Monday, October 29, 2012

Mr. Curious: Behind the Facade

Boys & Girls, Mr. C has hit the jackpot this time around. As I'm sure all of you know World Cup is complete for 2012--having finished up late yesterday afternoon. (An extensive review of the event is coming soon.) What you probably don't know is what was going on behind the scenes of an apparently serene vendors village. Nothing short of a full scale effort to sew discord and paranoia. This story is so big, so absurd and makes everyone involved look so ridiculous that Mr. Curious refuses to use any actual names. First, the manufactured issue: (Industry) Player A and (Industry) Player B warned that the rest of the industry should be afraid, very afraid, of a too powerful PSP (and by association, PBA) lest those entities become so powerful they can *gasp* dictate to the rest of the industry. Players A & B began circulating among the smaller vendors from Day 1 with their fear-mongering (apparently) with the hope of uniting the vendors behind er, them. (Not exactly the Barons of England presenting King John with the Magna Carta.) The effort (apparently) produced some results as members of the paintball industry aren't well known for either wisdom, rectitude or the precise orientation of their moral compass. In other words promise them a shiny bauble and you've got their attention.
What exactly a tournament promoter and a live media production company are supposed to be in a position to "dictate" or control, I'm not sure. The promoter invites industry members (and non-industry members) to sponsor the league in a reciprocal arrangement that ideally benefits both parties. And if the cost of sponsorship doesn't match the potential benefits sponsors don't show up. (And when they show up anyway it isn't because a promoter has them over a barrel it's because they're afraid of the competition getting a leg up if they don't show.) And the media production company is trying to sell advertising during its broadcasts.
On its face the "dictate" claim is nonsense on stilts but here's their argument: a single or dominant promoter can limit access to the paintballing public by refusing a potential sponsor or by pricing their sponsorship in such a way it effectively discriminates against the smaller or newer industry participants. Now this of course assumes the only access the industry has to the marketplace is through a tournament promoter--which is silly too--but let's, for the sake of the argument, accept it for a moment. The only time in memory the PSP has done anything similar is the beginning of this season when they restricted access to a would-be paint vendor. Why did they do that? Because the pre-existing paint vendors practically begged them to claiming they--the paint vendors--couldn't make any money if another vendor was allowed in. That decision cost the PSP thousands of dollars. Btw, one of the instigators [Player A or B] this past weekend was one of the paint companies that asked the PSP not to accept the additional paint sponsor. Are we having fun yet?
Here comes my favorite part; a little background on the Players. One of the Players created a format that at its pinnacle was a closed system, restricted media access, denied player movement and was designed to control the future of competitive paintball as sport and, drum roll please, make ceiling high stacks of cheddar for the few insiders running the show. [As Yoda might say, "The hypocrisy is strong in this one."]
The other Player has a history of helping smaller companies into oblivion while stripping them of their identity and assets and, as a distributor, introduced wholesale pricing through online outlets that undercut their retail customers and decimated the economic foundations of the game.
And the solution (to the foment they generated!) being considered by one of the Players is--wait for it--to buy into the NPPL and ostensibly fund a high quality webcast for them. Now you tell me, does that sound like somebody who wants to "defend" the industry or somebody who wants to compete for the role of "dictator?" What's really going on here is the big Players in this industry are used to calling the shots and this is just the latest round in their private competition to be the dominant Player.


Anonymous said...

Player A: An NPPL exec or Gino from Valken
Player B: Mike Spurlock


Anonymous said...

I had Spurlock as A. Well played sir.

nickgibson said...

I heard mike spurlocks name this weekend for the first time ever

Shane Carter said...

The more competition in the industry, the better it turns out for players, price-wise and product-wise.
Let them spend their money to compete with PSP and PBA, the best league/broadcast will rise to the top, as the players decide who they'll back.
Good luck to them if they want to challenge PSP though, PSP has been dominating tournament paintball, and I don't see them losing their grip anytime soon.

JustAguyWhoWasn't@cup said...

Player A: is GI and Richmond. Remember kids, he created X-ball and the whole buy in franchise system.
Player B: is Kee. In the past they have purchased up numerous smaller companies.

Anonymous said...

Im pretty sure Empire is player B and player A is GI

Reiner Schafer said...

The industry has attracted shady characters for a long time. My money is on Richmond & Gino.

Anonymous said...

Empire and Richmond. It can't be Gino because he's Valken and they were the paint company shut out of PSP, meaning it's Procaps? IDK so confused.

Dan said...

Out of everyone it's two of these three, valken( Gino) gi( Richmond) and/or kee. My money is on gi and kee. Only because valken was shut out of paint sales

Dan said...

Also and I'm nitpicking here because in pretty sure I know what you're getting At, is that foment is a verb and you've used it as a noun. Could you please re-phrase that last parenthesis for clarification...
In all of this could you shed some light on where dye stands in all of this? I can't imagine they want anything to do with the nppl.

Anonymous said...

Richmond/GI and Gino/Valken..

Empire knocked off every product under the sun when Gino ran it, not under current management.

Baca Loco said...

If it works better for you insert 'discord' in the place of that last foment.

In this instance I think it's safe to suggest that Dave (& Dye) are the covert targets of the weekend's paranoia-fest given Dave's stake in all three; PSP, PBA & Dye.

Anonymous said...

So Richmond and Gino are paranoid that Dave is becoming too powerful....

Missy Q said...

GI are advertising on the webcast, have their people commentating on it, and their teams winning in the PSP, so it's not them. It will be Valken for sure, and Kee.
And I don't think the webcast is making anyone more powerful. Especially not Dye. Not unless 'more powerful' and 'less wealthy' are the same thing (they aren't).

Anonymous said...

It's Gino and Richmond. Richmond developed xball to make a ton of money. Gino when he ran Kee bought out a lot of the competition. Richmond was seen at NPPL D.C. which raised some eye brows. Valken has invested heavily in the NPPL so of course they would suggest that people come to the NPPL.

This is just sad. The paintball industry is such a self-destructive industry.

Missy Q said...

I agree that the clues clearly point to RI and GP.
I don't really see the beef from RI though. Strange.

From the 402 said...

Easily Richmond(A) and Gino(B). The description of Richmond's past as the lead player in X-ball was right on target. Further, you must be under 20 if you can't remember how disappointing it was to see the smaller companies (specifically JT, WGP, Halo, etc.), who were at one point(late 90's early 2k's) SOOO dominant, getting eaten up by the KEE machine after it purchased the largest distributors to paintball shops (National Paintball) and retail chain outlets(Brass Eagle). In my opinion Italia was always kind of a little punk bitch, who was WAY better at making money then he ever was ballin', and Gino was just another overweight dirty Jersey slob who liked to intimidate people. They have brought paintball to this wasteland we see today. I hope Youngblood's decision to not sell ten years ago pays off and he makes those guys wipe his fucking ass.

Don Saavedra said...

To paraphrase: "Evil will always triumph because Paintball is dumb."

Anonymous said...

To "From the 402"

Except that Gino was never KEE. KEE didn't exist until after Angelo Gordon bought out Gino. And KEE didn't buy JT or WGP. K2 bought both of them (and K2 had nothing to do with either KEE or Gino).

Reiner Schafer said...

Who was it that had the online retailers undercutting their own customer they were retailing to (Brick & Mortar stores)?

Nick Brockdorff said...

Interesting gossip, but in the long run, inconsequential IMHO.

G.I. and Valken might purchase the NPPL, but in reality, that's like buying a rugby league as a means to get a stake in football.

7 man, as a high level competition, is dead.... it just doesn't know it yet.

So, either way, a continuing NPPL, with whatever principals, will be forced to run a very similar format to the PSP.... which means it will all be about what it SHOULD be about: Quality.

In that competition, the PSP is so far ahead, on organisation, reffing, sponsorships, feeder leagues and media coverage, that it will take a very large investment, over several years, to attempt to compete.... and while that is going on - the players and teams will benefit.

The game and the industry won't benefit.... but it a very different animal that is going to change that part.... which I why I started off calling the rumour inconsequential.

Not enough people are noticing the new venture Laurent has got going - his whole global federation structure.

Some have attempted it before - but never before has it been the person responsible for the game we play today, for inventing what was for a long time the most progressive league in the sport, and for inventing the modern standard for tournament fields.

I believe Laurent will be successful, and that he will (again), completely change how paintball is organised, over the next 5 years.

And in this instance, I belive the US will be last to join up, simply because the proposed federation structure is alien to US sports..... and thus, we might very well see a profound powershift in paintball, in years to come.

Reiner Schafer said...

So Nick, you're suggesting Adreanaline Games will one day rule the world? The plot thickens!

Nick Brockdorff said...

Actually no - believe it or not.... it seems Laurent is in it "for the good of the sport" - meaning that as soon as the framework can run itself, he'll drop the reins.

It is also quite clear, that Adrenaline Games is not involved - it's Laurent personally - the federations structure is his pet project, on the side.

That being said, if he is successful, as I predict, he'll probably be voted in as president anyway..... but I actually think he is one of the few industry principals, who sees that growing the sport as a whole, is more important than fighting over the market that is there, even for his own company.

In fairness though, it has to be said that it's a position which is easier to stick with, when your company has no real competitors in the marketplace ;)

Anyway - 5 years from now, orgnisations like PSP, NPPL and MS, might very well be irrelevant - or at the very least, be at the mercy of a functioning governing body in our sport...... which is why a purchase of the NPPL, might prove just as effective, as peeing your pants to stay warm :)

Eric said...

Well put Nick.

Anonymous said...

From what I've gathered following competitive paintball over the last year, this could be Valken and GI or Empire.

Valken has been doing all sorts of press about the Valken Cup for next year, promising low paint and registration fees as well as great prizes. They were also shut out of PSP and the only paint provider behind NPPL. Makes sense that they want to weaken PSP's dominating role.

GI (or less likey, Empire) would surprise me though. They already benefit from "being in the family" and GI especially has had great success with their paint this year. Would they really bite the hand that feeds them - especially as they dropped their Milsim focus and are expanding their tournament product offerings for next year? They provide the paint for Dye's marquee teams. I'm puzzled at why they would turn on PSP now.

Last, what does this mean for next year? Valken has been putting out promos stating they will be selling paint in the PSP next year. Is this true or just bluster? Also, if Dye is the target of their insurrection, does this make it easier for them to drop GI and bring their own paint to PSP next year? Perhaps fear of decreased sales from Dye's Competition Grade paint is behind GI's involvement? Supposedly both Dye and NPPL were denied the ability to sell paint in the PSP this year no?

Whatever the result, the NPPL is extremely far behind PSP and it will take something out of this world to turn that around.

Nick Brockdorff said...


What you are missing, is that G.I. and DYE are increasingly becoming competitors, which impacts the relationship in a PSP which is largely controlled by DYE.

DYE has added paint to their line, infringing on G.I.'s core business.

Simultaneously, G.I. is pushing goggles, clothing, high end guns, protection.... and I would not be surprised at all to see a G.I. loader in a not too distant future also.

It means 2 things:

You will not be seeing those 2 share teams in the future - at least not high profile teams.

And - which is what this whole story is about - you will also see them butting heads within the different league structures.

Baca Loco said...

Setting the groundwork for your spot in the future federation? :)

Alas, it's gonna require more than a couple of logos and a website.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Certainly not, my playing days are not yet over - but I have always believed in the idea - and been very outspoken about it for many years.... so I fully support Laurent now giving it a go.

And yes, it will require more..... but they have actually gotten quite a few national federations signed up by now, and that process is accelerating itself.... especially in Europe and Asia.

Also, the team ranking system, is making more and more teams push for their local league and/or federation, to sign up.... so I actually think this will work.

Though, it WILL take time - which is why I said 5 years ;)

Anonymous said...

The federation is a load of crap. Unfortunately, it appears to be made necessary by the fact that most world wide governments are a load of crap and need some kind of governing body to represent the industry to them.

Regardless of whatever anyone says. I can guarantee you one thing. Prices will go up for paintball players, emerging companies will have more of an uphill battle (leading to increased prices, and less innovation), and you'll eventually see a handful of bigwigs making money without doing much to benefit the people who are footing the bill.

As Adam Smith observed, "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices."

In contemporary times, you can bet that it's not likely that the "conversations" in question would be specifically about raising prices. But you can be certain what the conversations are leading to, will in fact do so.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Wow, what a bleak outlook :D

Well, for one thing, a federation brings legitimacy.

Legitimacy brings money

- Either by direct government subsidies (for all us socialist bastards over in Europe) - or by advertisers being more prone to put money into something that seems bonafide (which, for all intends and purposes, paintball does not to most "real" advertisers currently).

Give you an example.... the Polish federation, by its mere existence, is in line for 100,000s of dollars worh of government subsidies.

Now, if you view it as a negative for that kind of money to flow into the sport, in a relatively small market like Poland - be my guest - but I would beg to differ ;)