The most recent Battle.net release allows for the greatest level of observer interface customization we’ve seen yet. With this new found power, tournaments organizers and streamers may be tempted to pack in game data and advertising, but if television is any indication, this would be the wrong course of action.
As always, e-sports can look to established broadcasting methods for a simple benchmark for what works and what doesn’t. So with graphics, overlays and interfaces in mind, let’s take a look at how StarCraft 2 and League of Legends compares to televised sports and competition.
One thing immediately becomes obvious – Blizzard and Riot created their user-interfaces to be practical and useful, dense with information and functionality.
But at what expense?
If we evaluate just how much screen space is dedicated to redundant data and bloated art, we find that both Starcraft 2 and League of Legends sacrifice about one-third of the screen which could be better used to show the game itself.
How much of the broadcast is just graphics?
The screenshots above are from MLG’s Winter Championships just last weekend, but it is the same situation with all major showcases.
Now compare what’s above to how some football, soccer, basketball and poker broadcasts elect to display their content and supplementing graphics. Plainly put, the area reserved for graphics on television is drastically smaller than what we see in e-sports.
We immediately see a common theme – a minimalistic approach which favors highlighting the action itself. Only the most significant info is shown and everything else is communicated verbally by the commentators or with temporary graphics.
The equivalent for e-sports’ two biggest titles would see the observer UI reduced to nothing but the minimap, the series score and the game score – for StarCraft that would be supply count, income and perhaps units lost, and for League, just total gold, kill count and objective counts.
This would mean considerably less glanceable stats but consider also that too much information is overwhelming. It can scare off and distract new audiences, and ultimately, raw entertainment value is what will help draw in viewers and help them open their wallets.