The topic of conversation is one the eSports community has on a regular basis. ‘Will this game bring in the general audience?’ I believe that very game has been under our nose since 2015; Rocket League.
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Since the early 90’s, eSports has grown from it’s simple embryonic state. Hosting LAN tournaments during QuakeCon to presently having League of Legends host tournaments. Riot Games continues to see viewership from upwards to 43 million people worldwide. Unfortunately, there seems to be a ceiling for success.
Almost every game franchise in the eSports community struggles with opening up their doors to people outside their community. It usually boils down to a combination of three major constants; barriers to entry, exposure, and community engagement. Since release, Rocket League has been on a steady coarse of remedying all three of those key points.
If Rocket League found its way onto mainstream media. I’m willing to be by the end of the five minute game they would be able to begin to comprehend the fundamentals that go into a match. The game for the most part is very self explanatory with little to no hand holding.
Rocket League took the core concept of games like Basketball, Soccer, and Hockey and shortened the player count to four. The foundation of those games still remain. Each team must get the ball in the opposing team’s net. From that point on, you can dive into what goes into the offensive and defensive plays from each team. Will a team use two offensive players, a defense and goalie? Will they opt to use brute force and forfeit their defensive player?
A viewer with no investment in video games can watch a player with full boost drive into a car to take out an enemy player and not have to question why that would happen. There are no special move sets and no character advantages. Every player in the game has the same tool kit albeit a few cosmetic changes.
A major concern of mine is the the ability to onboard an audience with the concept that RC cars are playing the game instead of actual players. However, once you get accustomed to seeing small cars bounce a ball around the basics of the game are pretty cut and dry.
Psyonix has already begun carving out its path to reaching a larger audience. Back in May of this year, WWE and Psyonix announced their partnership that would put Rocket League as their promotional partner. This would play into two pay-per-view matches, as well as WWE’s biggest summer event, SummerSlam.
WWE has a worldwide reach in 600 million households worldwide. Those numbers won’t correlate to guaranteed audience members to the next Rocket League Invitational. Instead, it does get the ball rolling on the conversation. Whether Rocket League is here for another two year’s, or Rocket League 2 comes in 2019 it will take some support to gain exposure. With more corporate sponsorships in play, Rocket League would be seen as a major draw to audiences.
I don’t think that every game should become a staple in the home. However, I do believe Rocket League has that secret sauce. Corporate partners can easily see the growing fanbase and goodwill put into the platform that it is something to endorse.
We are in a place where a new potential eSports title pops up every few months. Some titles are an overnight success, while others fade away into obscurity. A major factor of this is building a sustainable community. Many games release updates and patches based on the developers vision.
Rocket League was first released as a PlayStation Plus title. Giving every PS Plus user free access to the game. Since that time, Psyonix has read message boards, social media and other community outlets to focus on what the player base wants to see. A game without community awareness is less likely to hold a players attention let alone be attractive for viewership.
I’ve always feared that when something blows up it can end up poisoning the well. Psyonix built their success from Rocket League by constantly improving the game. Their continued efforts made possible without diluting the game of what made it a critical darling in the first place.
Having a heathy community only benefits the game in question. A toxic environment will never pull in an outside audience. An ever-growing landscape means that a fresh audience can jump in at any point and still take just as much away from it as day-one fans.
The Rocket League IP has the potential to be the game that could draw in a audience unfamiliar with eSports. A mix between a competitive landscape with just enough absurdity to make it something unique. Rocket League was built for easy access by both the player and spectating audience. Continued support by the community and external parties could prove Rocket League as the breakout star in the eSports industry.
I’d love to hear what you think about Rocket League and what game could break down the barriers for eSports. For more Rocket League coverage keep your eyes peeled on Inside WorldGaming.