in the FGC put it next to BB in terms of popularity, so that's why you had some BB players complaining about it being in EVO. It's opinion vs. opinion, and if one game has slightly bigger numbers than the other at tournaments then the game with larger numbers is going to win (which MK9 has). But what happened next is what made people angry: SFxT. Give me a break. The gem system is outrageous, truly, truly, truly outrageous. A lot of people are looking at this game as a joke. The only reason it's in EVO is because of money. I don't run EVO so I can't say what they did is wrong, but goddamn. Don't tell me you think the game is going to be very good with its fighting-game-revolutionary gem system. Don't lie to us. You should've just kept the 6th game secret until the game was release on console. I don't even think there have been any loktests with the gem system implemented yet. Jokes. Jokes. Jokes. I hope it gets the 8AM grand finals slot. Oh no wait, it won't. That's for KoF most likely, even though it's a far better game.
I can bet that one of the main reasons that BB isn't in EVO is because of $$. Wizard has hinted it and it makes sense. But people need to remember that we have a 3v3 qualifier for BB Revolution in February. The grand prize is Japan airfare/hotel and a seed in the tournament in March. I'd rather have this event than an event at EVO personally, and if Aksys had to make a choice of what to sponsor the whole year, I'm glad they chose to sponsor majors and BB Revo. That means they care about the community. This event has the opportunity to be really hype if the right people show up, and hopefully the community pulls through. Aksys even expressed interest in helping smaller qualifiers send a team out to the main qualifier in Feb. That shows a lot of dedication to make this event big. I can't wait. I'm going. I might not enter if I can't find a team, but you can bet your ass that I'm going. BBEX is a good game and it deserves some attention.
So let's take a step back and try and combine everything then try and figure out where we should go from here. We have two main ways to branch out: we can make our community EVO worthy or not.
If we want to make our community EVO worthy then we need a bigger turnout at tournaments and we need to make sure that Aksys is behind our back to help sponsor EVO. To get a bigger turnout at tournaments... I don't know how to do this. We need some new blood since BB is hated (or not liked) by the already existing tournament players. Maybe beginner only tournaments? Online qualifiers for majors? Flying in popular Japanese players (Kaqn/Dora/etc.)? BB will stay BB, so it's up to us to attract more people to the serious tournament side of the game. If we can't get the hundreds of netplayers to come to their local majors, and then EVO, then what's the point of us banging our heads against a wall trying? Horse meet water, water meet horse. We have small turnouts but the people that show up to majors TRULY care about the game. But guess what? That doesn't matter. Numbers and money do, so we need to either step up or shut up.
If we don't care about EVO then we can go on just like we are now. Maybe we can all try to congregate at a real major that isn't EVO. NEC? Super NCI? Summer Jam? FR? ECT? If the FGC doesn't want to accept BB then why bother? Fuck EVO. Let's do our own thing. Let's all pool our resources and make an already existing major hype, or try to start our own. Who's going to lead the way? Anyone? You? Do we even care enough about the game to do this? I'm all for doing our own thing but we need to get together, as a community, and decide on this.
-We didn't get into EVO this year. Hold that shit.
-The reasons we didn't get into EVO are pretty obvious: player turnout and money.
-The reasons we don't get good turnouts are because:
1). The demographic that plays BB tends to be young, broke, or a combination of both. They can't possible travel to 2 majors in one year.
2). We don't have hundreds of pot monsters attending our majors. Too add to this we haven't gotten any new blood in the past couple versions. Some majors have removed BB from their tournament roster all together.
3). A majority of the active FGC does not play our game because they don't like it or because it's too weeaboo/anime for them. This bashing can cause other people to not play the game.
-There are 2 things to do now:
1). Keep trying to get our game into EVO for next year. Get new players and grow our tournament numbers. Maybe blow up EVO with a huge side event to show we really do exist.
2). Stop complaining about not making the EVO roster. Tell people to save up their money and hype up an existing major or make our own. Start acting more like a community.
Let's pick something and run with it.
What do I feel we need to do? I think #2 is the way to go. Netplayers and broke high schoolers will always be the same. Getting them to come out to existing tournaments is next to impossible. Pot bonuses donít get the existing FGC interested in our game. We should all congregate at one major a year and have a true BB tournament. Maybe change the location each year to not show any bias. Iím all for helping organize this, but Iím not going to do it if itís just going to involve a community that doesnít care about its game or its community. I want BB to grow but does the community actually care?