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WWE 2K18's New Mode a Step on the Road to eSports?

eSports has truly taken the world by storm, with players and teams in various game genres taking on the roles of modern day celebrities and superstars to their fans, who not only tune in to watch them play in the millions - thanks to broadcasting services like YouTube and Twitch.TV - but also regularly sell out stadiums to watch their heroes perform live, and bet huge amounts of money through both eSports betting and online sports sites such as OnlineGambling.com.

For these reasons, it comes as a surprise to many WWE 2K fans that the game, which is at its heart a virtual representation of one of the world’s most popular sports-entertainments, has yet to include an eSports aspect. However, this could be set to change as this year’s release, WWE 2K18, includes an all new online game mode which looks to be laying the groundwork for a potential upcoming eSports-focused mode.

The new online competitive mode, called “Road to Glory”, is a brand-new addition to the series that sees players pitted against one another in daily matches to obtain various rewards. The ultimate goal of the mode at the moment is to allow players to earn stars that they will use to participate in pay-per-view events (which are set to coincide with real-life PPV events). The mode uses characters that have been built up through the new MyPLAYER system.

The MyPLAYER system is a focused progression system which allows players to fully customise and upgrade their own fighters for use in the single player and multiplayer modes. The ability to fully customise a character, from their basic appearance all the way down to fighting style, skills and abilities and more, could be especially helpful should WWE choose to go down the road to eSports support where a player’s skill at building a balanced fighter could be one of the aspects used to judge their overall mastery of the game.

Back to the online mode itself, at present, players can choose to compete in a variety of daily match types in order to gain stars, boosts, Superstar parts and VC. By progressing through these challenges, players can further customise their characters to build an even stronger fighter for matches to come. These daily events include online battles against other MyPLAYER opponents which are determined through in-game match-making systems. It wouldn’t be such a stretch to imagine that this system could be the groundwork of what could be match-making for an eSports focused league.

When asked about the potential for WWE 2K as an eSport during production of WWE 2K18, executive producer Mark Little had this to say: “It’s something that’s been talked about, I don’t know if it’s in our near future. One of the challenging things we had to debate on dealing with that in our game is our game isn’t designed by default to make winning the most important thing. Because of that, we have designed it in a very specific way to make entertainment and having a good match the most important thing.

Could MyPLAYER and “Road to Glory” be the first indications of WWE testing out the systems that would need to be implemented in order to make WWE 2K into the eSports phenomenon that its fans want it to be? Only time will tell.

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