Certain eSports are easier to watch than others, but what unites the games that have enjoyed any heydays in the eSports world is the Top-down perspective. Earlier this decade, it was Starcraft II, which, of course, gave way to wildly popular MOBAs such as Dota 2 and League of Legends dominating the eSports scene. All the while, though, first-person shooters have taken second banana. While this may still be the case for some time, Call of Duty: WWII has just taken a huge step toward making their game more viewer-friendly.
Aptly called the "SkyCam," this new feature allows the commentators to seamlessly shift in and out of the normal, first-person perspective that offers only one player's point of view, to a top-down perspective that offers a wide view of a large portion of the battlefield. You can see how it works in the clip below:
This fixes an awful lot of problems with the framework of watching first-person-shooter games. By its very nature, a first-person-shooter isn't really a spectator sport because it's so easy to get confused as to what is happening in the bigger picture. Even with the vast complexity of MOBA games, you can at least tell from a top-down perspective what's generally happening. Three heroes chasing down one low-health enemy only to run into the whole other team and die themselves. Maybe one hero lands a huge team fight ultimate ability on three-four of the enemy heroes. Even if you don't know the specifics, it's easy to watch and a spectacle to behold.
We've seen it time and time again where first-person shooters struggle to take off, and their status as a poor spectator sport might have a lot to do with that. For instance, Overwatch, one of the world's most popular games at the moment, gathering 30 million players in a year. That said, it's biggest eSport events struggle to reach even a small percentage of that playerbase. At one point during this year's Winter Premiere Event, people streaming Overwatch on Twitch had more viewers than the professionals playing it for money.
The SkyCam on display for Call of Duty: WWII gives viewers enough context to see who they're looking at and why. Their position on the map makes all the difference, and you can see where everyone is coming from around him and backing him up. The SkyCam is also much more detailed than just a mini-map, offering viewers a detailed look at the exact layout of any given stage, being able to easily identify strategic weaknesses.
Even Counter-Strike: Global Offensive could benefit from something like this. Sure, CS:GO isn't as hard to follow as shooters like Call of Duty. CS:GO is mostly devoid of frills and its core gamemode favors tight, precise skirmishes rather than the chaotic, death-from-everywhere style used by CoD, but that doesn't mean top-down perspective couldn't help. In fact, I'd bet on this SkyCam catching on for other shooters before too long. It seems like too big of an innovation for just one step