Monday, May 3, 2010

See America & Play the PSP

No, I'm not shilling for the PSP. (But I do feel a little dirty bringing this up.) I received an interesting (for once) email from the league today--as did everyone else on their mailing list--suggesting an economical alternative to high priced plane tickets. Amtrak. Rail. The network of commuter and passenger cross country train travel. (The link is in the title.) The sample fares are seriously cheap--though I'm assuming they are one way--but I don't know. Regardless the PSP is being proactive and making practical moves to encourage participation. And that's worth mentioning particularly as VFTD is in the middle of a series of posts on promotions.


papa chad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
papa chad said...

seems like a great alternative to riding in a fifty year old plane.
and since we can't really make paint any cheaper, lowering other costs of playing events is a serious step forward. go pispy.

anonachris said...

Come on. The PSP missed out on the golden (green) opportunity to talk about how you could reduce your carbon footprint and go green at the same time. How you'd not only be saving paintball, but saving the planet, as you go back to the beginning by playing at the greatest venue Chicago has ever seen.

Go Green with the PSP!

Missy Q said...

'the greatest venue Chicago has ever seen' might be a bit of a stretch, but you can prolly still sneak weed onto a train, and that's a motivating factor that shouldn't be underestimated.

anonachris said...

I was just stretching out what they already said. I'm not a Badlandz fan boy, unless we're talking about back to the woods in Badlandz. I wonder if the PSP could do something like that.... have one leg of the PSP be a "combine event" that was a throw back of the old school.

It would be cool instead of having a bunch of standardized events to have each leg of the series have something unique about it. Airball at the start of the season, old school woods at Badlandz, Hyperball at MAO, and Airball at World Cup. That way players would be taking part in a PSP tour, rather than just more of the same at some place new (old)

Just a wacky idea. I think everyone who knows misses the extreme diversity of fields like the Mounds at PA or the wacky fields in Dallas, etc.

anonachris said...

Actually I'm going to double down on this. While some people place blame on rate of fire for the decline in paintball participation, I'll rank my decline as:

1. Greater economic decline (we can't influence this)
2. Event diversity
3. ROF jerks

I think event diversity is possibly having a major impact. If you go back in the day, a woodsball player was not that different from a tournament guy. He was well rounded and they all played the same thing. Now we have such a clear start line between the two groups that it's obvious there is such a dividing line, "that's not for me" says the rec player, who really hasn't experienced concept fields paintball to its fullest anyway.

But back when we had events which rotated the games from woods to hyper to air in a single event you had a well rounded approach to the game that was not so exclusive.

Now the PSP and NPPL is stuck marketing to a segment within a segment within a niche. When you take such a narrow slice of the pie, it's obvious you're going to have a small piece on your plate.

Take a bigger slice by being a bit more inclusive in the kind of paintball we play at events. This will not only allow more teams to be attracted to the events, but it will keep them there longer too. They won't get burned out on the same old. And it will give a clear sign to the recballers that you can advance in tournaments without leaving the good behind.

I'll suggest this trend in declining interest of rec ballers was not so apparent back in 2000 because everyone playing back then had come from a blended woods/concept approach and were "well rounded" so to speak. Now we're raising a generation of players who do not have the same foundation as the rest of us, so it should not surprise us that the foundation we're building on is a bit shaky.

J-Bird said...

well...they are pairing this with the UWL during chicago -- itll be interesting to see if there is any cross over of the two "demographics" during the event.

Kevin Donaldson said...

There has already been discussions with the guys at Badlandz regarding a true Old School Woodsball Event with the NPL we will just have to see how the Woodsball World Cup goes in September at the Old Survival NY to determine if the interest is truly there for this format

Reiner Schafer said...

Anonochris. You rank Greater Economic Decline as yor # 1 reason for decline in paintball participation, but we all know from wholesalers, store and fieldowners that the decline started during a time in America's history where unemploment was extremely low and the economy was arguably at one of it's strongest periods ever.

I'm not arguing that the economic downturn didn't cotribute to the decline, at least in some sectors of the industry (ie tournament ball). But to argue that the economic downturn is the #1 reason makes no sense at all. If that were the case, the years preceding the downturn, when the economy was extremely strong, should have seen increases instead of the declines that were evident.

ROF (as in balls per second) has been made to be the culprit for the declines. I will always say that it is the ROF as measured in balls per day or balls per outing, is much more the culprit.

Give a group of first time players stock Model 98's that most will only be able to shoot 5-6 bps at, a case of 2,000 paintball each for their outing and at the end of the day, I will bet you that a lot fewer of them will come back for their second paintball experience (some of them to eventually become regular players and tournement players) then if you had given them 500 paintballs each.

Throw those same players in with a bunch of trigger happy regulars shooting a case each at 15 bps will make things that much worse of course.

On topic: Trains are too slow.

anonachris said...


What do you know of luxury industries? They always, ALWAYS fall before the broader economic decline.

These are the first things to get trimmed from the budget.

Try as you might, you can't escape it. Paintball is a luxury. Luxuries get hit hardest and preempt/precipitate a broader economic decline.

anonachris said...

oops... sorry, I just glanced and thought it said Ryan... Didn't know I was replying to Reiner!

Baca Loco said...

And you were doing so well, a-chris
For purposes of comments I'm restricting mine to competitive paintball.
I agree that the number one cause of declining participation is the general economy. Number 2 is format and number 3 is accessability. Xball narrowed the pool for successful participants, lowered the core demographic and in the process moved away from the players with money. #3 is about the transition from rec player to competitive player and a lot of factors play in this one from what's available at the local field, ROF issues, to the loss in large measure of an older generation of comp players bringing in younger players and making it easier for them to learn & compete. I think my 3 factors are more in line with your general exposition than your factors--so I'm disagreeing with your argument--just your causes. And--
participation numbers in mlp events don't bear out the "diversity" issue claims. 10-man exploded in real numbers when it moved out of the woods. And 10-man was not in decline when xball came along. Xball overcame early resistance--as it's quite likely significant numbers of "traditional" players went to the NPPL in the early years of the split while xball continued to grow in real numbers until 2008 and even then '08's numbers were better than '06, just slightly lower than the peak of '07. And last year's xball numbers were ballpark (up over 25% in Phx, down less than 5% at MAO, down 15% in Chitown) thru the first 3 events with WC participation taking the biggest hit off almost 20% for totals below '06 but still well above '05.

Baca Loco said...

The reason for that is because the industry was used to annual increases between 20 - 30% so the first "flat year" was actually a year in which the marketplace didn't grow as it had been doing before leaving literally tons of inventory laying around.
I also think an argument can be made that the industry attempted to create something of an artificial sales cycle with the annual replacement of everything from knee pads to goggles to guns and it appeared to work because the high roller days were the real aberration.

Reiner Schafer said...

Anonachris, I'm not sure what your deffinition of a luxury item is. During a recession, the first things cut are obviously going to be the ones that are considered the least necessary. Is entertainment (fun; a break from the stresses of life) first on the list? I don't know. Some might coinsider them high on the necessity list. I guess it comes down to how severely strapped for cash a person is.

Competitive paintball is a way of life for many. You need to be very committed to make that sacrifice. It leaves very little room in your life for much else, at least for most average income folk. For those that made that commitment during good times, it may be difficult, even though it goes against all their desires, to stick with that commitment when times get tough. Once a player has decided to abandon that commitment, most often he will abandon it completely, not just cut back, cause that's hard to do in competitive paintball. The same line of reasoning goes for those contemplating getting into competitive paintball. So yes, the economy will have drastically affected competitive play.

The economy will also have considerably affected all other "regular" players (in other forms of paintball), although if they are not making the commitment to compete, it's much easier to cut back and just play less recreational paintball, instead of not at all. I can attest to the fact that I have seen a drop in visits by my "regular" customers during the recession.

But I can also attest to the fact that overall, our attendance has not dropped during the recession and I know many other fieldowners who are reporting the same and even significant growth. Attendance by occasional players has actually increased. I think paintball is not considered a luxury item for those people, but rather a replacement for more expensive forms of entertainment or relaxation (ie. expensive trips).

What this means to me is that when we come out of this recession, there will actually be a bigger pool of occasional players for competitive paintball (and other genres) to draw from.

Reiner Schafer said...

Baca, but these weren't just "flat years". These were decreases of approx. 20% "shipped by manufacturers". Whether it was inventory lieing around or being manufactured is irrelevant. There was either 20% less shipped in each of the two years prior to the recession, or prices were reduced by 20%, or a combination of the two. Either way, it was very indicative that things were not just slowing down, but were reversing.

This was in 2006 and 2007 when the economy was very strong (2006 was practically off the charts). I know paintball players are extremenly smart (tongue in cheek here) but you can't tell me that people started buying less (and stores and fields ordering less) because they could predict the future. Paintball players aren't THAT smart.

Baca Loco said...

What I am saying Reiner is that from around 2000 the industry saw a recurring increase of around 20% per annum and built their projections and production around that expectation. So that even if real sales in 06 matched '05 they were "down" 20% by year end and had dug a substantial inventory hole.
How many of them altered the following year's projections/production as a response? I don't know but if any of them assumed the 'down' year was an aberration all they succeeded in doing was digging a deeper hole.
And then the pre-bubble burst wave of no more refis mixed with mortgage resets hit predominanatly in the southwest and SoCal and Florida--all prime paintball territory building an undercurrent of localized hardship prior to an acknowledged "recession."
Additionally sales does not have any but a tenusous corallary to participation so it's difficult to judge actual player numbers even though it's been done in the past. Is the kid who doesn't buy this year's gear suddenly a non-player? Paint would be a better indicator but by paint sales I guess you're just barely in business. :-)
And I'm also postulating the unsustainability of the annual product cycle based on the glut of used gear that stopped reselling with the same velocity within the year a couple of years ago.
The assumption has always been a calamitous decline in the number of players but there are alternative explanations that make as much or more sense. And none of this is one overarching event but a series of causes and effects.

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