Steel City Interactive was forced to rebrand their new boxing game 2023
The best hope for a next-generation boxing game at one point was Steel City Interactive. Despite years of media hype and a marketing campaign that started relatively successfully in 2017, Undisputed boxing game hasn’t been released. They’re selling access to a a beta version of the game which is buggy, laggy, and infested with the cheater scourge already.
Now that they’ve lost their momentum, it’s a little easier to see how Steel City Interactive fumbled the bag. Here are 5 Reasons Why eSBC Undisputed failed:
They didn’t charge for the fighters
Every superstar boxer or social media influencer Steel City Interactive included in the beta version of their game for the cost of admission was a missed opportunity. They could’ve charged for each fighter, and they likely would’ve made revenue many times what they’ve made from selling access to the beta in its current state.
We’d bet most of the people willing to pay a little bit for beta access would pay a little more to use their favorite fighter; especially considering the proliferous DLC model that permeates gaming, it seems Steel City Interactive really missed a major opportunity here. They’re a small team, and even if they were fully staffed (which they almost certainly are not), they couldn’t think of everything on their first attempt. You’ve got to remember that, although they are directly competing with Fight Night developer EA Sports, Steel City Interactive have no prior experience making boxing games, whatsoever. It’s like an amateur in the ring with an undefeated legend. There’s almost no chance of an upset.
They didn’t make the game free to play.
Let’s face it; nobody’s lining up to pay for a broken, unplayable, incomplete attempt by a completely inexperienced company. At this point, Steel City Interactive probably should’ve done what EVE Online did: give their game away for free. Once people had access, it wouldn’t have mattered if the casual gameplay is terrible; a simulation, realistic, paid version could’ve be the flagship.
Instead of charging for admission to a mediocre experience and discouraging investment to stay afloat long enough to improve, Steel City Interactive could’ve been in a way better position now if they’d managed their resources more effectively earlier. Some franchises can be destroyed by such lack of foresight. For more and more customers who bought Undisputed, refunds are the only option.
They didn’t focus on gameplay but instead went all-in on marketing
It gets hard to backup promises when they’re out of touch with your capabilities. It’s a part of the reason Ryan Garcia is famous; he calls out fighters that he usually doesn’t intend to fight. This creates a bunch of buzz around the callout.
The only problem is he almost never fights the guy he promised to; Undisputed is kind of doing the same thing. The developers called this a hyper-realistic boxing simulation when they were releasing scripted game footage years ago. That created a lot of hype around the potential for a new boxing sim, which hadn’t been made since 2009.
But after they collected on the exposure such an idea got them, they took a step back. Sim boxing would be too difficult, to program and to play, using the open development tools they’re using to create Undisputed boxing game. Eventually, they realized that the audience had soured on their promises to the point that even the name e-Sports Boxing Club was becoming a toxic talking point.
After 5 years of development, it might be reasonable to assume that most of the game is finished. But the list of vacancies doesn’t inspire confidence.
They rebranded in the middle of their marketing push
Due to the constant failures to deliver on the mountain of promises they’d heaped upon their audience, backlash became common and brutal. Eventually, they had to change their name, change their product, and change their direction. Since the rebrand, efforts have shifted to almost entirely being focused on the aesthetics of the game. Gameplay is glitchy, inaccurate and unintuitive, there are cheaters almos constantly online dominating the ranked matches, and the movement in this boxing game is mostly stiff and very unrealistic.
Back when they only released scripted gameplay footage and hi-res scans only, things in the eSBC Undisputed community looked a little different.
They’re neglecting #AI
This violation of trust is the most egregious. At a time when most of society in the United States is being reconfigured to exclude workers whose mindless tasks can be replaced by artificial intelligence, Steel City Interactive have chosen to walkbalk their promises on providing realistic simulated experiences with your favorite fighters.
Besides that, the abysmal rating system linked to the skills and abilities of the fighters denotes the developers’ lack of respect to the fighters of yesterday and today. Fight fans can only hope that a system of research is enacted, instead of the current lack of a system. The stats are based on some unseen protocols, and the AI won’t have any real investment in development to make good on the promises on which Steel City Interactive has built their following.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to learn that the ratings for power, speed, etc. were linked to the personal preferences of the developers, and not to the careers and performances of the fighters, themselves. It’s almost the only way to explain the ridiculous statistical anamolies at play with the esbc Undisputed version of Rocky Marciano, or the odd lack of knockout power from Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder.
The whole game plays like something made by people who could only focus on one small detail at a time; the type of person that watches Muhammad Ali’s masterful outboxing, Shakur Stevenson’s cat-like agility and power, Steph Fulton’s brilliant boxing, or Floyd Mayweather’s invincibility – and are somehow bored. The type that calls Pernell Whitaker boring, but Vasiliy Lomachenko amazing.
Do you know the type? Let us know in the comments below.
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