Method Owners Concerned About Growing Commercialization of World of Warcraft Raid Race

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This week’s upcoming raid, Race to World First in World of Warcraft Database-Link-e1521645463907, presents a number of firsts for the raiding scene in Blizzard Entertainment’s Database-Link-e1521645463907 massively multiplayer online video game. 

But perhaps the most significant new element to the scene is the fact that numerous top guilds will be broadcasting. In the past, esports organization Method Database-Link-e1521645463907 has streamed world first efforts with massive success in terms of viewership, and now other guilds are looking to capitalize on the market for the race as a commercial event. 

(Note: for more details on how the Race to World First works, click here.)

The expansion of the race as a commercial entity doesn’t come without its complications, though. For about 14 years, raid races have taken place every time Blizzard releases a new WoW raiding instance, and each time, the race is an organic, grassroots event driven by the community of players who participate in it.

While Method looked to revolutionize that when it began streaming its part in the race starting last year, the group’s owner and co-founder Scott “Sco” McMillan saw a potential conflict with the future of the race if it continues to become more and more commercialized. 

Related Article: World of Warcraft Raid Race Turns into Race for Viewers on Twitch

Posting in a TwitLonger, McMillan said that he was disappointed that his guild couldn’t work out a deal with Red Bull Database-Link-e1521645463907 for the upcoming raid race, and expressed concern that Red Bull was potentially taking a path of trying to take “ownership” of it.

“We are afraid that there might be a third-party entity that gains control over this competition, which we see as potentially dangerous for the future.”

The idea that a third-party organizer could swoop in and take a monopoly on the commercialization of a previously community-driven event seems like a stretch on the surface, but McMillan and Method co-owner Sascha Steffens have theorized that the possibility could be more realistic than one might initially believe. 

Due to Red Bull’s prominence as a brand, Steffens and Method are concerned that the company could find a way to get a license from Blizzard allowing them the right to broadcast people’s efforts during the raid race. Such an agreement could prevent other organizations like Method from putting together their own coverage of such events. 

“We are afraid that there might be a third-party entity that gains control over this competition, which we see as potentially dangerous for the future,” Steffens said. “Of course this is an accusation, it doesn’t necessarily have to be dangerous, but if you think about how a for-profit company operates, it’s really hard to imagine that they would have the interest of the guilds or the community in mind. There’s no reason why they would.”

Over the course of negotiations for broadcasting during the upcoming raid race, McMillan and Steffens were fearful of a third party making a monopoly out of the raid race and potentially keeping profits from the players that are involved in the event who have previously never profited from the commercialization of such an event.

“Allowing a third-party corporation to take ownership of the Race to World First is conflicting with the interests of the guilds who compete in the race,” McMillan said in a statement. “The goal of the third party corporation is to promote their own brand as much as possible (less incentive to bring on other sponsors as it dilutes their brand exposure), run the event at the lowest cost possible, while also owning the run of show and all other aspects (branding, marketing, event sales etc) surrounding the show which severely limits the guilds oversight and return from the event.”

method raide race team

Credit: Method

“The guilds become powerless and restricted in terms of the event itself, the exposure they get, the revenue generated from the event, and other elements. All of this has a direct impact on how the long term raiding scene develops from here on out.”

This isn’t to say that Method’s executives believe having any third-party involvement is a bad thing. This raid race, which will include live coverage from Red Bull featuring a few top guilds in Limit and Pieces, has a third-party that has agreed to terms with a selection of teams. 

Related Article: Red Bull Unveils Broadcast Plans for World of Warcraft Raid Race

Guilds making a decision to work with Red Bull for a broadcast isn’t what Method’s executives are fearful of. Steffens said that he believes that guilds “electing” to work with a third-party to coordinate and produce coverage of the raid race is a positive step for the growth of the race. 

“The important distinction here is that this third-party shouldn’t be the owner,” he said. “Our principal thought is that the owners of the race to world first can only be Blizzard and the competitors in it.”

Along with some guilds choosing to work with Red Bull, some groups decided to team with Method to grow broadcast coverage of the raid race this time around, and Steffens said that most of the discussions Method had with guilds about the broadcast were about the big picture.

“In the end, if we have an event that is not done by the community, then we don’t know if it will be good or bad for the community.”

“The conversations that we had with other guilds were mostly about the broad concept of the guilds working together to produce this race to world first broadcast,” Steffens said. “The general idea of that is something everyone sees positively. It comes down to the details, obviously. We had mixed reception there.

“Some guilds were immediately on board with it. Other guilds had a lot of questions. I’m confident that in the end, we will figure something out that everyone is happy with.”

Top North American guild Limit, which will be broadcasting through Red Bull, declined to comment on its raid race dealings until after the competition is complete. Red Bull also did not provide comment outside of its press release announcing its broadcast plans.

While this raid race won’t have all of its competitors broadcast from one location, the overall goal of growing the race as a commercial opportunity for guilds is certainly taking its course. 

Though McMillan and Steffens have shown a concern that a potentially damaging situation could present itself, such an occurrence is not what is currently happening with Red Bull’s production of Limit and Pieces. 

“In the end, if we have an event that is not done by the community, then we don’t know if it will be good or bad for the community,” Steffens said. “If it’s run by the community, then we of course have our interests in mind. That’s the goal: keeping the community empowered.”


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