There can be benefits as well as problems with merging federations. On the one hand, having larger and deeper federations provides more competition and keeps the various and numerous tiers of the federations more compact in terms of the talent gap between the top and the bottom. It also gives more scope for specialised competitions, a larger community and more chance of catching someone from your fed online at the same time as you. On the other hand, it can take some of the soul away from smaller federations which, although small, often have their own unique character, a hardcore of devoted fans and a sense of belonging that monolithic fed just cannot provide.
So. Which way to go?
Personally, I think the future of FML would be helped by having fewer federations (say 5 or 6 at most), but with much deeper structures. This would provide more layers, allowing for much closer league competition and giving far more sense of progression. Moving from Division 4 to Division 1, for example, shows how the team is progressing and allows the user to cut his/her cloth to suit the changing conditions. If each federation had at least 90-100 sides, this would provide a lot of potential for niche cup competitions, competative leagues and a more active community.
However, it’s still sad to see the “little” FAs go. Many have their own hardcore users who feel more attached to the smaller federations than the more faceless larger ones. This is human nature, I suppose, but I was proud of the community in the Premier League of the WCA. Albeit, it was a small community and one that ultimately could not be sustained. When you have 40 members, 20 of whom are inactive, relegation from the Premier League means almost certain death in the pool of AI rights, little prize money and terrible competition.
How can we get the best of both worlds? I think these deeper FAs are necessary, but they do not have to be evil. Bigger federations, like I alluded to, can provide bigger opportunities for niche competitions. There is nothing to stop the WCA Cup surviving in a bigger Super Casual Association. Just invite anyone who wants to play at weekends. In fact, if the demand was there you could keep the league structure – with a Super Casual Premier Division, whilst the lower tiers could be split both on ability and play times.
With the amount of gameworlds on startup in 1.0 and 1.1 gameworlds as it stands, some will simply not be able to reach quorum. The Primetime Association in Fowler, for example, had just 4 members willing to join it in the first pre-season, leading to it never actually running. Some will start well, but be forced to merge. This is sad, and can take away some of the character from the gameworld, but in the long run I wouldn’t see it as the end of the world. With the right leadership, larger FAs can have the best of both worlds – a deep and rich community with little spin offs within it which add further character that would be impossible in isolated and small federations.
At least, that’s how I like to look at things. Always look on the bright side of life, and all that.
|Written By Gareth Millward
"Millie" is a long-standing member of the FM community and a co-founder of Gameworld One.Com. As part of FM-Britain, he was a contributor to TT&F and involved with the new tactical interface in FM2010.