How Does Professional Gaming Work?

Last night MTV (of all channels) had an interesting special about pro gamers on. Two things caught my eye:

  1. Teams of 6 people are competing for prize purses that are ludicrously small… $10,000 or something like that, in an international tournament that requires that most teams shell out $1000+ for airfare. These kids’ idea of “making a living” and mine differ greatly.

  2. Even given the small purse above, I have absolutely zero clue how the pro gaming leagues (and in some cases the sponsors) actually make money in the endeavor. Where does the money come from to often up a total $20,000 or so purse for people to play video games against one another? Is subsidation by the game maker/hardware manufacturers doing it? Do they see enough return on this type of investment in terms of increased sales to justify it? The purses don’t seem large enough for the player to make a living, much less for their agents who sign them to their pro contracts.

Anyone have any idea how this works? It was an interesting special, but I found myself simultaneously intrigued at the idea of playing (non-gambling) games for a living, and appalled that the 16-18 year olds featured felt like making 20-40k a year was a sufficient return on their life investment to put in 11 hours a day and forsake things like higher education.

Anyone seen more journalistic pieces on pro gaming?

I’d have to guess they get endorsements and ad dollars?

I mean, how do 20 guys driving as fast as they can in a circle make money?

Ok ok, some ‘people’ will watch races, but there isnt any way all that money comes from racing fan tickets or showing them on tv.

I can’t wait until someone starts to think people want to watch gaming tourneys, because the marketing sizzle in the commercials will be HILARIOUSLY BAD. And then peple will get into it anyways and I’ll feel ashamed for mankind once again, but whattyagonnado?

I thought much of the individual money from Nascar came from direct driver->sponsor endorsements for visibility and then the cup money came from NASCAR (the organization) profits from merchandising and such.

I just don’t see much of that in the PC Gaming arena barring the Fatal1ty products and the like. I suppose the pro gaming leagues may be blowing seed money in an attempt to jump-start the process or such. But my impression wasn’t that Nascar provided the vast bulk of the profits for the drivers, but I got the impression from what I saw last night that the vast bulk of the money for the players in pro gaming does come from the league organization bodies. Maybe that’s wrong.

Phase 1 - Gaming
Phase 2 - ???
Phase 3 - Profit

Well, according to the show I watched last night, at least for one of the people followed, Phase 2 was:

Ignore your hot 17 year old girlfriend (despite being an 18 year old boy) in order to play Halo 2 for 12 hours straight with your buddies. Even when she’s sacked out on your bed.

Some prices are just too damn high, no matter the amount of fame involved!

I don’t know anything about professional gaming except that one of the best professional gamers is a 30-ish man who insists on being known as “Fatal1ty.”

That’s where my interest in this enterprise ends. That kind of thing is in the same brain-damaged high orbit of horror as 30-ish men who cosplay teenage anime characters, or 30-ish men who deploy unorthodox measures to keep their teddy bears moist.

Check out South Korea. They have televised tournaments and much bigger prizes. Starcraft players are celebrities there – no joke. If you poll random people on the street, you’ll find a ridiculously high percentage of them have played Starcraft – males and females. It’s like another dimension. The top few players are pulling in more than 500k a year.

Found a link: http://geartest.com/sections/games/professional_gamer.html

There, it’s like watching sports. Monday night starcraft and all that.

Computer gaming is such a part of mainstream South Korean culture that there are two television channels dedicated to broadcasting StarCraft games 24 hours a day

The rankings for StarCraft are posted right next to the academic results in South Korean schools

It’s like an episode of the twightlight zone where the whole world plays Starcraft!

“Supermodels play StarCraft. My girlfriend is a supermodel and she and her friends all play games.”

Is it wrong for me to feel sad right now?

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME SHOOT CLUB?
A hundred megabit… PARTY!

We got Thresh and Fata1ity…
Combat in Virtual Reality!

The stakes are always big,
Better overclock your rig!

The Orcs all say, “Zug, zug!”
Cause all my nerdy friends are here for Shoot Club!

[Two awesome LCD monitors crash in a fireworks explosion]

Yes, but that’s because Starcraft is actually a secret South Korean government conspiracy to identify the best possible people to foresee and defend against a North Korean Zerg rush.

There is an entrance fee to participate in a league such as the CPL. Then, as many have mentioned, there are numerous sponsor endorsements both to the league and the participating teams.

Naturally, since the cash prize for one tournament is far too little, you have to participate in many of them yearly and win most of them to have a “decent” salary, which will still be nowhere close to other established professional sports salary.

If “Fatal1ty” is making around $200,000 and he’s easily the best player, think about how much money others in the top 100 are making? Probably a lot less since they are mostly unknown to the public. There’s a long way to go before anyone but those known unanimously by the gaming world will be able to make a living off “professional” gaming.

By the way, I am glad that Fatal1ty finds his work “fun,” because I’ve seen a lot of cal-i clans quit the game because they have found their game was too much like work (playing it every day, all the time, being stressed out? not fun).

I’ve read that the idea behind these leagues is that they’re assuming pro-gaming will become a big spectator sport in the future. They want to be the next NFL, now when there is still a chance.

They shoot horses dont they?

If you do something you like to do for fun, then it’s a hobby.
The minute you decide to make money at it, it becomes work.
Work usually isn’t fun,even if it is, having to be very very good at it to make money it becomes no fun.

I’m finding that teaching world history for money is more fun than just annoying my wife with little known facts for nothing.

Troy

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, America’s Army!

I’m finding that teaching world history for money is more fun than just annoying my wife with little known facts for nothing.

Troy[/quote]
That’s a bit disturbing. Are you sure that you have the sadism necessary to advance in academia?

I think the comment about once your hobby becomes your profession, it becomes WORK sums it all up for me.

The hill to climb in all of these endeavors is huge. For the 25 or so well-off NASCAR drivers, there are hundreds and hundreds of great drivers racing on weekends on all sorts of lower level series with a dream of driving on the big circuit. Many are putting up big bucks to buy/maintain their own racecars. Same with all the minor league baseball players, bullriders, semipro football players, etc etc.

Of course, as a spectator, I’d much rather watch dang near anything than a TV show about a computer game.