Even with the rise of eSports in modern pop culture, VR is currently one of the less popular platforms for the eSports community. Some say it’s because there isn’t enough content in VR yet, and others say the problem is inherent to VR lacking a true global fanbase.
What might be most true instead is that VR simply hasn’t gotten as great as providing viewers a brutally athletic “sports” experience that draws in real sports fans. That, and most eSports fans simply aren’t aware of VR yet.
Ever since I began playing boxing games in VR, I thought about what it might be like if they could be played like real competitive sports.
While I mostly played The Thrill of the Fight during my first rounds in VR, I knew I wanted something like it that I could play with and against other people. Eventually, I got my wish with Creed: Rise to Glory, which is a full-featured boxing game from Survios that includes a full career path and even a PVP mode that lets you play against others online.
For all intents and purposes, that PVP mode means that Creed: Rise to Glory is currently the strongest (and likeliest) contender in VR boxing titles to eventually make its way over to the VR Challenger League (or even the VR Master League).
However, it isn’t quite as put-together as it would need to be as a professional VR eSport. There are some things that Survios still needs to do (and we’re rooting for them!) before Creed: Rise to Glory is ready for primetime.
In order for Creed: Rise to Glory to contend as a functioning eSport, it needs to give players a set of numerical scores that are stored on a server base or at least in some kind of file. These scores can be anything from wins, to total number of knockouts per round, to average time to knockout, or anything else that players can track and use to record their stats outside of the game.
Data tracking is also important because it gives casters — people who stream gameplay footage out to a live audience — a visual way to document and record precisely who won, and to store that data in online records where users can publicly view how well a given player or team is doing.
Private Match Lobbies
Currently, Creed: Rise to Glory does not let you join specific lobbies. You can matchmake, which places you into a random room with a random person across the Internet. But that isn’t the same as hosting a competitive match with elements such as a spectator mode for people who are tasked with casting gameplay out to public audiences.
It’s also inconvenient to find other players for competitive matches if you’re jury-rigging competitive matches by adding one another to your friends’ list rather than finding a specified room that has a private door code. If Creed: Rise to Glory wants to be taken seriously as a VR Challenger League or VR Master League featured game.
A spectator mode would allow non-fighters to join lobbies and watch other people fight one another. It’d be tied into the lobbies, which would also give seated players the ability to take turns boxing one another. But the reason a spectator mode would be particularly important is, as mentioned before, because games need room for casters to come in and stream live game footage off to the Internet. Or at live events.
In order for casters to make Creed: Rise to Glory look fantastic, it needs a set of caster tools including FOV (field-of-view) adjustment, a stream mixer with cameras at various angles, as well as the ability to push metadata such as score, player status, and team information out to a mirror render.
Using Overwatch as an example, this is the quality of information that viewers should have during each match:
The more tools that casters have, the stronger the play-by-play they can generate, resulting in a more insightful community that really cares about and studies how Creed is played as a sport.
This piece is key for showing Creed to the larger eSports and athletic community as well, who will respect how intense the game can be. Who’d have thought that a boxing game might be so strategic?
Currently, Creed: Rise to Glory suffers from laggy matchmaking and visual glitches that make its PVP gameplay feel janky at moments that should absolutely feel visceral and fluid. There have been times while playing Creed that my punches slowed down and sped up as my opponent stopped taking blows and jittered back and forth in front of me like a person who’s unsure what plane of existence they’re currently in.
Professional players couldn’t fight in circumstances like this, and entire matches might be thrown by connectivity issues that give favor to one player over the other.
Granted, my connectivity issues might also be tied to matchmaking with players who are too far away from me. But that’s an issue that should be solved with private lobbies and regional cups.
I seriously, seriously want to see a boxing game enter the VR eSports arena. Creed: Rise to Glory is already a fantastic game that provides a great workout and has the potential to show the world how athletic VR can be.
That said, it’s missing some key things right now that could make my dream come true.
It’d be great for the VR community, especially the VR fitness community, to have something like this to rally around and share with the VR League and the broader ESL universe surrounding it.
Do you think Creed: Rise to Glory deserves a shot in eSports? Let us know in the comments!