Professional Gaming On The Downturn, Cheesy TV To Blame

Professional Gamer David Treacy, or "Zaccubus" to his - erm - fans, recently spoke to Alienware about the changing face of professional gaming. Based on his interview, however, there's not much to talk about.

While Treacy compares the world of pro gaming to the economy ("It grew rapidly over the last decade, then almost imploded on itself"), he also mentions that the hardware is getting better, new games are being produced, and huge corportations (he cites Coke, Pepsi, Subway, and Adidas) are signing on as sponsors.

If there's no audience base for professional gaming, then Treacy blames television for being ill-equipped to properly capture the essence of gaming events. "Every TV show I've seen so far has been way too cheesy and not indicative of what pro gaming is about. Trying to squeeze an event into a 60-minute broadcast doesn't really work for gaming. Only recently, thanks to MLG, can we see what gaming events should look like: Great shoutcasting, well presented, and without the need to cheese it up for regular people to understand." Without this cheesiness that Treacy is referring to, what could possibly be left?

Don't get me wrong, I love watching people who are better than me at video games play them for money, especially when I don't know those people.

Oh wait. No I don't.

Treacy also describes the difficulties that one must endure in order to really make it as a pro gamer, a thankless profession that only pays about $US30,000 annually before sponsorships. His advice to aspiring pros boils down to the following: don't. "It's not easy to go pro. It takes time and if you don't pick the right games you could spend over two years mastering a certain game only to have it blown out of the water as no one is sponsoring it anymore. So pick wisely. Oh, and don't rage so much from losses. You only learn from your mistakes."

Here's to staying one of the Regular People.

Pro Gamers Staying Alive [via Alienware]

Top photo credit: Flickr


Comments

    Well you may not, but i know of many others who enjoy watching professional matches in SC2.

    Not only can they be fun and entertaining to watch, but its a good way to see what the pro's do different and how it can help your own game

      I will cosign. I lose my weekend when MLG is on. I barely even play Halo: Reach anymore, but I still watch it being played professionally.

      DON'T LAUGH HARLI!

      I agree,

      I play LoL and my friends and I really enjoyed watching the championship games being streamed from their site. It's interesting to see different champion strat's/item builds used in-game.

        Those LoL championships were INSANE! My mates did the same thing, we all sat in a mumble server watching the stream and making comments. I think it was the closest I will ever come to watching a 'footsball' match with 'the boys'.

        It was really entertaining to see such high level play, and It got me trying out the strategies that they used in my normal play!

      +1 here too. I don't even own a copy of SC2 but I really enjoy watching replays from casters like HD, Ahnaris and Husky. I'd definitely watch if finals matches and tournament highlights were gathered into a regular TV show.

    Professional gaming needs personalities to thrive.

    Fighting games are booming now with streams from the likes of Team Spooky and recognisable players like Justin Wong and Daigo making regular appearance.

    Normal sports tend to use some sort of narrative device to help gain attention. Team A might be the struggling underdog up against Team B, the unstoppable juggernaut. Player X is the cocky champion who is up against Player Y, the obstinate but relentless "worker".

    You apply those tropes to professional video games and it all still works. Regional rivalries, pride matches, personal grudges, "salty runbacks", everything you need is there. Just a matter of getting the public interested.

    Starcraft 2 has done this well. Not only are there great casters who add a lot of life to things, but there are also interesting players like TLO and Huk. Players who you can see the personality of through their playstyle and also through guest commentary and personal streams of them playing and commentating as they play.

    As a player, it would be harder to get to the top and the rewards probably aren't as great as you'd expect. But that is true for pretty much all competitions.

      Also agree - I think I still watch Reach because I recognise all the names from Halo 2 and 3. There's a consistency there, and an idea of who I want to support and cheer for. You're right on the money with that one.

        halorofl

    I watch professional gaming for hours and hours per week. The StarCraft 2 Global Starleague is on every weekday for hours and I'll try to catch as much of it as I can. With regards to StarCraft, I know for a fact that a large proportion of the viewer user-base does not play StarCraft at all, or only plays it to a very small degree. This is due to a highly accessible and friendly nature of the professional broadcasters who are well-spoken, insightful and just generally interesting personalities.

    I know outside Korea these broadcasts still don't get millions of viewers. However, taking a look at events like MLG and Dreamhack, where the League of Legends Stream had 200 000 live viewers simultaneously (the StarCraft 2 stream had about 100 000 live viewers at its peak), it shows that at least certain games in professional gaming scene is definitely on its way up. I can't speak for other games like fighters or shooters, since I have little interest in those games.

    Lately, I've also been watching Starcraft 2 more then playing it. Someone should link Jen a good tournament match. It's exciting stuff, even from the perspective of a casual/non-player.

    There's no audience for professional gaming, because there's no audience for professional gaming. The reason those shows were chessy was because there's nothing else for them to be, 'capturing a live event' amounts to watching someone play games for hours.

    Playing games is massively fun, watching people play games, not so much. The sponsors will wonder of when they realise the only audience at pro gaming events is made up of other pro gamers.

      Quite simply, you're wrong.

      Also, the pro gamer audience is the market that the sponsors are targeting. Most of the major teams for things like Starcraft and Street Fighter are manufacturers of peripherals sold to gamers. But it isn't just the pros, but the casual fans who think that using that equipment will elevate them to another level.

      And watching people play games can be fun in the same way that watching sports can be fun even though you could just play it.

        I suppose I'm over applying my own experience, I've watched professional game events and found them massively tedious, I love games but I just don't see the attraction for most general gamers.

        I understand people who play games seriously online and who know what the hell an Orb of Venom strategy is would be seriously into pro-gaming and avidly follow competitions and players, but I think that audience has a cap and the average number of people watching pro events today isn't going to increase dramatically over the next few years. It's a niche group and not likely to inflate as the hobby gets more exposure. And the sponsors I mention are the same ones Treacy mentions in the above article.

        I don't disparage pro-gaming, they have a hobby, they're passionate about it, they get paid for it, that's awesome (i'm overly enthusiastic about Koei games and get butt-hurt over Dynasty Warriors consistently getting crap reviews by everyone but Destructoid). But I just don't think (and I freely admit I may be wrong) Pro-gaming is just about to sweep the world any day now and electrify the public with televised Starcraft II battles and become some zeitgeist form of entertainment.

    It's a good commentary, considering that most shows that do make it on to TV are apparently aimed at parents confused as to what to buy for their 8 year old children. I'm outright embarassed by some of the crap I've seen.

    But realistically I think it's pretty well established, particularly in the fighting game realm as mentioned earlier, that streaming is the way of the future for pro gamers. Who needs ludicrously overpriced TV spots when it's already proven that youtube and other streaming sites are viable advertising streams. Large gaming events are becoming more and more popular and a live stream can have literally thousands of viewers at a time, etc etc etc.

    Although this article is extremely glib it does indeed make the point that 'pro gaming' has a ways to go even in the community itself. I'm not thinking we need to take it to Korean proportions but that said I do tune in to Gootecks and Mike Ross periodically.

    the SC2 Shoutcasters(day[9] & JP) have a differant veiw, their argument is this:

    in the age of Itunes and Hulu when all television is moving to the internet, why is it even relevant to move pro gaming from the net to the TV? why go backwards when the audiance already consumes their media through the net anyway.

    I don't even like playing RTS games, but watching pro's go at it is a lot of fun.

    Never played StarCraft but I still enjoy watching SC2 games that have decent commentary. Actually, come to think of it, most games that I watch are games that I don't play. League of Legends would be the exception.

    If you have a background in gaming you have an understanding how most games work at a basic level and if the commentary is good you can start to get the deeper strategy of the game pretty quickly. I'd love to play these games, but between work, sport, relationship and social commitments I don't have the time. I'm lucky to have a girlfriend that will cook and clean a couple of nights a week so I can get in a few games of LoL with friends.

    SC2 is some of the most intense stuff you can watch, I freaking love watching the pros battle it out. Go HuK!

    Poor journalism.

    The interviewee was misrepresented in this article:
    http://twitter.com/#!/Zaccubus/status/88376221058088960

    Capitalising random words:
    "Here’s to staying one of the Regular People."

    Sarcasm? In a news piece?
    "Oh wait. No I don’t."

    Shameful.

    In other news the Starcraft 2 eSports community is booming with streams of MLG and shows such as the Day[9] Daily attracting thousands of viewers everyday. As Jen pointed out major companies are even sponsoring players, teams and tournaments! I am excited for the future of eSports.

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