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Showing posts with label Basketball. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Basketball. Show all posts

October 5, 2018

When will E-sports be more popular then real sports?

There's a LOT of factors at play here. I'm going to do this in one shot, so excuse my if I jump around and lack cohesion at some points, it's more of a thought dump.

Source: Former upper management at a professional esports organization in NA.

Let's start with culture. But it goes beyond that too. Humans, in general, are stubborn and lazy. This isn't a derogatory either. We do this to simplify things and keep routines so the brain doesn't have to work as hard. So changing things is really hard. Like MLB. If the baseball was founded in 2015 and the MLB in 2016, it would NEVER EVER make it to television. Having a primetime TV spot every night is huge! You have no idea how much exposure that gives you just from TVs being left on. You gain fans and viewership that way in ways that are immeasurable.

But not only that, as stated, MLB would NEVER make it to TV at all. With the exception of say the NYY, BRS and maybe the Dodgers, no team carries the viewership to make MLB sustainable. Most baseball games DO NOT sellout anymore. If the yankees are in town or it's a noteworthy rivalry, yea, aside from that, no. Most teams subsist on corporate sponsors and, just a guess, 1/4 or more of the seats on any given night are GIVEN away freely. When Sony sponsors the Yankees for $3M+/year, Sony gets STACKS of tickets every week to give out to employees, friends and family. I'm serious, stacks, thousands of tickets. WB Mason, all the sponsors of every team, they get stacks of tickets to fill that stadium. This is also why a hot dog and a beer costs you 30$. Your subsidizing the seat.

And speaking of sponsors, money makes things better. Do you think MLB and NFL get multi million dollar sponsorships in 30 second pitch meetings? No, they've been cultivating these for decades. The new guy in town has 30 seconds to prove themselves. The NFL has had 60 years of meetings to continue to establish value. It is NOT a level playing ground, so this makes it really hard for esports to get the resources and exposure it needs to grow like the NFL.

But that doesn't answer the changes about the game. The NFL and MLB do change. All major sports do! They get rule changes every year. We just don't get the patch notes unless you go digging. They don't affect the group of guys who play rough touch after work on fridays.

Sports basically have devs making changes too, but they go less noticed, until they're major and you hear about it in the news like the NFL changes to roughing the passer or what is a completion. This draws controversy and sometimes that helps.

Also, players change the meta in traditional sports too. Football started out as running the ball and kicking field goals. A forward pass wasn't a thing. You just don't see insane innovation like that EVERY game. Esports has had a very short lifespan so far, 20-25 years. CS 1.X had a REALLY long run too, basically with only minor rule changes, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6. Thats WAY less changes than the NFL has had in that same timespan. But at the end of the day, when the NFL changes the rule is the same as Valve patching DOTA. The meta evolves accordingly.

You also don't realize how many sports have come and live in the shadows too. XFL, American Ninja Warrior, Crossfit games (lol), World Arm Wrestling Championship, Drone Racing. You're essentially comparing a specific esports title to the exception, NFL. NFL is setting all the rules of sports viewership, this is all uncharted territory. The same goes for esports.

But why aren't people bored of football? Well, they change the rules to keep it interesting. Remember how bullshit OT used to be in the NFL? Patched. Remember toe kickers in the NFL who could hit a FG at 70+ yards but it was 50/50, now they do it at 50 for something like 85% of the time. Meta change.

A lot of it also has to do with regionalization of pro sports (which was innate, because some of them existed before TV and obviously streaming). Most fans of a pro team are a fan because they were born there or because their parents were/are fans. It's part of the culture. And changing culture is REALLY HARD. It takes generations for that to happen (as mentioned earlier, humans are stubborn and lazy).

If you saw MLB started in 2015, they'd most likely try to consolidate all the pro talent in one major city, form a bunch of teams and play out of one stadium to conserve costs. Exactly like LCS does. Traveling to all these cities is a MASSIVE luxury you can only afford to do with the resources they have had a stranglehold on for generations.

The reason for this stranglehold is again, the stubbornness and laziness of humans. 30 second pitch meeting, don't like it? Not taking any esports meeting for the next year or 2. This takes forever to change. Some of the biggest esports sponsors only got involved because someone young rose through the ranks over the years to get to a decision maker position and was either a friend of an owner OR was already a fan and wanted to get involved that way. These resources make it possible to advertise your matches on reddit which drives viewership. Do you realize how much advertising you see for the world series? It's every other fucking commercial during October. If the sport is that enthralling, why spend so much on advertising? They get deals through their corporate partnerships and they need the exposure. Esports doesn't have the resources to do this, for the most part. It's getting there.

But there's a lot of people who still just don't "get it". And this is really evident. Let's take DOTA2. 25M+ raised for TI prize pool (100M donated), PLUS all the twitch subs, PLUS all the direct donations to players, PLUS all the other money spent in game, PLUS all the time spent watching, PLUS whatever else I'm not thinking of. DOTA2 has one event that generates more revenue than some countries! A lot of businesses and people just don't understand how to tap into that. Granted, it's also really hard. But with that much money being thrown around, you'd think they'd see the value and would invest the time it takes to figure out how to get their piece of the pie.

Personally, I don't like it being called e-sports at all... as it doesn't really meet the definition of sport at all (see below). There is a huge amount of skill to be good at a video game, but you can be a 400lb out of shape neckbeard and be great at video games, which you cannot for virtually any other sport (which plays into what others have said about impressing a casual observer).

I think esports are virtually never interesting to a casual observer - they are really only interesting to those who also PLAY the games, whereas most fans of football, futbol, baseball, basketball, etc have either never played or not since they were kids.

Because real sports takes years to adapt to a "meta" While e-sports "meta" is adapted to in a couple clicks. And will become the standard for the remainder of that game season.

For example using "meta" in NBA terms. The current meta-game is the "golden state warriors" heavy 3 point shooting and spaced out offense, They have been the team to beat for the past 5 years, a combination of player skill and elite coaching/playmaking led them there. This cannot be easily replicated and is the reason why they eviscerate the 2nd best team in the league with ease.

In a video game, players quickly use mathematics and map sense to find "OP" team combinations and implement them as soon as possible. Once other players become aware of this they can easily switch their meta game as well or else they can't compete. While I know player skill has alot to do with gaming. It will always be held back by character design that makes it "easier". hence the term "OP" and "cheese". simple tactics that any player can pickup and become relatively skilled. I can't jump on nba court and expect to score a basket. I'm sure I could jump on a pro esports team and get a couple kills if you point me toward the character who best manipulates the game mechanics.

To be fair, there is nothing to gain at being at an esport event other than the crowd. Watching someone at a console push buttons on a controller does not have the same effect of watching Lebron slam one down in person 50-100ft away. The physicality, the banter between players, the coaching, all aren’t seen on the esport scene. I’m grateful we live in an age where I can stream a grand final tourney, but BEING at a stadium for a walk off grand slam will always be more memorable than a great clutch headshot and watching them move mouse and click keystrokes. I enjoy both, but computers and video games start their public use around the 70s. Sports have existed since people have been around.

Not as drastic as e-sports, but sports also change. The rules are changed, in a sense to stay relevant or at least not to stagnate. I don't know the details, but rules of wrestling competitions had a big overhaul years ago. The soccer rules are changing steadily for a more streamlined game. I remember back then when they have decided to ban back passes to goalkeepers and forcing goalkeepers to start the game in 6 seconds when ball is in their hands. Also, if you were to watch a match from 80's, you would see sliding tackles that would result a direct red card today deemed legit by referees. The traditional sports, although the essence is still there (Still there are two guys trying to topple each other or 22 guys running after the ball), are also evolving.

The overlooked reason here is that sports and games with longevity are symmetric. In football, basketball, and even games like Chess and Go, both sides begin with exactly the same initial conditions aside from the skill of the players involved.

The games are also sufficiently complex that they aren't "solved" like tic-tac-toe and checkers, so there is enough variety to keep people watching or playing them.

As others have said, games that exist in the real-world and are complex enough require a lifetime of training to get good at, and actual sports require significant and noticeable changes to your physical body as well.

You don't need to change the game to make it interesting when you meet those criteria.

In video games, something can only happen if it is programmed to happen. The things that a player can do are very strictly limited by the programming. This goes beyond the rules of the game, and into things like the engine used to run the game. This means that there are a finite number of things that are possible.

A person who plays a game a lot, like a professional player, is going to get a very solid understanding of not just the rules of the game, but the rules of the game universe. They know that doing XYZ under circumstances ABC will result in 123 happening. Randomness is eliminated. I press the button at the right time 100 times, the ball goes into the hoop 100 times.

In real life, the exact same thing is true. However, the "programming" of real life is massive when compared to the programming of a video game. At the moment, no single person has the ability to get a solid understanding of the rules of the universe. Heck, the collective knowledge of mankind has barely scratched the surface. No matter how many times you practice throwing a ball through a hoop, there will always be factors that you are unaware of or unable to account for. "Randomness" is a bigger factor. I throw a ball into a hoop 100 times, I probably miss a few times.

So, real sports have a degree of randomness and significantly more skill involved in overcoming the randomness of the situation. Esports have far less randomness involved and the skills involved are significantly more mechanical. Against two evenly skilled opponents, it often comes down to rock-paper-scissors.

The result is that people tend to get bored of Esports more quickly. Enough people figure out the system of the game and can predict the outcome of matches very early on. "Looks like Tommy messed up his build queue, he's going to end up losing in 30 minutes." "Scott is going for marines, but Bill is going for roaches. Bill will win."

As a result of this, Esports need to constantly change in order to keep the attention of the viewers. Because people figure out the rules of the universe so much more quickly in games than in real life, they need to change the universe more often in order to maintain randomness.

There are a lot of posts here talking about physical sports vs esports, but what about (largely) purely intellectual contests? Leaving aside the definition of sport for a moment, chess and poker still keep a fanbase, and while they both innovate, a game of Texas Hold'em / a game of even bullet chess would be recognisable to a player from 50/100 years ago.

I think the most obvious difference is that esports is still a very young field. Maybe in another 10 years we will have 'classic' formats that don't really change that fast - something that will come about by evolution and a certain amount of trial and error. Those stable formats will have to time to generate a culture and a history that keeps fans engaged, and provides a context for competition and achievements: a certain amount of 'lore' if you will.

As a personal point, I don't think that most esports have yet figured out the fan experience yet. Most sports fans aren't players (at least, most aren't that good). For example, a lot of esports don't seem to realise that the best viewpoint for a player is not the best view for the spectator (especially in a multiplayer environment). I watched a CS tournament on TV, and almost everything was a reflection of player's own screens, and therefore incredibly confusing as a result. This makes stuff appealing only to the initiated/hardcore fan.

So, I’m a very casual video game player... kind of like how most people who watch sports casually understand the physical and tactical aspects of the sport. I have watched esports in TV and in person, but I’ve never enjoyed it. It’s hard for me to relate to the player and become invested in the action. When I watch someone play poker, having played poker myself, I can relate to the experience. I can emotionally connect with the situation. I don’t connect with esports in the same way. I think this is largely because the action is derived from watching an avatar of a person perform actions, while the person performing the action really disassociated from the action. I had the same reaction to watching drone racing. I find the casual viewership of car racing exciting and engaging, because even though I only see the car, I can relate and invest in the driver performing the action... I didn’t have the same reaction watching guys in chairs pilot drones. The pilot was disassociated from the action.

Which esports games in particular are you referring to? Most changes to popular esports games are balance related, as opposed to sweeping redesigns in an attempt to keep the game intetesting. The most popular esports games have had the same core gameplay beyond those balance changes throughout their life cycle, for the most part. The biggest thing would be new content (maps, weapons, characters etc), which is usually introduced as a form of balance, but yes, to also keep things fresh and exciting because there's a lot more competiton, and new competiton being introduced regularly.

The main reason esports games die is either because something new in the same or a similar genre comes along and goes viral and blows up and splits/pulls viewership, or the game fails to breakthrough and garner enough attention to become and remain relevant. Typical sports don't face the same issue. When was the last time a new sport popped up and became popular enough to contend with an existing staple? Probably mma pulling people away from boxing, but that didn't happen overnight, and boxing is still pretty popular and relevant.

People also tend to have a visceral reaction to unpopular balance changes or new content which can make a game less exciting to watch. Sports can have minor rule tweaks, but there aren't "balance" changes, new field layouts/configurations aren't introduced, a new kind of ball or goal isn't added, etc.

Sports do change over time. They just change at a much slower pace. Take basketball for example. In college, I did a study of basketball from 1990-2015 and the changes in test structure over time using a clustering algorithm. It showed that in 1990s the "meta" (using gaming lingo) was to have a 7' center, 6'10" PF, 6'8" SF, 6'6" SG, 6' PG as the lineup that gets the most minutes. The reason? In the 80s, Magic Johnson and Kareem in LA and Larry Bird in Boston and they changed the way the game was played--you had to have people who could guard all of them or you would lose. By the time LeBron came around, the PF position was completely redefined because you had to deal with him. Basketball also makes rule changes that cause the change in meta. For instance, basketball in the 90s did not allow zone defenses. If you double teamed someone you had to literally run at them to avoid an illegal defense. It also allowed more physical play such as extending your arm in the post to hold the offensive payer in place. Also no flagrant could. All of those rules have changed and this has made smaller players more useful in today's game because you can't just straight overpower them. Now we see the birth of Chris Paul, James Harden, and Steph Curry who have changed the game to make it more fluid.

Rule changes keep the game interesting and create new metas. Every sport goes through this. Esports have more competition hence more changes. Dota is constantly being challenged by new games to take the popularity. Who challenges the NBA? In the 60s and 70s, the NBA competed with the ABA and the game changed rapidly to the point where bad decisions were made on both sides and they almost collapsed.

While it happens at a faster pace in esports, this statement is actually false. The NBA (who I’d argue is the frontrunner for being innovative and adding new viewers) has added a shot clock, added a time set to being in the paint; has added new teams and has changed the draft / entrance rules and typically has 2-3 rule changes every year (although not noticeable to the average joe). The NFL within his the last couple years has moved back the PAT kick, pretty sure they’ve changed the kickoff and are considering removing it all together. Not to mention overtime rule changes. The NHL has also recently implemented overtime rule changes that even go as far to change how many people are on the ice. The MLB I’m pretty sure In recent years has either changed the base length in some way or pitching in one way or another.

While the games themselves seem to change every year at a much faster pace it’s typically Bc there’s an entirely new game out anyway.

The games have changed dramatically over the years over what seem to be simple rule changes. And now we’ve entered the age of math in sports which has completely changed how teams are built across a variety of sports.

Personally basketball is my favorite and you can truly dive deep down the rabbit whole into the analytics but the sports were watching today are quite different than the same sort of 10-20 years ago

Simplest answer is that in traditional sports the athlete is the entertainment, their personality, talent and effort are what draw in viewers, the game is just a structure to show those things off. In e-sports the game is the draw, the developers the real stars, some players/teams will get notoriety by really they main purpose is to drive the game forward and challenge the developers. If the players and systems don’t challenge the developers then the game becomes stagnant and uninteresting, something that won’t happen in traditional sports because the game isn’t the driver of entertainment value.

Why aren't E-sports as popular as regular sports?

eSports will never become that popular compared to other sports of the olympics on the simple basis that physical achievement is still a measure of hand-eye AND eye-total-body coordination and video games simply is a stripped down version of that in some aspects, while incorporating other "abilities" (like in dota) made possible ironically but precisely because of its stripped down nature.

(ie: its not physical because unlike sports, you're not expected to move yourself as the video game does it for you. But being that its a video game, now one button can make you into a Swedish penguin that uses a gatling gun during a 20 second ability boost, etc)

The former sees the total accomplishment of that traditional physical form of sports, whereas the latter enjoys the added perks from precisely those additional benefits achieved from its lack of physical form (ie2: virtualization)

I can't admit to be a real life sports fan at all, but not gonna lie, I have zero desire to watch other people play video games. I totally do not rag nor want eSports to stop growing. But I find it equally, if not more boring than going to a sports game, which I already find tremendously boring. I speak only as someone who's been to video game conventions but I never met people that go out of their way to play games a lot, that I find particularly interesting.

Basketball: the center position has seen a decline, but we might be due for a resurgence of the center. 3 point shooting has become a large source of points, but that’s reopened the center of the floor for centers. The physicality of the game has changed for sure, but a strong center or even a power forward with the ability to shoot three pointers, even just mediocrely, opens up the defense enough to allow him to work the paint with some dominance. We even have big men that have enough agility to float to the guard positions like Giannis! It’s a lofty prediction but I hope we see a resurgence of the big man to counter the shifting towards outside shooting that we’ve seen. Putting shaq back in the game now he’d be pretty dominant, obviously minus the free throw shooting part of his game though.

It kindda feels like a meta change though.

Don't think of yearly games like CoD. Think about games like CSGO, DotA 2 or LoL, games that have been around since almost the beginning of the 2010s. Those have mostly remained unchanged. CSGO has mostly the same map pool since the the beginning, with the same maps rotating in and out of the pool with some minor reworks here and there. On LoL, new Champions are added every season sure but the enviroment the are induced into is the mostly the same already existing, and the change they bring won't make it a different gam. Sure look a LoL's latest patch and the 2011 counterpart, and you'd hardly believe is the same game, but same can be said about other sports, on much larger scale (time wise). Look at the steering wheel of an F1 car from 60 years ago, then one from 15 years ago, and the current ones then will look like space exploration level tech (which is not to far from the truth tbh).

The meta shift in physical sports is much slower than eSports though. Someone will probably have a good idea of how a sport is played if it's been around for decades or hundreds of years with little changes. As someone who started playing LoL first season it is hard to keep track of what is going on between item changes, new champs, champ reworks, jungle changes, etc. unless I actively keep up. The rule changes that physical sports make are probably better compared to cd/scaling/base damage balance changes.

Of course sports change. You can't change physics, but you can easily change the rules of the game.

American Football didn't used to have downs (this resulted in some really, really boring games, since you could basically waste time til the end of the half). Mass formations like the flying V used to be common (this resulted in a lot of deaths). You used to have to be 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage to pass. At one point the NFL even literally moved the goal posts, to make it more difficult to score a field goal. Much like in video games, the core mechanics are left alone but they're always editing the rules.

And of course sports get replaced. Boxing and horse races used to be two of the most popular professional sports in America. Now they're fairly niche.

To piggy back on this comment the enduring nature of sports culture creates an identity feedback loop; People associate themselves with their favorite teams, invest in related merchandise. I haven’t played Overwatch in a minute but the first league has a vastly different “Meta” than the current league. The skills I picked up back when I played the game would need to be vastly tweaked to be relevant in today’s game. Whereas the sports I played in school haven’t changed all that much, I can more readily identify my own experience with a baseball game broadcast before my time as well as one played today than I could with a game that has new characters or maps. There’s a continued investment in having to continually relearn an esports game that doesn’t match the effort required to follow traditional sports.

Late 1800s baseball looks nothing like baseball today.

There are very few sports which have become popular within the last 20 years, perhaps MMA is the one that comes to mind. Though you can argue that even MMA has existed for many decades and was refined somewhat before it became further refined by the UFC.

So changing and evolving to find a format that works and attracts audiences is something that sports have had to do, just like esports are doing.

Also, I think many video games were not designed with large audiences in mind. I love to play Civ or WoW, but I don't want to watch other people play them for hours on end. Some people do, but they're not designed with audiences in mind, they're designed with a single player playing or multiple people playing together. They are not spectator activities, they're participatory.

In the physical world, hiking is a great participatory activity, but it doesn't make for much of a spectator activity.

2) There are many more sports which do not attract large audiences than those that do.

In the United States (where I live, it varies by country), very few people tune in to watch curling, kayaking, horseshoes, badminton, dodgeball, volleyball, polo, water polo, archery, sailing, weightlifting, lacrosse, rugby, ultimate, or skiing. Some of those sports have professional leagues here, but attendance and pay are minimal. Some of them get watched every 4 years during the Olympics but that's it.

Now think about games. Hardly anyone watches chess, backgammon, bowling, darts, go, scrabble, or crossword puzzle competitions on TV.

The number of sports and games that are watched by large audiences is far smaller than the number of sports and games that are not watched much at all.

I think that esports will be popular if the game is designed from the beginning with spectators in mind. Hardly anyone watches chess on TV these days, but millions watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. In order to be popular, something has to be designed for spectators.

One major reason is likely that traditional sports teams, etc have roots in physical towns, regions and a such the whole culture of those towns and regions. Your local team becomes part of your identity which is reinforced by all of your neighbors and family and friends also supporting that team and thereby the sport as a result. When you go to a game or the bar you are surrounded by fellow fans and you feel supported, accepted, and part of something bigger. Support therefore stems from a lot more than just pure entertainment, but has much deeper emotional roots, you actually feel a proper sense of love, elation and pride as if it were your own when your team scores, as opposed to just being interested in the strategy or technicality like esports fans may be. Even if they do feel that, it isn’t as engrained as traditional sports are, where there are thousands of people who feel that way about football for every one or two who support DOTA for instance. Viewers therefore reinforce each other to keep viewing to a much greater extent, and are much less likely to get bored, because it’s almost more about that emotional aspect than the actual plays, etc.

Well, that’s at least part of the answer

Edit: Not saying this couldn’t become the case for esports, or isn’t the case in some places, but rather that the physical presence of so many more fellow fans as a result of regional fanfare and this spanning across generations in traditional sports and this becoming part of family and community identity is part of the reason for the more unfaltering support of traditional sports.

This is spot on. Changes in eSports teams happen literally all the time. Your favourite team gets rebranded and half the players are swapped - so technically your favourite team doesn't exist anymore. Players and organisations get moved around constantly, so you can't really build a connection with a team that can keep you watching.

In traditional sports, Real Madrid won't become Futbol Allstars in an year, and won't have all your favourite players swapped out by then. In eSports there's like 2 organisations that keep their brand consistent and coincidentally they actually have a fanbase (besides bandwagoners who root for the whoever's winning at the current moment).

It's not all of the reasons, but is surely one of the important ones.

Because in live sports things change constantly because they are grounded in the real world. Things that happen are happening in a real and dynamic environment, so even when they are trying to do things mechanically identically, the fact that they're in the real world means it's still different every time. When all of the real world differences are stripped away by the computer, a person clicking in the same pattern a few times is identical on the screen.

The bigger reason is that you can't follow esports easily of you don't play the game, whereas you can understand the gist of most sports just because it is humans doing the things on the screen. Everyone knows what throwing a ball looks like, and what it looks like when it's done impressively. Nobody who hasn't played Dota or watched lots of it knows what a dragon slave is or looks like.

This means that love sports can constantly refresh their audience with new members, whereas to get new esports watchers you basically need new esports players. The changes to the game are to get people to play, not to watch.

With video games it's inherent shelf life is part of the point. The next version, sequel, patch, update, console, etc is always just around the corner so the companies can sell more stuff. Each version is supposedly better than the last and there are thousands of games to attract attention.

With sports, tradition is valued and changes are made gradually if at all and are usually not drastic. The players are the things that have a shelf life not the game itself. Football or tennis is interesting because of the new athletes and strategies in a familiar setting. They don't need to make a new sport or super tennis modern racket attack 3 to keep up with new basketball 5.0 remix every few years.