End of World Cyber Games. Gamers here say it's been losing steam
It's "Game Over" for one of the world's largest gaming competitions, the World Cyber Games (WCG).
But Singaporean gamers are not too bothered because the annual competition, one of the oldest in the cyber world, had lost much of its lustre with professional gamers.
Gaming site OnGamers reported earlier this month that WCG CEO Brad Lee had told its partners in an e-mail that WCG will no longer organise tournaments and events, including the WCG finals.
While the reason behind WCG's decision is still unclear, there is speculation that low profits could have been a factor.
The WCG was started in 2000 by a South Korean company, with Samsung and Microsoft among its sponsors.
It operates like the Olympic Games, with each country conducting its own qualifying rounds before sending its top players to compete in a host nation.
Gold, silver and bronze medals are given to the top three players in popular online games such as StarCraft, League of Legends, Street Fighter and Fifa.
Last year, the competition was held in Kunshan, China, and offered US$306,000 (S$388,000) in prize money, a huge drop from the US$500,000 offered in 2009.
The event attracted 500 participants from 40 countries. At its peak in 2008, 800 players from 78 countries took part.
Singapore hosted the WCG finals in 2005.
Mr Wilson Chia, 33, who won a silver medal for Singapore that year playing the fighting game Dead Or Alive, said the WCG had been in decline for the last few years.
"The number of participating countries and players stopped growing and eventually started shrinking," he said.
Mr Chia, whose in-game name is Tetra, last took part in the WCG in 2009, playing Virtua Fighter 5.
"I stopped attending because I didn't like the games included in the recent WCGs," he told The New Paper.
Another Singaporean professional gamer, Mr Thomas Kopankiewicz (in-game name Blysk) agreed that WCG's presence had been fading.
Said the StarCraft II player: "These days, we have different tournaments for different games that players aim for. So ultimately, WCG has become 'just another tournament'."
His manager, Mr Terence Ting, founder of the Singapore gaming team Flash eSports, said: "While WCG started it all for many of us, there are other major global tournaments for different games right now, like the World Championship Series for StarCraft II and The International for Dota 2."
Despite this, Mr Kopankiewicz hopes the WCG name will not disappear. He said: "I thank WCG for all it has done for the gaming scene, and hope that a new organisation can buy over the WCG branding and once again establish it as the Olympics of e-sports."
Mr Camillus Chia, 23, who made the quarter-finals in the Asian open category of WCG in 2008 playing Dota, a strategy game, also felt WCG's demise was a shame.
"It's a lost opportunity for gamers to interact with others of different nationalities on the world stage," he said.