eSports Boxing Club is set to be the first simulation boxing title in over a decade. The game continues its development at Steel City Interactive studio, in the United Kingdom. Per ESBC’s website, SCI is planning to release the title on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series S/X Consoles, alongside a PC release on Steam. No release date is confirmed at this time and I speculate on an anticipated release date, below.
ESBC quickly won the hearts of the global sports gaming community when it began dropping gameplay videos and screenshots of its realistic boxing game in Spring ‘21. The hype peaked with the announcement of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez as the cover athlete for ESBC.
SGO has been covering ESBC from day one. Here are our latest articles and previews:
ESBC Anticipated Release Date
Since the announcement that Canelo will grace the cover, the indie studio slowed down the number of gameplay previews it has released. The development cycle appears to have been delayed. I suspect a few reasons for this, namely COVID-19 and funding. The two go hand-in-hand.
First, we have to expect that the resurgence of COVID-19 this winter is complicating SCI’s targeted timelines. SCI and partner Ten 24 Studio likely have to fly in the 250 boxers on its roster from all over the world for face and body scans – no small feat. Each country has specific quarantine requirements and flying restrictions. For example, some countries have imposed a temporary travel ban on a number of nations where the Omicron variant has been most prevalent. Delays are expected. Let’s keep in mind that behemoth Microsoft delayed its flagship game, Halo Infinite, one full year during the COVID-era.
Secondly, funding can be a challenge for a small studio without a proven revenue stream. This is especially difficult when a project takes longer to finish than anticipated. More time equals more costs. Moreover, SCI recently made changes to its dev. team, per its official Twitter account. In light of all of the aforementioned factors, I anticipate a late 2022 release date for eSports Boxing Club.
I admit, from my perspective, anytime a studio replaces its lead gameplay designer and senior designers mid-project, it is concerning. And the hype surrounding Canelo as the cover athlete, the game’s graphics, and Todd Grisham’s charismatic energy has elevated ESBC to mythical, CyberPunk 2077 levels. In its defense, ESBC has demonstrated a tactfully rendered gameplay engine and beautiful graphics engines to date. SCI is taking its time, and this is a great sign that quality is leading the development track.
ESBC Technology Preview
SCI did drop some news in our exclusive preview earlier this month. The game will feature an advanced VFX damage system. This brings up the question, what technology will the game feature, and more importantly, what features and technology would you like to see be implemented?
Velocity Movement – The ESBC Animation Engine
As for the technology that is confirmed in ESBC, I am looking forward to the locomotion and lighting technology.
ESBC showcases what is being called Velocity movement & momentum. According to ESBC art director Andy Turner, the footwork flow is 100% motion captured and processed in real-time, or “performance-based.” In my opinion, locomotion is the foundation of any sports title, and ESBC is on an excellent track. ESBC’s engine can transition between movements fast and fluid, and SCI has hinted at organic animation branching at work – a departure from traditional animation “stitching.”
Next, the graphics and lighting challenge Unreal Engine 5. Real-time light reflections and illumination are a staple of ray-tracing graphics technology and ESBC appears to be taking full advantage. We can anticipate ray-tracing will be implemented for the next-gen builds of ESBC on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, and PC.
For realism, I would love to see ESBC take fighter emotion to another level. Boxing is built on emotion and willpower. How the game conveys these emotions can create evocative gameplay experiences. SCI confirmed with SGO that Ten 24 does face and body scans for the game, but various facial expressions were not being scanned in. Instead, SCI’s artists are rendering different facial expressions for fighters. I do think this is a missed opportunity by SCI to have Ten 24 capture raw emotion, but doing so would likely require more funding. Alternatively, SCI’s artists have already proven themselves up for the challenge.
Moreover, fighter vocals would add the realism and emotion of the fight. It is unconfirmed what kind of audio technology is being implemented for ESCB, but signature vocals by the fighters on its roster represent an opportunity for ESBC to step out from the shadow of Fight Night Champion.
ESBC Wishlist on PlayStation 5
Next, I would implement Sony’s exclusive, yet speculative, Dynamic Emotion Music System for ESBC. The PlayStation 5 console reportedly includes technology that can incorporate a player’s actions or your fighter’s emotions as inputs for “procedurally generated soundtracks” in games. Hence, why capturing realistic facial expressions is important.
How would this technology work? One example we can use is Fight Night Champion. FNC triggered orchestral mixes by The Roots when gamers reached a specific and critical breakpoint in a championship fight. But that was scripted. Based on the patented technology description by Sony, the PlayStation’s music AI can increase the tempo of the music or launch a specific track more fitting to a given situation. The AI may even be able to find your most productive track to help you find your flow when you’re on the ropes. Yes, let’s use this technology in ESBC. All the time. Every fight, please.
Keep it locked in with SGO for more news and updates as we continue our talks with SCI to deliver you exclusive previews of eSports Boxing Club.