This year for the first time, Milestone’s MotoGP game — in this case, MotoGP17 — will be taking on the world of esports, as Milestone have partnered up with Dorna Sports, MotoGP’s license holders to launch a MotoGP Esport Championship.
In this instance it’s unusual because while Milestone have made the game, and say that this final outing for their Milestone engine is the most realistic yet, the push to turn the game into a fully fledged esport comes from Dorna themselves.
Andrea Loiudice, Milestone’s marketing manager, says that all of the push has been from Dorna’s side. “It’s been exciting, a new step forward,” said Loiudice. “Representation came from Dorna which is pretty crazy for us. So, it’s not us pushing them to be part of this but it’s them asking us to create something. They are already bringing something, they are already bringing the sponsors in so this is completely different for us because it means they are involved completely. They will help on all sides of this.”
Dorna’s involvement brings with it several big-name sponsors from Moto GP, and this is reflected in the prize, with the eventual winner of the Esport Championship getting their hands on a BMW M240i. That a MotoGP tournament would give away a car as its top prize is amusing, but it’s no slouch, with a new one giving you very little change from £35,000.
Dorna’s involvement, Loiudice claims, can help with one of the biggest problems for traditional sports hopping into the digital world: the spectacle. “When I think about the other sports embracing esports, one of the problems I see is the show.” said Loiudice. “The quality of the show they give is poor. It’s not about them, they’re not at fault. It’s a problem we would have too. The comparison is when you see Motorsports on TV, you see replays, visualisations, etc.”
“Replicating those into the game, it’s impossible for anybody because you can’t render twenty cameras together to provide that. Dorna has been very good in helping us, because they basically know how to build a show. So they are finding solutions for any of these problems and telling us where we need to be on the technical side to fit with their techniques.”
“As a studio we’re working a lot with their directors right now to tune the director mode that’ll be in place for the final races of the tournament, and while this year it’ll just be used for our final races in November, next year it’ll maybe be part of the core game.”
The esports initiative between Dorna and Milestone is planned to last several years, with this years event merely to lay the groundwork for those to follow. The first step will be for players to beat a particular time on three different tracks. From there, players will have to register for the MotoGP Esports Championship, and then they’ll be in - the tournament itself is also taking the form of seven online-only time trials, before the top 16 will be invited to an event in November. The November event will be held at the track in Valencia, and broadcast live by Dorna’s TV partners.
It’s a big step forward for an area of esports that is rarely explored and Loiudice says the level of content they’re looking to produce: interviewing the winners of the first challenges, using their access to produce content for the esports event with the real MotoGP racers. It all comes back to Loiudice’s first comments about putting on the best show possible.
Dorna and Milestone are under no illusions that getting the most of out the event could take them some time: “They are realistic on what they expect,” says Loiudice. “Sometimes, when someone comes from outside the video games world, they speak about things they don’t know. But with Dorsa, their plans are realistic and credible so this helps a lot us to develop a plan which makes sense so we don’t expect to become bigger and biggest championship around in one year.”
It’s come together quickly. Dorna came to Milestone in November and the game had already been in development for a short while. “Dorna came to us and said ‘We want esports’ and we were like “What? This year?” said Loiudice with a laugh, “luckily, they said ‘don’t worry! We don’t want this level, we just want this level.” Louidice mentioned with his hands at the two different levels. The second of the two appeared much more manageable.
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They’ve faced many challenges, and these are issues the team are continuing to wrestle with.
“We don’t want to show a 45 laps race. We’re working on this, we’re working on how this gets packaged, similar to TV. We want to put the faces of the people in the starting grid, the real guys who went up to the finals. We want to create the TV graphics and lay them over the top.
“We know it’s a different audience, we know it’s used two different stuff but with the help of Dorna we think we can enlarge the audience of this. So, this is the first point we need to solve.”
“Secondly, we need to solve some issues which are network when you run an eSports competition with racing game which is much more difficult than a one-to-one games. If I play FIFA or League of Legends, the rules are incorporated in the games so it’s easy to run a competition. If I run a competition, my risk is the first curve bend. Everybody falls down because they are one against the other. So, we’re thinking a lot about this and how to handle this because now in real life, you risk to die. So, basically, you don’t run against everybody else, but it’s a risk we have on the online races so I can penalise you but in the end of ruin the show.”
“The idea (for the future) is next year already to have a full online championship and for some teams to have their own eSports team. It might take a few years but this is the direction they want to follow. It’s a vision we share with them completely”