Friday, October 15, 2010

The Sky is Falling

The sky is falling. Woe be unto us. Everything is doom & gloom. Paintball is dying. It isn't what it once was. Paintball had its chance and blew it.

So said Chicken Little. (Okay, just the part about the sky falling but I'm working on a metaphor here.) So say more than a few paintball types these days as well. And yes, a case could be made to claim that VFTD has been as negative as anybody else. But there is a difference. One I'll get to later.

If you've been playing less than 5 years--shut up. If you're not even 20 years old yet--shut up. If you are some angst-ridden emo dork who can't see thru his bangs and is tired of cutting himself--shut up. If all you do is reflexively regurgitate what ten other people tell you to think--shut up.

Did I say I was fed-up with the whiners, naysayers & crybabies?

Yeah, things are different and (seemingly) not for the better if all your doing is counting numbers. They are also different from how they were twenty-five years ago yet I'd be willing to bet most of you would prefer today's game over the antique game. Hell, many of you don't have a clue what the game was like twenty-five years ago. So we're on the farside of competitive paintball's heyday--paintball's first heyday. But I'm reasonably certain there is no cosmic law of the universe that says paintball gets one chance and one chance only to go mainstream. And even if that were true, so what? Most everyone playing the game plays the game because they enjoy it. They aren't looking for the big score, the mega-million dollar mainstream or dreaming of being on Sportscenter. National level tournament play has declined but the biggest World Cups happened before the xball era. The move from 10-man to xball reduced participation but I don't recall anyway proclaiming then that the end was near. And the xball team turnout this year is the third largest ever. Fewer teams played WC in 1999 than will play Cup next week. Was national level tourney play supposed to grow and grow and grow? Forever getting bigger and bigger? The tourney format never could sustain unlimited growth. Things are different. Some high profile teams are gone. As are chunks of the PBIndustry. If you look at the history of the game the aberration was the huge growth in the early part of the last decade.

The sky isn't falling. The world of competitive paintball is changing. Has changed. Some of the changes were intentional and others weren't. What comes next is opportunity. Yes, it remains difficult in many portions of the industry and there are no guarantees things will improve for everyone or that everyone still in the game in whatever capacity will still be in it day after tomorrow. That's life. For those who wanted a change in the Old Guard there's a better chance of that happening tomorrow than there ever was yesterday. For those who want greater diversity within the game that was never going to happen when the status quo was such an all-encompassing success. Today's turmoil is the breeding ground for tomorrow's solutions. It isn't the end of the (paintball) world. It's still just the beginning.

VFTD has, over the years, attempted to look at paintball and the competitive game in particular without the hardcore fan's rose-tinted glasses. Without buying into the industry hype. Without blindly following the crowd or getting hung up on the status quo. So, yes, I've been critical of lots of things. Mostly 'cus they were wrong or being done poorly. (In my estimation anyway.) The point has never been to be needlessly contrarian or negative. It's always been about the game and making it better and in a game where the movers & shakers want to act in secret there's nothing wrong with an open, honest discussion.


Reiner Schafer said...

Good post Baca.

In 1980 there were a total of zero people playing the game o paintball. Twenty years later, there were over 10 million. Virtually everyone in an industry does well during when going through that kind of growth. It was no different for paintball. Fields, stores, manufacturers, distributors, league organizers, all were doing well. But it (growth) can't continue indefinitely (in any industry). Eventually it had to stop. But during that growth period, we had a lot of people entering the market and a lot of people already in the market expanding further. Much of that speculation was based on continuing growth, but when the growth stopped, it was obvious that some would suffer.

I agree that there is opportunity. Paintball will never disappear, but it will (possibly has) stop growing. Now we are in a mature industry where those who do things well, and do things right will survive. Those who did little except speculate on endless growth of the industry, will not fare well. That includes tournament play. Those who give the players what they want and can do so while staying in the black, have a chance. But it will be tough. Like any industry based on a sport or hobby, there are always plenty of "entrepreneurs" willing to take a risk because they want to make the industry their job and think they can do it a bit better than the other guys.

At it's roots, paintball is a lot of fun. And for that reason, paintball will always be around, even if the formats change a bit over time.

Anonymous said...

I am very glad this is happening. It's time for paintball to become more realistic and possibly grow again. The uncertainty of the sport and its premier leagues is exciting to watch. New ideas and changes all over the industry will be a postive step for paintball, I think.

Anonymous said...

Paintball is only exciting to watch by current players. There is no non-playing fan base whatsoever. Every other sport as spectators. Paintball has none. There is absolutely no attempt to make it fan friendly. Attend a tournament and unless you are a player, you have no idea what has happened other than everyone got shot out. Penalties mean nothing to the spectators since no one knows what happened. They are just left in the dark. I've tried to be a fan, but have now decided to give up. Goodbye to all.