Chat with Sundance DiGiovanni
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, Major League Gaming co-founder Sundance DiGiovanni will stop by to chat about his experience in the MLG.
DiGiovanni co-founded Major League Gaming with Mike Sepso in 2002, and now serves as MLG's Chief Brand Officer. With a vision to combine his lifelong passion for gaming and his deeply competitive nature, DiGiovanni helped grow and expand MLG to the masses. In addition to his management responsibilities at MLG, DiGiovanni also serves as an executive producer of MLG's gaming programming.
Send your questions now and join DiGiovanni Friday at 4 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (4:00 PM)
Sundance is here!
Jason P. (New Jersey)
MLG has come really far in the past couple years,...Where do you see it going in the near future?
Sundance DiGiovanni (4:02 PM)
The goal with MLG has always been to create a new platform of competition for guys who like video games. When we started our goal was to rival traditional stick and ball sports. We think that the success that we've had recently, while a long road, is what we had planned all along. Our goal is to become as widespread as other tradtional sports. Our goal isn't to stop, but to be on par with the NFL and NASCAR. A lot of guys play video games world wide and that's who this is for.
It is not often that a co-founder of a company would also be active in less important roles such as commentating. Why do you choose to do more then one job?
Sundance DiGiovanni (4:03 PM)
I'm a control freak, No. 1. You look at any great business and there's always personalities behind those businesses. You have to be passionate about what you're doing. When we started, there were no commentators. No one to pick from. Now we have some pros who have retired and are moving into the booth, but in the beginning, it was a necessity. It wasn't because I wanted to see myself on camera or anything. We had to do it because there was no one to hire to do it.
the MLGsus (London)
will there ever be an MLG event that takes place over seas?
Sundance DiGiovanni (4:05 PM)
I don't think there's any doubt about it. I think ti's a question of when rather than if. We've had a discussion of moving overseas, but we weren't at the size to do that successfully. We wouldn't do it prematurely, because our goal is always to do it as the best we can. I can't give a timeline, but it will be sooner rather than later. When it does happen it will be done like everything else, as big as we do anything. I'd like to go to Europe, Asia. It's in the works, but we're not going to rush it.
Shane Davis (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
If and When the Halo franchise is over. What game do you think will take over as the main game of MLG if any game does?
Sundance DiGiovanni (4:07 PM)
Halo's been an incredible game for us. We feel fortunate to have that relationship. Eventually there will be no more Halos. We've talked about that. What we're doing now, we're moving to a time to when we're not relying on any one title. We're moving to where we're involved in the game development with competitive gaming in mind. It won't be tomorrow, but it's something that has been in the works for a while. When it happens, I think everyone will be surprised by the title. It will be done in a way that our publishing partner and developing partner will be happy with the product.
Dylan Stewart (Greenville, KY)
Who do you believe has had the most impact on MLG?
Sundance DiGiovanni (4:09 PM)
I think the community. There's no one person. It's easy to point to some of the stars in the league and they've been a big part, but the fans and the folks who have stood by us. Our biggest criticizers are our community. I remembered when we first started and our members had 200 members. I could look at all the list of people. You knew everybody. Now we have 10 million people coming to our site. Everything we do comes out of that community. Some times our decisions might upset some of them, but in the end it's balancing the best interests of the community with the best interests of the business. I'm grateful for every partner we've had, but our biggest influence are the kids that play in our games in our forums. Without them, we don't exist.
Mitch (Ontario, Canada)
I think its great that MLG continues to expand into new markets (EA is huge!), but I hear lots of people trash every move the league makes. What do you have to say to people who think MLG has lost its roots?
Sundance DiGiovanni (4:12 PM)
It comes with the territory. The bigger you get the more there is to poke at, to criticize. The silent majority is happy with what goes on. You have to remind yourself of that. I've had some people come up to me and talk to me about the moves we've made and explain it. Every activity we partake in, the EA titles we expand to will open up opportunities for everyone. To work with the largest partner in the world opens up doors for us. I hear people when they say that we've lost track, but it goes back to the previous question about why I do what I do. We will never lose sight of our fans.
McFluffy (Lancaster PA)
First of Sundance. 1. What was the first game or gaming system you owned? 2. what made u start to love gaming so much to make them competitive. A lot people just buy video games for some family entertainment not thinking that it could get them anywhere in life?
Sundance DiGiovanni (4:14 PM)
I had an Atari 2600 way back as the first thing that was given to me. I played constantly. Combat, with the tanks. I just loved it. I always played games. Always had them in my life. Always had a gaming system in my room or dorm. It was always a social activity. There were never enough controllers and too many people. We had to figure out a way to cycle people off. We would run tournaments, even as a kid. We'd have graph paper with wins and losses and total score. Then we'd go outside and play baseball and talk smalk about it. I always played lots of sports and rode BMX and played games. Everything was always competitive. The first job I got was in a high school at an arcade. I had the keys so I could play as much as I wanted.
Sundance DiGiovanni (4:14 PM)
It just naturally evolved.
Ray M (Vero Beach, FL)
Nice bracket show. What do you think about the new Instinct? are you still sticking with your opinion about seeing them play first. as said in the bracket show?
Sundance DiGiovanni (4:17 PM)
I think Ghost was in the office the other day and he seems pretty pumped. I think they'll do well, but it's a question of how well they'll click in a tournament environment. Leadership is an underrated quality to our fans. There's a reason why the C is given out to captains in sports. Walshy was that guy on Instinct. The question for me is without that leadership there what will happen when they have their backs on the wall. I'm excited to see them play, but until I do, I'm not going to give them anything until they've earned. I think they are a dangerous team, a talented team, but I'll wait until I see them play as a unit.
Chase (El Cajon, California.)
I was just wondering why you guy's choose to have the events so far apart? I understand pro's need a break from constant gaming for three days and the harcore practice before the event, but isn't 2 month's or longer a little large of a gap?
Sundance DiGiovanni (4:18 PM)
Yeah. No doubt about it. The current economic climate has forced us to set it up the way it is. There aren't as many as we'd like. But we've made them bigger bang for the buck. We have it on ESPN360, there's more content coming out of each event. But you do what you can with what you have. In a very challenging economic climate, we've done as well as we can. I'm not promising anything, but we're going to try to change that in the future. I know I get antsy with 2.5 months between events. I want to get out there.
WHat is the best way for a gamer to go pro? I dont even know where to start.
Sundance DiGiovanni (4:21 PM)
It's a really good question. The websites that we have, GameBattles and MLGPro has a lot of ways to test to see if you're any good. We're very close to having a real answer next year. I can't say a lot about it, but I'll give a teaser. Staring next year, we're going to have a very clear, very clean cut way to figure out how good you are, get better if you need to and how to get recognized if you're good. If you don't know a pro, it's hard to get your name out there. Luckily, we've found an amazing partner who will work with us next year that I'm excited about that will help the gamer get their name out there and get better. It will be a minor leagues of sorts.
do you have a gamertag and if so what is it?
Sundance DiGiovanni (4:22 PM)
I do play online quite a bit. I have a secret tag that I usually use most of the time. My publically tag on XBox it's MLG Sundance on PS3 it's SundanceD. Depending on the game, I can usually hold my own. I'm not going to lie, sometimes I just try to lurk in the back with the guys who are far better than me.
Joey Lee (Stockton, California)
Do you plan to put more games, say like fighting games like Brawl into the Pro circuit sometime in the future?
Sundance DiGiovanni (4:24 PM)
I'd love to have fighting games represented. Now we've got sports and shooters covered. There are a couple of questions around it - is the audience there? Brawl is a good example. If I could I would like to get a fighter out there for next year. I'm looking to get more diversity in our lineup. I think fighters is a big lineup and a lot of energy. There's an opportunity for it. YEs, I'd like to get into fighters. No, we won't let it get diluted by taking too many. We're going to try and push for some fighters or a fighter back on to the circuit.
Sundance DiGiovanni (4:25 PM)
I want to thank everybody. It's been an incredible experience being a part of MLG. It's been a really amazing ride. Without the community, none of this happens. Thank you to everyone who's followed us, believed in us. My goal is to give everyone a good show. With your continued support, we'll do more and more. A big shoutout Leo, Saja, my two biggest fans.