Crytek, known for its powerful game engine (CryEngine) and award-winning Crysis franchise, has officially entered the world of eSports in a recent partnership with ESL. Crytek’s free-to-play first-person shooter, Warface will be the focus of the Go4Warface tournament beginning August 7—featuring weekly competitions and a cash prize. The top eight teams will then be invited to a monthly final, with even more money and prestige on the line (it’s currently at £500). Over the last 12 years, over 225,000 unique players and 54,000 unique teams have competed in Go4 cups, according to ESL, earning more than $1 million US in prize money. Many of these players moved on to compete in the WCS, LCS, Intel Extreme Masters and ESL One.
Entering the nearly $1 billion eSports industry is an important move for the company, and Warface was an ideal starting point to test the waters. Ilya Mamontov, Crytek’s director of game operations explains:
What makes Warface ideal for eSports?
There are three main aspects that make Warface ideal for eSports. Firstly, its competitive gameplay. You need to be better than your opponents, both as a team and as an individual, which means you really need to sharpen your skills in multiple game modes. Secondly, Warface is a highly cooperative game. You could be better than any of the gamers on the opposing team, but if you don’t work with your teammates, you’re likely to lose. This aspect of the gameplay is deeply ingrained in Warface—we have four classes of fighters, and some class-specific equipment is used only to help teammates, like the medic’s defibrillator. And thirdly, our gameplay is tactical and fast-paced. You always need to consider your next move, and you need to do it quickly. So it’s always interesting to watch battles play out in Warface, and that’s an important part of eSports too. So these three things—fast-paced tactical gameplay, and the strong cooperative and competitive aspects—make Warface a perfect fit for eSports.
Why did Crytek choose the European fan base in particular for the competition?
We felt it made sense to start close to home from a logistical point-of-view, and with the ESL being based in Cologne and our HQ in Frankfurt, it seemed like a good fit to focus on Europe first.
Are there plans to expand the Go4Warface Series to the US or other territories?
Yes! This is the first time Crytek has been involved in eSports and we’re very excited to see how these upcoming tournaments play out. Ultimately, how things evolve will depend on the Warface community, and we’ll only expand to other territories if we see a growing number of teams taking part.
How will Crytek leverage popular online streamers or other existing communities to promote the Go4Warface Series?
Community is at the heart of Warface, so these outlets are an essential part of getting the word out there. We’re definitely happy to work with streamers who are passionate about first-person shooters and interested in Warface, but forming lasting relationships with popular online personalities is only one aspect of what’s possible in this area.
One thing that we’re really excited about is a YouTube program our Live Operations and Community team put together called the “Warface Operative Network.” The program looks to create YouTubers, and even streamers, directly from the community. So if someone is creating Warface videos that really stand out, we will give them media training and mentorship and visibility within the game’s community to promote them within our ecosystem and grow their channels. We believe in the passion of our own community and want to foster a fun, encouraging environment for them to be creative in.
Will Crytek implement cross-promotion for the tournaments across its other brands, such as Arena of Fate?
At the moment we don’t have such solid plans; we want to focus on Go4Warface as a standalone project and attempt to make it huge! But in the future, we’ll consider possible cross-marketing ideas.
Should these tournaments become popular, do you think Warface will once again become available for console play?
Different platforms, and specifically different controllers, turn any shooter into an entirely different game. The mechanics might seem similar, but a controller changes the game’s dynamic. At this point, we’re focused on PC and the growing Warface community we have on the platform. We will consider an expansion when we feel other platforms can support our vision.
Where do you see the future of Warface in the world of eSports?
I think the first step is to make sure the game fits the criteria needed for success in eSports. Firstly, you should get rid of cheaters and hackers—and we’ve done that, thanks to our partners and their systems, EasyAntiCheat and FairFight. So Warface is free of unfair players now. Secondly, you should be in good shape from a technological point of view. Our Kiev development studio has invested a huge amount of effort over the last and this year to resolve tech issues impacting the gameplay, and they’re one step away from finalizing their work. And thirdly, you should have an audience that’s interested in eSports, and we definitely have that, as some time ago our community even started to run ESL-rule-based tournaments themselves.
So basically, Warface has never been more ready to become a part of the eSports landscape than it is now. Our community has made their demand for eSports clear, and that’s why we believe we can compete even with biggest eSports shooters out there. Our players will make it huge, and our job is to support them as much as possible.