Would you ever pay to see professionals play video games?

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With the recent announcement of the big three major Esports organisations – ESL, Dreamhack and MLG eSports – coming together to create one unified promotion, it seems that the future of digital sports is set: gaming is here to stay. On top of this, we have the statistic from MLG, that alone its organisation had nearly 12 million unique viewers throughout the year. That's a big number.

With this in mind, the question we're asking today is: “Would you ever pay to see professionals play video games?”

There are many, many sport fans the world over. Most of them are into Soccer, but there are other huge sports too, like Cricket, Basketball, Hockey, Football, Rugby. There's a common theme there, they're all physical sports and that's what's so interesting about competitive gaming. While there is certainly a physical element to it, in terms of reaction speeds and hand to eye coordination, there's a lot more strategy involved and even then, it's seen as more of a mental game than a physical one. The fact that we have yet to see steroid pumped gamers tells us that.

However physical sports don't dominate everywhere in the world. Take a look at South Korea and you'll see a community of gamers that almost rivals the other major sports in the nation, making Starcraft alone practically the country's national past time.

That and the growth of streaming services within games and the number of pro streams popping up around online, for everything from FPS, to racing to RTS titles, suggests that the interest in watching games is there. We know people do that and enjoy doing so. The question though, is would you pay for a ticket to see it in the flesh, like you might your favourite sports team?

And that's the crux of it. In order to generate the same kind of fandom that professional sports gain, professional gaming will need personalities. The same is true of more traditional sports. Take a look at the MMA organisation, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). A few years ago it was the self-proclaimed, “fastest growing sport in America.” Now it's stagnated a little and the experts put that down to a lack of personality. With some of its biggest names sidelined, retired or injured – save the recent return of GSP – its growth has slowed.

For every sport, there will always be a hardcore audience of people that love the game itself; and that's why they watch it: to see the game played in as close to perfection as can be – better than they themselves could ever achieve. However for the rest of us, it's the personalities and the teams that we follow. We want to feel like we're part of the winning side, by supporting our favourites. And in order for someone or some group to become our favourite, they need to have something we like.

It could be as simple as a clan logo, or a friendly face. Perhaps we love the smack talk from one of the players or the fact that one guy always loses, but does so in a humorous fashion. That's what professional gaming needs.

It's on the way, with certain names being well known within the Starcraft gaming circuit, but for the majority of us there's not enough to connect to yet. Older gamers – or King of Kong fans – will know all about Billy Mitchell and his contemporaries and the first big name earner in terms of professional gaming was Jonathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel, but in the heyday of these guys, no one was paying to see them compete.

Are we there yet? I don't think so. Are we far off? Probably not.

So I ask you Megagames readers, are you willing to pay to see the pros go at it? Or would it take something a bit more for you to shell out your hard earned money? Let us know below.

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Comments

There's already an auidience

There's already an audience. No matter how many people don't like gaming as a profession, fact is there is a great demand for it. Gamers play games because they like games, like footballers or basketballers play those sports because they like them. Some venture into the professional side to it, and those who love eSports will go and watch the best players compete. Would I pay for a ticket at an eSports event? Depends on the game and the players competing. Thing with me is, I wouldn't pay for a football or basketball match..why? Because I have no interest in the sport. It's just preference and millions upon millions of gamers also have that preferance. People can be stereotypical about how a gamer is a no-life or a fat guy in a basement, but the fact is that professional gamers are making big money with millions of fans behind them.

Why would I pay to watch

Why would I pay to watch someone do something I can do myself, with the benefit of a bunch of friends, vodka and pizza to go with it? E-Sports kind of misses the entire point of video games. I'm sure some venture capitalist will lose all their money trying to people to watch this though. Countdown until they start e-sporting FIFA to complete the circle of redundancy.

people WILL pay for this, not

people WILL pay for this, not me maybe not you, but some will because they play the game pro players play, and want to copy and see their moves. people already download their replays (as it is for starcraft and starcraft 2) and yes it is physical, the speed those goons move hands and fingers its insane :P

You cant compare video games

You cant compare video games to actual physical sports, games are anything but physical. Who in their right mind would pay to see some dead beet loser's play games. I try not to spend much to play games my self, and for one would not watch even if you payed me for it, well maybe just to point and laugh at the idiots.

What the fuck do you know

What the fuck do you know about any one that posts here. Maybe I'm just yanking your chain to see how far would you play this game with me or maybe I'm not. I just stated my opinion that I rather enjoy actual sports with people then sit home with no friends and play a fucking game by my self.

As a starcraft 2 player

As a Starcraft 2 player, who made it to the top 3% in the world on ladder ranking, yes I would pay, and support the growth, and popularizing of eports. Because it creates an industry if it gets popular enough, and there is tonnes of work to do. It is already very popular in countries in Europe, and its making a splash in North America too.

Who gives a fucking shit, all

Who gives a fucking shit, all your telling people is how much of none pussying, no job, living in you mothers basement bitch you are. All the things in life to be proud of and this is it for you, get a fucking life, what a loser.... Please do NOT SPAWN any offspring, we don't need anymore like you mooching of the government...

Being one of the top 3% of is

Being one of the top 3% of is nothing to be proud of, and who knows there the top 3% might be in the ranks of 5 mil players. Who's to say that you are telling the truth. It should be called who is the top looser because they need something to compensate for for their shortcomings.

lol

Lies, and top 3% wouldn't mean a thing though, pretty easy to be in the top 300,000 of 10 million players, considering 97% of those 10 million are going to school or work for a living, or both. I'm assuming you're in the other 3% ooh wait, did I just discredit myself, ahh shit.

Do you even know how

Do you even know how distribution and percent is gauged, i'm talking about Masters league percentage which is only roughly 30k players GLOBALLY. leagues are gauged individually if you included ALL the leagues i'd probably be top 1% in my peak. Not like you megagames fags mean anything to me, but hey why not put you fuckers down.

Would I pay to watch a match,

Would I pay to watch a match, in person? No, the action is taking place somewhere other than the room where the competitors are in, watching a bunch of people sitting isn't exactly exciting, if they can hear their opponents that'd ruin teamwork and communication, if they can't then whats the point of watching them, there's no trash talking, no taunts, there's nothing but a bunch of guys staring at their screens in silence. Gamers are much more comfortable with live streams and the internet in general than, say, a 50 years old who loves soccer, baskeball and whatnot. A live stream lets me see whats really going on, add the possibility of a guy talking to his opponents and maybe show the competitors faces as they say or hear something and you've got a show. So would I watch a FREE live stream? Maybe, depends on the game. What about a paid live stream? No, I'd rather pay a match myself.

So true, but I don't like to

So true, but I don't like to read comments like this because then i immediately get pissed at Bioware and EA and Activision and Lucasarts(now owned by disney for better or for worse) and Ubisoft but mostly Bioware because I like rpgs they ruined. And then I remember about kickstarter and how Obsidian raised 4mil for new oldschool rpg.

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