South Florida eSports is struggling to keep up with gamer demand – we need more leagues, events, and diversity in games.
South Florida is filled with gamers. Wherever you go, you are almost guaranteed to meet people interested in video games. Florida eSports is on the rise and it is becoming just as easy to kick up a conversation with a stranger regarding the latest video game releases as it is discussing the play-offs. Video games are the new entertainment, and they are not only here to stay – they are here to dominate.
A wise man (The Joker, The Dark Knight) once said “If you’re good at something, never do it for free”. So we have a lot of people playing video games, that’s obvious – but what happens if you’re good and want to make some money doing it? Where do you go?
As it stands right now, most worthwhile gaming competitions require a fair amount of travel accommodations to participate because there aren’t many South Florida eSport events. These competitions aren’t as common as they could be. The dates and venues are inconsistent and who’s to say if your game of choice will even be hosted. These travel accommodations can get expensive for a gamer (usually a younger guy, without much disposable income who spends most of his time practicing his/her craft). If you have managed to get out to enough of these events and place among the top tier teams, some companies will sponsor your team and pay for said travel accommodations. These sponsorships usually tend to be short-lived however, as many competitive teams disintegrate without enough consistent events to keep the revenue flowing. Unlike other sports, not all the teams are guaranteed to participate and very few of them will see a dime. In eSports only the best of the best get paid and those paychecks can be unreliable. By having more South Florida eSport events, we allow more players to compete without having to rack up so much in travel expenses.
The proposed solution is to have more community driven events for gamers – A place for gamers to practice, build recognition, and possibly earn some cash.
I personally have hosted tons of different gaming competitions right through this website for months. We hosted events in NBA2k, Call of Duty, FIFA, Super Smash Brothers, Mortal Kombat and many more – all over Miami and Broward. The reality of it is that in order to host these events you need a venue, you need equipment, you need marketing, and you need staff. Venues are insanely expensive in Miami even when renting for just few hours. Don’t forget the costs and risks of providing consoles, games, controllers, and TVs for all participants can get very expensive. All of these things are expenses that need to be covered by revenues.
Here is where it gets discouraging. Generating revenues from local video game competitions is very difficult for several different reasons. The money paid by participants is usually expected as a prize payout for the winning team, or teams. The other option is to provide food and drinks for sale at the venue. Like mentioned earlier, most gamers who have enough time to practice a video game professionally don’t have much disposable income because they are still in school and probably not far along into a career. Even if you manage to sell food, drinks, and some other gaming merchandise it will unlikely be enough to cover the overhead expenses – much less make the endeavor profitable. The reality of it for the gamer is this: Why drive somewhere and spend money to play a game I own, when I can sit at home and comfortably do the same thing without spending any money? In a place like Miami where even taking too deep of a breath could break the bank – this isn’t viable. South Florida eSports is a luxury!
I think this is simply an extension of the internet-social times that we live in. It is far more comfortable to game from home and chat with friends on a headset than to spend extra time and money just to play face to face with others. Face to face interactions are less and less common. You see this with remote jobs, internet-based classes, social media sharing, and of course gaming. Even though the norm is to play remotely – I think there is a certain element that is worth pursuing in local competition. That’s the magical element that competitive eSports can provide.
Some hope lies in the fact that the video game market is maturing. The people who grew up playing Goldeneye on N64, split screen with 4 people – the social gamers – are now the consumers. They are the guys with careers and disposable income. However, these are also the guys with families and commitments. Unfortunately, being a professional gamer is a far cry from what is required of a “grown up”. I believe that as the industry grows so will the opportunities for passionate, more mature gamers to get involved in a meaningful way that can help expand the Florida eSports scene.
The reality of it is that if we want the South Florida eSports scene to blossom, it will require the same sort of investment and structure that is in place for other sports such as basketball, soccer, baseball, and football.
We need places for gamers to meet for practice. We need organized community leagues. We need corporate sponsors who can see the opportunities for growth, and marketing. If Adidas can sponsor a community Basketball league, why can’t Gamestop sponsor an Overwatch competition? This is what is needed for Florida eSports to thrive.
Please let us know your thoughts on the South Florida eSports community in the section below!