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ESBC Is Not Backing Down

ESBC and Steel City Interactive released their first in-game footage of cover athlete, Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez on Friday, May 6th, 2022. WBA Champion Dmitry Bivol, who dominated Canelo on Saturday night, is also featured in the video.

The footage features the fighter entrance and walk-up for both boxers. The clip is significant not because of its visuals. We know ESBC is going to look incredible. No, it is important because this tells us that Steel City Interactive has confidence in its game, its development cycle progression, and maybe even its gameplay.

ESBC’s Recent History

ESBC has been in development for at least two years, after first being teased in Fall 2020. The studio has periodically released updates and occasionally has gone dark for months, leading to speculation if SCI will complete the game. SCI was searching for new gameplay development programmers as recently as last Fall 2021, and many fight fans were concerned. Now, almost one full year after the bold announcement of Canelo to be the coveted cover athlete, we have in-game footage of Saúl Álvarez, or as ESPN once dubbed him, the Great Red Hope. It does not disappoint.

ESBC 2022 Canelo

Perhaps channeling Canelo’s persona and ambition to take on boxing greats, SCI is going for it all, developing a AAA title in its first studio launch. SCI is taking on immense risk, pouring sweat and real equity into a niche sports title. The best numbers EA’s Fight Night ever posted might not be enough to keep the lights on at SCI.

And this is why the video is powerful.

It tells me that SCI’s game is gaining momentum and preparing to take on industry giants. Sure, the video takes timely advantage of the hype around the Canelo v. Bivol fight. But it’s more than that, especially in light of recent speculation of a Fight Night revival. SCI is flexing, demonstrating confidence in its teams and in-house intellectual property. The footage also leads me to believe that the studio’s assets can be leveraged for future sports gaming titles. Reusable assets will be critical for SCI’s success in developing forthcoming titles.

ESBC Technology

On the point of technology in ESBC, we do not know is what environment this game was created in. Is this Unreal Engine 5? Is the game built in Unity, or is it 100 percent developed from the ground up, in-house? Time will tell as more details emerge around the game. If SCI is world-building fight universes from zero, the game will be more impressive. Once we understand what engine(s) ESBC is running on, we will be able to draw some more comparisons outside of the Fight Night analogies.

From our SGO exclusive, we know that Ten 24 Studios is a third-party capturing the imaging data for player model development. SCI and Ten 24 have a data pipeline that translates the captured images and helps SCI’s graphic artists render life-like models for ESBC’s programming environment — useful for future realistic sports titles. Not to mention the motion capture work that has gone into this title, the locomotion engine that ties the animation libraries together, and the digital artifacts rendered by its artists.

Just as ESPN tagged Canelo as the Great Red Hope for his nation, SCI is our best chance in a startup indie studio to bring serious competition to the sports gaming genre.

Much like Canelo’s meditative, stoic ring walk to take on a champion, SCI is closing in on its opponents, too — AAA studios and, most importantly, the expectations they set for themselves.

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