Why Rocket League might be the Golden Bird for Esports in India?
I believe that a majority of traditional sport fans have never actually played the sports they watch, but they have a rudimentary knowledge of what is going on; and this knowledge helps fuel viewership.
The issue with some of the biggest esport titles in the world, mainly Dota 2 and League of Legends is that you must play the game to truly understand what is being broadcasted, and with the complex nature of these games it really does isolate viewership only to people who play the game. This isolation to only the players further limits the ability for these titles to grow in viewership, making the opportunity for growth an even steeper uphill battle. Counter Strike : Global offensive on the other hand, though easier to understand faces a unique hurdle which holds the game from realising its full potential. It displays graphic violence. While the ease of understanding the game and the community in India is helping, from a sponsorship perspective the games content will always be holding back the games esport growth. “This killcam brought to you by Pepsi”, while hilarious won’t be happening anytime soon.
CS:GO and Dota 2, currently sit at the top of the esport market in India. But, there exists a little room with a golden opportunity to take esports to even bigger heights. These games, that we have talked about most certainly have helped paved the way for a title to come along and blaze a new trail, and that game just might be Rocket League.
Rocket League was released in the summer of 2015, but in just two years the game has had over 10.5 million players purchase the game across its three available platforms (Xbox, PS4, and PC) with a new port announced for the Nintendo Switch at E3 and expected to release by late 2017. Also, it has more than 29 million registered players with about a fourth of them having played the game in February 2017. To provide comparison, it took Dota 2 two years to reach 12 million players.
Psyonix clearly has a smash hit on its hands and has took home over 100 awards including Sports Game of the Year, Outstanding Achievement in Online Gameplay, and the DICE Sprite Award.
While all those accolades are nice, and the sales plentiful, the real magic in Rocket League is the design and structure of the game itself as an esport title.
The Game is Fast…
Rocket League by design has a limited game clock since it emulates traditional sports. In fact the typical Rocket League match only lasts at maximum 10 minutes (including stoppage time for goal replays, and possible overtime). This is perfect for broadcast commercial breaks while still giving people uninterrupted action.
Sponsorship within the game.
The ability for Psyonix to have banner ad space directly in the game itself is a huge advantage that the other titles can’t actual incorporate. This also allows for them to generate extra revenue to offset broadcast costs.
Every Player is on Equal footing
Rocket League has the same skin customisation options that other games like Dota and CS have, but what’s different here is their approach to the cars. They might look different and it may appear that each car is different but all of them travel the same speeds, have the same boost, and have the same jump capabilities. There are slight differences in the hit boxes for the cars, but for the most part there is no difference between the variety of options. The look is the only real difference. This means that new players are on a level playing field without having to collect all the cars.
It’s more of a sport than any other esport.
Rocket League’s simple emulation of traditional sports with rocket powered cars gives it a tremendous advantage that other games don’t have. There is a soccer map, a basketball map, and even a hockey map, already in the game. Tapping into the audiences preexisting knowledge of the sport not only opens the door for new players to grasp the game quickly, but it also can attract viewership that anyone can understand.
The in-game action is clear, easy to follow, and most certainly it can attract viewership of people who have never actually played the game itself because of its close resemblance to familiar traditional sports.
Couple all this with the business model of purchasing the game, completely ready to play at less than 500 rupees, cosmetic DLC packages, exciting map varieties, cross gaming platform support, a game length format conducive to selling ad time and U rated gameplay. Psyonix may just might be holding the long sustaining esports title the market has been looking for.
The next step for Rocket League in India is a full fledged independent sponsored tournament. Which so happens is right around the corner.
While the prize pool for the community cup in India is extremely small at 7000 Rs in comparison to the gigantic 28 Lakh prize pool each for Counter-Strike Global Offensive and Dota 2 in the ESL India Premiership, India’s largest premium esports tournament. It’s unique in the way, that it’s completely sponsored and supported by the community. Rocket League India’s Community Cup is the first step, that the community is taking for a game still in its infancy in India. For comparison, One of the first Dota 2 Online competitions in India, “Dota 2 The Bounty hunt” saw a prize pool of about 4250 INR.
Rocket League in India is starting out in a similar fashion and with a game that is designed with an esports formula at its core it certainly seems like the game can pull in hundreds of people and give a lot to the gaming community in India.
When asked, what motivates people behind the Rocket League India community cups to keep on upping their game with every succesive tournament. Lakshya Gupta, said “The community has been pretty supportive, which motivates us to hit bigger than we did the last time”. Rahul Poundarik, when asked why the community loves the game so much, said “Rocket League is a game who’s true brilliance will echo in the years to come, we just want to help it get there along the way!”
I myself am a very new addition to the Rocket League Indian community. Seeing the motivation and passion these guys have just to get their favourite video game outside into the cold world that is the generic gaming community in India has inspired me to be patient and stick around. If you wish to keep up with the growing Rocket League scene in India please feel free to join the community on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/RocketLeagueIndia/ and do remember to drop in and say hi. These guys might just surprise you! ❤
How big will the scene for Rocket League in India be in four years? Time will tell, but what we may be looking at right now isn’t just the start of another title in esports. We just might be looking at one of the biggest esport titles yet, and the future of the sport in India certainly looks pretty bright. Till next time.
Rishaabh Vohra, the author of this article is a full time employee of Nodwin Gaming, a organisation which is dedicated to evolve the esports scene in India. He likes to play video games, rant about his love life and occasionally joke around a bit or two.
You can continue the conversation with him on twitter @Baagadbillla