Friday, December 31, 2010

Lane's Letter to Whom It May Concern

Regarding the changes to be made in the PSP for 2011. (Btw, title is link to Lane's statement.) I'm not sure there's much more to be said--but when has that ever stopped me before? Regarding Lane's statement I wouldn't have expected anything less. It's a clear, reasonably concise, logically ordered combination of explanation and intent that tells anyone who is willing to listen why Lane has made the decisions he has made. And given that I have the advantage of knowing Lane fairly well I have no doubt at all that his statement is also both sincere and honestly what he believes to be in the best interest of the PSP and the teams and players who want to be able to compete nationally.
Of course I've been convinced of all those things all along. And I hope all the fence sitters will give the changes a try and see what they think after playing with the changes.
Does any of that mean I'm going all wobbly? Not so much. I remain concerned that some of the changes won't achieve their intended goals. That doesn't make me anti-PSP. Just the opposite in fact. Look, however all this shakes out you'll find me at the first event of the season doing what I've been doing since 2003.


TJ said...

I just don't think the PSP is the best value for your money. I don't think that it can be fixed as easily as a few tweaks to the format. Regardless of how many people you focus your service too, they need to see a value. There are just too many other options that are worth it to players.

What reason should anyone play the PSP over the WCPPL? MSXL? NYPL? CFOA? VICIOUS? They're all cheaper, closer, and have higher payouts.

Stark said...

If you tink about expenses then yes smaller local tournaments are always cheaper for the player. But what do you want to win, some local event or main series and build your team to compeat in higher divisions?

Baca Loco said...

I can't (and wouldn't) argue your point. Everybody is going to assign value in different ways. In fact, I agree with you in the main and would go further. I don't think the lower div teams have any business playing a national circuit, only a season ending World Cup where the regional winners compete for a national title. See the VFTD column entitled, '(Almost) Everything Tournment Paintball Needs To Know' in the Dead Tree Archive. (Can't work an HTML link in comments apparently.) For me that's a future goal. For the present I'll settle for some continuity and trust that moves will be made in the right direction when it's possible.

Reiner Schafer said...

From Stark, "But what do you want to win, some local event or main series and build your team to compeat in higher divisions?"

I think most people just want to play and have fun. Sure they would like to win, but winning at any level makes a player feel good. It will depend upon the player.

If the players on current Pro division PSP teams, Like Baca's team for instance" were to compete and win a local tournament, they probably wouldn't get much satisfaction out of that. But if someone that isn't as skilled and doesn't have as much experience wins or even places at a local event, they may be ecstatic. Personally, I'd rather have a chance at winning a local event and feel good about it, then go to a national event that would cost much more and have a much smaller chance of feeling much satisfaction. But that's me, cause I'm not at a very high level of play.

The whole structure of national paintball leagues doesn't make sense, from a business perspective. The lower divisions are needed and must be well attended in order to cover all the associated costs of running the events/series. But those lower divisions are in direct competition with local events that offer similar value at a fraction of the cost. The only real difference is being able to say "I play in a national series". Obviously some people will pay extra for that perceived value, but apparently not enough extra.

My son plays men's soccer. He's played for Division 2 & 3 teams in the last few years. All games are played locally (relatively short distances to travel). Even the Division 1 teams, which is the highest divison available short of professional soccer, plays locally. Only after teams have won their local area's play, do they go on to play at a Provincial tournament to decide the provincial championship. Only the Division 1 teams go on to decide a National Champion. All teams are part of a club where members pay their dues at the beginning of the year and most expenses are paid out of those dues. Higher divisions have higher associated costs, but are paid out of club funds, a good portion of them anyway. Clubs are constantly having fundraisers of some sort to make extra income. That's soccer. Most other sports are set up similarly.

abc said...

Reiner et al.,
So it would appear the solution would be for the PSP to either focus on the handful of people who want to claim the title of being "the best" and make them pay dearly for it (not a good idea).

Or increase the amount of fun people have during the experience to add value.

Or decrease costs and go bankrupt.

Or while we're at it, change expectations about what you are getting from a PSP event. But that smoke and mirrors path has been followed before. By a fun experience, I'm defining real things related to what takes place on the field (and perhaps afterwards). Not fancy parking lots and girls in short shorts (nothing to do with paintball, but still nice we all agree--except that fat girl from Canukada)

Reiner Schafer said...

It’s always about the value. The problem the PSP faces is that there are not enough participants to cover the costs. Each potential participant at one point asks themselves if they want to take part. They will look at the cost to take part and weigh it against what they feel they will be getting out of the experience. They will also be comparing competing products (i.e. local tourneys/series) for cost vs. value. Every single potential participant goes through that thought process each time, whether he/she realizes it or not. But you have to remember the cost part of the equation incorporates many direct and indirect costs as well. Both are very real.

There are still a lot of tournament opportunities out there for the amount of players playing the game. And there are always more potential tournament organizers waiting in the wings. It seems a lot of people like to run tournaments, probably because in the past there was money to be made running tournaments and of course there is an ego thing involved.

Personally, I think it is very difficult, if not impossible, for the PSP to add as much value as is needed to attract enough participants to sustain itself. It’s also very difficult, and maybe impossible, to cut enough costs but maintain enough value to stand out enough, due to the much higher associated indirect costs participants have.

The way I see it, for the PSP (and many other tourney series) to survive, the overall competitive player population needs to increase dramatically. And for that to happen, one would have to figure out why that has not happened in the past and why the number has decreased in the past. If that’s possible to figure out (It seems if you ask 10 different people, you end up with 10 different opinions), then possibly some strides can be made to change that. But that seems to be a very difficult thing to figure out and in all honesty, even if the problem could be identified, it may not be easy or even possible for any entity within the industry to change it.

The reason that identifying the problem is so difficult, in my opinion, is that when we compare the upward slope of participation to the downward slope in recent years, there are many things that have changed. It’s almost like comparing apples to oranges and wondering why we used to sell so many apples and why aren’t people buying more oranges today?

Anonymous said...

I'm new to this tournament scene but has the PSP tried crossover marketing or festival type tournaments?They could offer something for people that aren't playing in the tournament such as mini skill camps for a fee or an info tent for beginners.Also,I think there is the misconception that the only fans of tournament paintball are tournament players.Non tournament playing fans do exist I'm one of them.So why don't they charge for the grandstands?I would of paid for grandstand seating at Chi-town.It might sound like nickels and dimes in the revenue generating department but it just might bring in more players.Sorry for my ignorance if all this has been done before.

bruce said...

A move away from tournaments as the primary way to compete perhaps. Local leagues run by fields that feed into season tournaments at the end of the year.

The tournaments end up with only the most dedicated and competitive teams. Playing in a tournament should be a big deal, not just the only way to play competitive paintball.

Baca Loco said...

Hey Anon
It's good to see somebody new take an interest. With respect to charging for grandstand seats the PSP has done that for the Chicago and World Cup events in recent years. If they didn't charge this past Chitown that was not the norm. The NPPL has charged for pro field seats for a few years as well.
Last year both Chicago events were held in cooperation with other paintball events; a UWL event at the Badlands and the Living Legends scenario at Challenge Park.
There was a multi-faceted paintball event held in Hawaii last year but I don't know how that worked out. And as for festival type events the NPPL 1.0 tried bringing in bands, etc. The last real festival type event I can recall was in Miami's Centennial Park in 2001 or 2002, I think, and included skatebording, bmx, etc.

Anonymous said...

Hello Baca,

My compliments on your blog. Nicely done.

I used to play tournament paintball, and I definitely fit into Lane's target audience of older, fatter, slower guys he wants to attract back to the events.

I actually read Lane's comments first (thanks to your blog) before knowing what the changes were. After reading his lengthy comments, I became really intrigued. Was proposing some really drastic old school measures, I had hoped. Gasp.. Was he going to bring back 10-man and hyperball?

Then I read your post detailing the changes.. Talk about a big let down. Big whup. Make the fields wider, add some new bunkers and no coaching? WTF.. That's not going to bring me back to tourney ball.. That's absolutely ludicrous if anyone thinks these measures are of any significance.

You know what will bring me back? (Besides bringing back 10-man and hyperball...) Make it so that us small-time players with mid-range guns ($300-$600) can play without being outgunned by morons with $1,500 markers. My wife would absolutely murder me if I spent that much on a marker. Bring back 10-man and 7-man formats. And finally, forget this focus on x-ball. X-ball is just too expensive for us small-time players to afford and too complicated. Age divisions would be nice too. I'd like to play in an old-guy team of 35 and up or something.

Okay, that's my rant. Thanks for edumacating me on recent paintball happenings..

Baca Loco said...

Just you wait, somebody will try to ressurect 10-man and of course the NPPL 3.0 is already running 7-man. And if the NPPL kids are serious about their ROF cap your mid-trange guns are good to go--as they would be for xball.
And there's always UWL (Ultimate Woodsball League.) Google them and see what you think. How do feel about pumps?

Anonymous said...

I just got back into paintball so I am just now learning about pumps. I'm actually trying to fight the incredible urge to buy a CCM pump as we speak. I'd love to get into pumps. I think there's more skill at play using those. I sorta miss the autococker days. At the fields I've been too lately, all I see are these kids with really fast markers who just like to fire as many paintballs as fast as possible with no snapshooting skills and no understanding of the strategy behind the game, which is a shame. Reminds me of tennis and how all these guys now have these super powerful rackets so everything is about the serve and volley. No more long rally where the had to set up their shots.

I left paintball at its heyday when we were even starting to see them on tv. It's really sad how far its fallen. Now, at some fields, there are more airsoft players than paintballers. And that's just disgusting to see..

Reiner Schafer said...

Anon, I agree with your sentiments. Renegade play is on the upswing as players can choose to play with like minded individuals rather than get thrown in with everyone else that shows up at a commercial field. It's sad what many of the commercial rec fields have let themselves become and as a result, we as an industry have missed the boat as far as what paintball could have been.