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PC Games (Games) Entertainment Games

Does Professional Gaming Have a Future? 116

mr_sifter writes "Three years ago, celebrity gamers such as Fatal1ty were bagging millions in prizes, and TV channels were queuing up to broadcast games on TV. Professional gaming looked set for the big time. It never happened, and in the current economic crisis, sponsors and media organizations are cutting costs, resulting in the closure of many pro gaming competitions (as we recently discussed) and a down-scaling in prize money. This feature looks at whether pro gaming can bounce back, and whether it will always be a PC sport, or if pro gaming on consoles is the future."
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Does Professional Gaming Have a Future?

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  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 11, 2009 @06:49AM (#27540885)

    It's just a marketing tool by PR companies. As soon as they find a better way to sell games, they'll drop it like a hot brick.

  • by KarlIsNotMyName ( 1529477 ) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @07:29AM (#27541037)
    Yeah, athletes and actors can take a big hit in salary and still be well paid for what they're doing (either they take a big hit, or we stop using the stupidly expensive actors for movies that could've been made a lot cheaper and a lot more profitable without them). I don't see how their roles in society are more important than that of a farmer, that actually gives us something we need to live. Or a doctor, that straight up saves lives. Same goes for the CEOs and really anyone that's worth more than 10 million dollars. No one needs more than 10 million dollars to spend on themselves, and no one needs anything near that per year. That money can buy a big house, a big car or other transportation, and the best medical treatment (though if you need expensive medical care, you're more often than not, not in a position to pay for it).
  • Of course (Score:4, Insightful)

    by evilNomad ( 807119 ) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @07:48AM (#27541107)

    As long as someone is willing to sit and watch someone play a game, why wouldn't there be basis for a pro-gaming? Would you like to advertise directly to 1.000.000 16-25 year old males that play a lot of games, and buy a lot of hardware? Well then pro-gaming is where it is at, and you can get some really cheap well targeted advertising. When the advertising dollars are there, the rest is easy.

  • by dr_wheel ( 671305 ) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @09:06AM (#27541411)

    A little background about myself: I spent the better part of my teens and early 20's playing at a high competitive level in games like Quake and Counter-Strike. I've won semi-major events; I was even on a few teams with notable CPL/WCG winners. You could say that I was right on the cusp of becoming a pro gamer.

    There are a few reasons that I didn't go "pro" like a budding career and the fact that only the very cream of the crop players actually made enough money at the time to consider pro gaming a worthwhile endeavor. I knew I wasn't the best player around, and carting myself around to places like the CPL to finish in the bottom half of the top 10 or top 5 didn't make any sense to me. Working a steady job and earning a living from 9-5, 5 days a week, did.

    Back then, I watched a lot of demos of other players and teams. You know what? I hated it. It felt like homework to me. When I attended lans, I rarely watched or was interested in spectating matches.

    Why? Because gaming, especially at the highest levels, is way more fun when you are actually playing. Gaming, to me, is all about the adrenaline rush that you get when you're storming a base, or grabbing quad damage, or fighting back to win a round when it's 1v3. Spectating, to me, is for losers. Spectating is what I did back in high school when I lost a round of Street Fighter II and had to sit and wait for my turn in a rotation of friends.

    I have probably said it here before, but it bears repeating. Pro gaming relies on sponsorship which, in turn, relies on spectators. And gaming is a is a poor spectator 'sport', or at the best, a niche market.

  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Saturday April 11, 2009 @10:23AM (#27541827) Homepage

    Things like Orange Smoothie/other mods for Quake 3, etc, allowed people to stream live matches to the web so people could watch the match, truth be told... not all video games are exciting to watch, and this has to do with the lack designing the game and the games systems to do what traditional camera's do for televised sports.

    Well you also have to realize that the televised sports aren't all that exciting to watch. They put in a lot of time, money, and effort into the production of the televised events. They have camera's all over the field with directors choosing the shot, when to do an instant replay, etc. They have a team of people just for putting that yellow line down on the football field to mark the first down. They hire experienced sportscasters who exist largely for the purpose of describing what's going to in such a way as to make it seem more interesting and exciting.

    Even if video games were otherwise viable as a spectator sport, they probably wouldn't gain in popularity until someone really put in the work to professionally produce the events like a sporting event. And who's going to do that when, as you bring up, it's such a moving target? People keep playing newer games, and even a given game might get updates which change the gameplay, so the rules of the game keep changing. The platforms keep changing. By the time you developed the systems and procedures and expertise to cover one game, years would have passed and that game would be old news.

    With most current professional sports, people have been playing that particular game for at least 100 years or so. Do you think today's popular video games will still be popular in 100 years?

  • Pro gaming (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rob1980 ( 941751 ) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @10:32AM (#27541885)
    Professional gaming looked set for the big time. It never happened...

    I will tell you why it never happened: the same reason other dot com creations like Webvan and Pets.com "looked set for the big time" and then promptly disappeared. The difference between professional gaming and Webvan is that professional gaming refused to die. A friend of mine was active in that stuff for years and despite being pretty good at what he did, all he ever won was an $800 check that had to be split 4 ways with his teammates. That was after multiple trips to all four corners of this country and at least a couple outside of the country. Not enough people give enough of a shit for sponsors to care enough about professional gaming, therefore there is no money in it for the participants unless you win the whole thing. Even low-rent sports leagues like the AFL pay their bottom-rung players something.

    The day an organized league with a valid, sustainable salary structure comes into town is the day professional gaming makes it. Otherwise all it'll ever be is a smattering of competitions for people who can afford to take long weekends to go sit in some hotel conference room and jam themselves full of Red Bull and play video games in tournament brackets.
  • Re:No (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 11, 2009 @11:44AM (#27542307)

    Same with NASCAR. As soon as they find a better way to sell cars and engine oil, they'll drop it like a brick.

  • by Dekar ( 754945 ) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @01:05PM (#27542853)

    A lot of them seem to be turning to online poker, which is obviously more profitable but requires similar skills.

    If there was a way to play Counter-Strike for 1$ a kill, then you'd have professional gamers.

  • The question is... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jerrei ( 1515395 ) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @05:44PM (#27544731)
    do professional gamers have a future?

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