The word professional gets thrown around a lot in eSports and the fact is that the industry just does not live up to the word. This is not to say that professionalism is not present in eSports, but rather that it is just not out in force. We are a young industry filled with young people, but as is a common problem with youth, it comes with disorganization, rashness, and starry-eyes.
However, the professionalism problem is not just idiots and inexperience though, it is also the lack of people. We are hurting for keystone workers who are specialized in things like accounting, project management, production, general ship-driving and every other behind-the-scenes role.
What results from this lack of professionals is an increased strain on the existing people in the scene. Entrepreneurs are all too familiar with the task of wearing all the hats, but the problem is that the jack-of-all-trades solutions are just not scalable with a business. Eventually you need to hire, or you will either burn out or fail.
Usually this is solved with money and smart recruiting, but eSports faces a unique problem in that we are an unproven industry with no money. Strong and seasoned employees are (understandably) wary of our industry and likely to shy away from us as if we were offering them candy on the street. We could cure this with boatloads of cash, but 99% of us make nothing. Occupy eSports?
Now, I wish this was everything, but let’s compound this with some other points.
- eSports is still relatively small in terms of entertainment eyeballs
- The community is ill-understood and appears to be highly volatile
- The primary channel of communication is new technology that is moving faster than potential large investors can keep up with
- Concrete and demonstrable ROI is difficult to show
- Saturation in events, teams, games, players, and content in general make the industry almost impossible to understand
So, now that we are sufficiently high-level, let’s bring it back down to the issue at hand. ESports needs to get organized, and to do so we need professional talent. Given the instability of our market (outlined above) and the inability to offer proportionate reward to the risk of working with us, how do we bring in that talent? And don’t say passion because it is never that simple.
Well, there are a couple of things we can do as an industry. First and foremost, we need to make the scene translatable into old-man businesstalk. For us, this means a focus on proven dollar metrics like ROI. So if any Finance guys read this: I would like to talk to you about working an ROI model for eSports investment in teams, tournaments, players, and anything else. We need it.
Second, we need to establish lines of communication to major industrial players. Essentially, we need a broker, plain and simple.
Third, we need to monetize. People are afraid of money when it comes to something they get for free. More money in the scene means, inevitably, more business and likely more charges. As unfortunate as that may be, no money means no talent means no eSports.
Finally, we need to reach outside the scene for people. The fact is that we need workers who are not necessarily crazy about eSports to come in. If we stay in the scene we are likely to lose out on great ideas and experience, not to mention fall victim to the great eSports circlejerk.
On a side note, it would also be good to stop all this nonsense about eSports being “the next big thing”. It isn’t, but it can be if we get our shit together soon. 457k concurrent viewers for MLG Spring is a good start, but it just is not going to compete with bigger events for those precious big-biz marketing dollars. We have got to step up our game behind the scenes, not just production and personality, if we are going to be the next big thing.
All this is just a start and one man’s view though, there is so much that needs to be done. So, I would like to open the floor to comments (they have to be approved, blame the SEO spammers) and suggestions about what we can do to grow. Ideas that we here at DMO like, we would love to hook it up and make them happen. If you do not want your idea to be public, email us with the contact form.