Spacestation Gaming is the next major organization to withdraw from competitive PUBG, is it time to start panicking about the future of PUBG Esports?
Depending on the type of person you are, news like this could send you down one of two trains of thought. When learning that Spacestation Gaming, one of PUBG Esports’ most tenured orgs, has decided to walk away and abandon their roster just one season into the pro league format, how should you react?
To be fair, PUBG Esports has yet to conclude their inaugural season and admittedly have learned a lot over the course of the year. Well-received throughout Asia and Europe, the largest markets for competitive PUBG have embraced the pro league, where this sort of announcement isn’t nearly as prevalent. And despite their questionable decision-making regarding the competitive map pool, the hesitation to play “new” Erangel, and a reoccurring lack of transparency with their pro players and fans, the league has appeared to run smoothly on the surface.
However, as another massive figure in the North American pro league decides, it simply isn’t worth it any longer, a spotlight shines on the crippling deficiency surrounding the league’s current structure and inspires the other train of thought. Spacestation Gaming may not have had the results they wanted during Phase 3 of the NPL, but there must be an incentive for teams from top to bottom of the league to remain involved in your eSport. We’re not even talking about Contenders, we’re talking about a top-ten team in the premier PUBG league for North America.
At its core, PUBG Corp. has demonstrated time and time again that they clearly HATE making money. While I say this tongue in cheek, it becomes increasingly frustrating to see vastly more creative and interesting ideas, specifically on weapon skins, being created by the community rather than PUBG. Rarely is the community presented with a skin that they’re excited to purchase, and if it wasn’t for the Twitch Streamer designed skins, the situation would be even direr.
How does this relate to Spacestation Gaming and the issue at hand for PUBG Esports? Well, the biggest decision PUBG could make to instantly improve the appeal for large organizations, is an introduction of revenue sharing. The most common, and I would say the most successful, method of revenue sharing is in the form of weapon skins. Though selling any team and player branded skins on the in-game store for fans would help.
Esport skins for weapons, charms, parachutes, gloves, vehicles, clothing, and literally anything else would sell like hot-cakes in the PUBG store. There is a lack of interesting and new skins, meanwhile, eSports fans are begging for something to support their favorite team in-game. Ideas are being submitted by the community, supported by the players and organizations, but as of writing this, it’s fallen on deaf ears.
For example, listen to this clip of Darren Moore, General Manager of the Susquehanna Soniqs — a current NPL team — on “The Scope with Jabroni” conveying the importance of revenue sharing for a healthy pro league.
Recently, PUBG made their attempt to ‘spread the wealth’ via frying pan skins. Commemorating each of the three teams to have won a PUBG Classic this year, these skins weren’t exactly what fans had in mind. While it’s a start, and I appreciate seeing an eSport item for sale in-game, melee weapon skins will never move the needle in the way a well-designed weapon skin will. I can’t imagine many players want to spend money on an item that’s rarely picked-up, and even when it is, it’s not seen until hovering over a lifeless character on a black and white screen overlay.
Revenue sharing is a major piece of the puzzle, but it isn’t the only thing needed in PUBG Esports. While an opportunity to earn additional income for the organizations is a must, other issues have resurfaced in the wake of Spacestation Gaming’s exit. Such as the lack of communication between the league, it’s organizations and the pro players. This was highlighted following the decision to add Sanhok, PUBG’s smallest and fastest-paced map, to the competitive ruleset mid-season. Additional efforts could be made to advertise the pro league, particularly in-game, with banners and perhaps a “watch live” tab for the players who may not be aware of the pro league schedule.
There is plenty of room for improvement throughout PUBG Esports, and there is still a substantial fanbase hoping that the league succeeds. However, without support from the large organizations, and the fans associated with them, the pro league will eventually fizzle out before even nearing its full potential. Things need to change, and they need to change quickly before another pillar of PUBG Esports decides they’ve lost enough money on a league that’s unwilling to adhere to feedback and assist orgs that have supported it from the beginning.