Last week, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to play the Nintendo Switch early in Birmingham. There were a nice selection of games on offer, from Zelda (which was stellar, by the way), to Mario Kart, to the upcoming Splatoon 2. The game won’t be a launch title for the Switch, instead coming out a few months after the console finally hits, but it’s in a perfectly playable state right now.
The original Splatoon was a nice balance between fun and competitiveness, and it seems that the groundwork to making the game into something like an Esport was certainly set. Towards the end of last year, Battlefy set up their own ‘Splatoon Showdown’ a series in which players could compete against each other for varying prize pools; not quite making into a big-time Esport like LoL or CS:GO, but its certainly a step.
At the end of the very first reveal trailer for the Switch, Splatoon shown being played on the console in an arena in front of a crowd, implying that Nintendo would like to push the Esports scene for the game, and that it would appear in some form or another on the new console. Now, a few weeks before the Switch will hit shelves, we know that Splatoon 2 is coming – but will it succeed as an Esport?
The audience for Splatoon is certainly big enough for a dedicated Esports scene to grow, and if the Switch sells any better than the WiiU did, then its certainly possible that a fanbase will begin to form. At its core, Splatoon is simple enough to follow – two teams compete to cover the map with more of their own colour – meaning it’s not limited only to people with knowledge of the game, like other Esports like Overwatch or League of Legends might be, and the rules are relatively easy to pick up for someone who knows little about the game.
The next thing you’d need to worry about is the competitiveness of the game itself. When I played it last week, I found myself with a wide choice of weaponry that gives me a number of different play-styles to choose from – these end up acting as roles for the player to pick, so that they can focus on a specific way to play. This is one of the key ways to make a game competitive and, by proxy, fun to watch. Conventional sports do this too; in Football, you’ve got defenders, midfielders, and strikers, which mainly focus on defence, support, and offence.
Splatoon 2 certainly has the groundwork laid out to become the next big esport, being released on a brand new current-gen console, and with the presumed backing of one of the biggest games companies of them all, Nintendo, we may very well see it become as huge as the likes of Overwatch or even the giants like League of Legends.