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8 video games that need a spectator mode

Sometimes, it's better to kick back, relax, and watch others play, but some games just won't let you. Here are the titles that sorely need to remedy that.


Some games are just more fun when you can watch others play. That's a fact. Just think about it: When you're eliminated from a first-person shooter, isn't it fun to watch the other players duke it out until the match is over instead of being kicked to the lobby? And if you're sitting out a race in Mario Kart, wouldn't you love to have the ability to see what other players are up to if you're hosting a tournament or something else of the sort?

We think spectator modes are sorely needed in a wide variety of games, so we decided to do something about it, at least the only way we knew how: putting a list together. The following are some of the games we believe that need a spectator mode the most. From Tetris 99 to Legends of Runeterra, we've lined out our reasoning for why these particular titles are so deserving. 

Be sure to check out our choices and see if you agree. You never know, we could make some waves here if the right developers hear our pleas. 

Ozzie Mejia - Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

It's such a rarity to find a first-party Nintendo title with good netcode. That's why years after Mario Kart 8 Deluxe's release (and even longer since the Wii U original was released), the game is starting to experience a resurgence and gain a bit of an esports following.

Credit to Esports Arena Las Vegas' Bassem 'Bear' Dahdouh for helping get the good word about competitive Mario Kart out there. It's proven to be a consistently fun watch at any time of the day and it's proven to be a good home to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate players who need a break from their own game's awful online play.

Now all that's missing is a strong spectator mode, which shouldn't take too much effort on Nintendo's end. After all, they've put so much effort into Mario Kart TV and the game's various replay tools. Spectator mode could offer an even easier way to follow the action, which could prove helpful if the Mario Kart 8 scene continues to develop.

Or just let me watch a massive Battle Mode. That's cool, too.

Asif Khan - Tetris 99

Tetris 99 could be one of the best battle royale esport in the universe if they could just add a spectator mode. The Password Game feature allows players to create private matches, and all that is needed to take this game to the next level competitively would be the ability for a commentator to join a Password Game without having to play. The UI in Tetris 99 lends itself perfectly to a Spectator Mode as the caster could tap on whatever player they want to focus on. This needs to happen, Nintendo. Please understand.

Ozzie Mejia - Star Wars Battlefront 2

There isn't any kind of competitive following or esports community involved with Star Wars Battlefront 2. I'm just looking at it from the perspective of somebody who really likes Star Wars. And I'm also looking at it as a casual observer who's noticed how hard DICE worked to salvage a terrible launch two and a half years ago and turn it into a pretty darn good Star Wars experience.

I'm looking for a cinematic experience here. Let me get an outsider's perspective on a large-scale Star Wars battle, either on the ground or in the sky. Let me witness one-on-one lightsaber clashes. And give me the option to set my own soundtrack to it from the far reaches of the Star Wars catalog. Yes, this is the way.

TJ Denzer - Legends of Runeterra

Legends of Runeterra is Riot’s take on digital card games like Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering Arena, using League of Legends champions and lore as the foundation of each unit and card. This is a game that Riot has built from the ground up for competition just like nearly everything else they do. Yet it might come as a surprise that a Spectator or Observer Mode like that which can already be found in both Hearthstone or League of Legends isn’t currently in the immediate plans for Runeterra, according to Design Director Andrew Yip.

Certainly, Legends of Runeterra is working on shaping up core game elements even after their game’s successful launch in April 2020. Nonetheless, it’s a bit of a head scratcher that it’s not on the foreseeable gameplan. There’s precedent to look at in both their genre with Hearthstone, and their brand with League of Legends. They might not copy and paste models, but with a game as ready for players to compete in front of the masses as Legends of Runeterra, it seems like a silly current omission for a promising spectator esport.

Blake Morse - Wipeout Omega Collection

Really all racing games should have some sort of spectator mode, but in particular arcade or fantasy racers are usually the titles in the genre that don’t include it. Wipeout Omega Collection is chock full of super-fast hover cars flying through some of the most abstract courses ever seen. Being able to sit back and observe racers as they go through loop de loops or boost over giant ravines seems like a no-brainer to me.

The ability to switch between racers on the fly to either catch the mad skills of the player in first place or see how other skilled drivers make up the distance and go for the gold would be a fantastic addition to the Wipeout series. And just imagine if they did add a spectator mode and other titles like Mario Kart caught on to the concept. It could be revolutionary.

Sam Chandler - Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Against all odds, Halo: The Master Chief Collection is making its way to PC. This is the first time a full Halo game has been released on PC since 2007’s Halo 2 Vista. It’s been a pretty big deal so far, and if Xbox and 343 Industries wants the game to continue to succeed, a spectator mode is definitely a worthy addition.

In fact, Halo: MCC already has the trappings of a spectator mode in the form of the Theater mode. This was originally released with Halo 3 and allowed players to free-cam around the map while a pre-recorded match unfolded. It was groundbreaking at the time and potentially a good building block for a spectator mode. 

If we’re too far into the Halo: MCC life cycle, and major additions are off the table, it’s likely worth looking ahead. Halo Infinite is due out at the end of the year, and if the game is to work wonders in the esports scene, a spectator mode is almost essential.

Chris Jarrard - Any pro wrestling game

The user creation tools are often the most compelling part of any pro wrestling video game. They allow users to build out fantasy rosters and play fantasy booker for their own wrestling organizations. Sadly, much of the amazing work put into these projects goes unseen or underappreciated as there is no easy way to have guests stop in for a watch.

The same goes for matches between players. Much like its real-life counterpart, video game wrestling is less about pure competition than it is about telling a story through combat. It feels like a waste for folks to be unable to login to the game and have the chance to enjoy epic battles or humorous stories.

A spectator camera will allow for more exciting moments than a conventional gameplay camera ever could. These types of games will never have the balance of an esport, so a spectator mode would be a wonderful way to share the choreographed dance of cyber pro wrestling with the world.

Aardvark, the forgetful editor - Wreckfest

Unlike most of the selections mentioned here, Wreckfest already has working spectator and replay modes, though their availability and usefulness for esports or casual spectator purposes is disappointing. Each session of Wreckfest plays out like a symphony of destruction. At any one moment, multi-ton hunks of sheet metal and rubber collide in spectacular fashion. Races are won and lost by hundredths of a second and made more exciting by the game's solid physics systems.

The current spectator system fails to live up to the lofty standards set by the in-game action and dedicated spectator slots with enhanced controls for multiplayer sessions could be enough to launch Wreckfest into legendary status.

Do you agree with our picks? Be sure to let us know what you think in the comments below!

Shack Staff stories are a collective effort with multiple staff members contributing. Many of our lists often involve entires from several editors, and our weekly Shack Chat is something we all contribute to as a group. 

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