Discussion – It’s an important part of who geeks are. We like to sit around and talk about who is better, Kirk or Picard. We like to talk about why Minecraft is so amazing and we like to talk about the implications of paying for mods in games. We like to open up a lot of discussions, through a medium of a good, strong opinion and then to invite others to either share in our opinions, or to give a conflicting view on a topic. Today’s topic needs little introduction, as we’re going to talk about the very nature of what makes a good ‘meta’ in a video game and what they’re there for. Plus, we’ll look at the negatives of the meta, then open up to everyone for a discussion.
Like it or not, MOBAs are huge business. League of Legends, one of the largest games on the market today, is synonymous with the term eSport. For those who are unfamiliar, an eSport is exactly like it sounds – a game that is played like a sport. It’s where professional gamers end up and boy oh boy, is the market big? In League of Legends main event alone last year, the LoL 2016 World Championship, over $5,000,000 was paid out. Take that figure in for a second – Over five million dollars. Some ten years ago, that kind of money was unthinkable, as games such as Counter Strike: Source were paying out just under half a million dollars. So the jump in the past ten years has increased, well, tenfold. This is great news for the industry, as it means there’s more money to go around and keep people wanting to be competitive, just like in physical sports.
What’s curious is with the rise of DOTA 2 and games such as Overwatch* coming onto the market, the money for each game has seriously gone up. Gone are the days where you could expect to win ten thousand pounds and feel like gods gift to the Earth: Now you were talking about potentially millions coming in for your team. DOTA2 topped last years biggest single payout, paying out over twenty million dollars. Therefore, knowing your game inside and out is not only critical, but it’s actually what makes you an A player from a B+ player. There’s nothing wrong with being second best, but with this kind of money on the line and serious investments and sponsorships being made, there’s no wonder that the meta in a game will have to change from time to time. The same could be said for older games too, such as the Unreal Tournament franchise (which has got a new title on the way, but it’s currently just in Alpha. I’ll give you a review of the Alpha in the coming weeks).
Now, call me old fashioned, but when I played games like Unreal Tournament, or Tekken, I used to lurk on a lot of forums. Turns out, that’s not such a bad idea, even in this day and age. Information about the latest patches, or to new characters, are always published to a games forum. So if you’re a League of Legends pro, or if you’re a newbie looking to learn about what’s happening in your game, you might want to jump onto your games forums. Furthermore, streamers have taken to getting into the patches of games before everyone else. This is good publicity for the developers, the game and of course the streamers – But it’s also valuable information for anyone curious about the meta in games.
I recently have taken a liking to Paragon, which is a visually gorgeous game. But I’m not good. I know I’m not good. Heck, I’m not even good at Awesomenauts. MOBAs probably aren’t my thing, but I certainly love the idea behind them. Just before writing this article, I played a game, as my ‘main hero’ – Steel – and you know what? Having read a few articles on the character and what people often do wrong, I suddenly was doing a lot better. No more feeding, no more losing team fights, I was a vital part to the team and I was proud to be so. I ended up getting 3 tower solo kills, but whenever I saw a team fight happening, I jumped into the same lane as my team and assisted with the fight. But, more importantly, I read what the actual meta of the game was at this moment of time and I felt… Heavily disappointed.
See, I love complexity. I love something where there’s a challenge, but nothing too great. I want enough of a challenge to validate my purpose for being in the area, I wanted nothing more… Than to play a game, where others could see how good I was. So what was the meta of Paragon which got me so deeply disappointed? They called it “Grouping”. 3-4 people jump into a lane and push the lane as fast as possible, whilst 1 other held off others. Playing as Steel, I was durable and good at giving the enemy carry grief. I was good at stunning them, pushing them around, sponging up the damage – Basically, I wasn’t going to go down, but I wasn’t going to get kills either. So I held my lane, whilst the group took care of everything else.
There’s nothing wrong with reading into games, there’s nothing wrong with learning what a winning strategy is… But the meta itself should be reasonable and fun. I don’t consider grouping up quickly and just taking out everything and hoping for the best is fun. The game itself is a lot of fun, so I switch off and just play the game and have a blast. But I must ask what you think of this strategy – but more importantly, what games do you play where meta plays such a vital part? Do you play MOBAs yourself, or do you play fighting games, where knowing what characters belong in which tiers is what helps you win? Do you like to research what beats what, or do you just go in for the fun of the game itself? Thanks for reading everyone – Leave us a comment below, or over on Facebook, Reddit and Twitter. Is meta, knowledge of patches and updates, sharing of information of what’s a good way purely to win, a good thing in competitive games – Other than just winning?
* I put an asterix here, because can you guess how much Overwatch paid out in it’s first year? $300,000. Imagine what it’ll be this year with Blizzard behind them?… Well presumably, nowhere near the levels of League of Legends and DOTA 2, as even Hearthstone ‘only’ paid out $1,000,000.