You might look at mobile games and think of them as just something to pass the time while you’re bored on the train or in a waiting room. But what if one of those games became more than casual? Something competitive? Even become a full fledged esport?
It might sound silly; a game you can simply play on your smartphone becoming competitive but esports is constantly evolving. Vainglory is proof of that evolution, and has become the flagship for competitive mobile esports.
We first saw Vainglory at the Apple iPhone6 announcement in September 2014 as it was used to demonstrate the new Apple graphics system. It was later released in November and in 2015 developers Super Evil Megacorp held the first World Invitational in South Korea with a prize pool of around $27,000 (£22,251).
Only a year later competitive Vainglory progressed to a $120,000 (£98,895) prize pool at the 2016 World Championship. Professional teams including the likes of EchoFox, Misfits, NRG, Fnatic and many more have been signing Vainglory teams just in the few months of 2017.
Vainglory isn’t the only mobile game to attempt to dip into esports but it has obviously had the most success. This begs the question, what makes it so special? Why is Vainglory now the flagship game for mobile esports?
Obviously the first major differentiation is the fact that it is played 100% on touch screen with either a smartphone or tablet.
Roamer for Team SoloMid, Michael ‘FlashX’ Valore told us in an earlier interview that the feel of using your fingers instead of a mouse and keyboard are totally different: “I think Super Evil Megacorp really did a good job ensuring that Vainglory is incredibly responsive. It was a hard transition at first but after just a few games I started to really get the hang of it.”
Roamer for European Team Misfits, Alexander “Eeko” Mier added that the graphics are a main reason of the games success: “Vainglory’s gameplay is extremely fluid and has all the components you want in a MOBA. The first time I played Vainglory, I was addicted.”
When you think of mobile games on a larger scale, just about everyone in the world has a smartphone nowadays. That means billions of devices while not everyone has a PC or even laptop capable of playing the latest popular MOBAs. A smartphone or tablet in each hand makes it easier for everyone to also get their hands on Vainglory.
FlashX told us about a teammate of his playing in a qualifying game in the airport: “I had a teammate back in October 2015 who was standing in line to board a plane play a competitive game that qualified us to attend Season 2 of the Vainglory International Premier League (VIPL) to which we went on to win and shortly after be signed by TSM. Had Vainglory been a PC based game that never would have been possible and I would not be living my dream job as a professional gamer today.“
In researching Vainglory esports there was one common factor: SEMC cares about their community.
Caster Shaun ‘FourCourtJester’ Delaney explained that the developers routinely hold forums to get feedback from their players and community: “The developers themselves play countless hours per week and hold regular streams on top of it all in order to ensure communication with the community. When something is absolutely broken it doesn’t take multiple patches to get addressed.”
This is dedication you don’t see from all game developers, even larger ones. When an issue is addressed, it is fixed, proving that SEMC wants to contain the very best game quality they can along with adhering to the fans.
It’s refreshing to see this type of diversity coming to esports with the likes of mobile gaming. Esports continues to evolve and hearing how much Super Evil Megacorp cares about their community is no doubt a major factor in why Vainglory has become such a success.