Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What Have We Done To Our Game? Part Two of Five

The Rate of Fire Disaster

“Reason Two” – the Bullets

  1. Paintball guns fired less than one ball per second in the early 1980s.
  2. 1985 signified the beginning of a new age in paintball.
  3. The Phantom and Bushmaster, both cocking guns, dominated playing fields nationwide.
  4. The semiauto was introduced, yet the game remained largely the same.
  5. The jump from semiauto to electronic markers created a “haves” and have nots” situation.
  6. Field owners were unsure how to handle mixed groups of semi and electro players and in most cases they threw them together.
  7. New players were now getting bunkered by players shooting 10-plus balls per second.
  8. How fast is too fast?

Setting the Scene

So I think it’s safe to say that most of you figured out that I’m not blaming the downturn in paintball completely on the field owner and industry’s infatuation on the arena (a/k/a airball, Hyperball, etc.) style game play. That’s definitely a very big part of it in my opinion, but it’s clearly not the only reason the game is shrinking nationwide. Reason number two for the shrinking number of players nationwide also has a lot to do with the speed of the game that is currently played. But again, I’m going to go back in time a bit to set the stage.

The first marker used in paintball back in June of 1981 was the Nelspot 707, which slightly predated the Nelspot 007 (despite what some others would tell you). Both the 707 and the 007 literally used a bolt sticking out of the side of the gun to do the cocking. There was no gravity feed system and the feed tube held ten rounds. The term “rate of fire” was never used at paintball fields back then because you would be measuring the ROF in balls per minute, not balls per second—literally. Imagine crawling around a thirty acre paintball field. When you finally found someone to shoot at, you had one shot, or two, if you’re really lucky. Everyone that played in the early to mid-80s knew that better, faster and higher performance guns were coming. It was just a matter of time.

By 1985, the first year I played, the National Survival Game introduced the Splatmaster, the first gun made specifically for paintball (not for marking cattle of trees for excavating) and water-based paintballs were replaced with oil-based paint. These two things are significant because they caused everything to change. The first four years of paintball was played with Nelspots and oil-based paintballs. There were virtually no equipment innovations—unless you count Ken Muffler’s cardboard pump-handle modification to the Nelspot that he debuted in November of 1983. Then in 1986 Gramps and Grizzly, a father and son duo, discovered constant air which slowly put an end to using 12 gram C02 cartridges.

Enter Dennis Tippmann and his SMG-60 in 1987. The “Smig,” as it was referred to back then, was the first fully automatic paintball gun. It was astonishing for its day but it was definitely not without flaws. One quick pull of the trigger fed five round “clips. One pull and it was time to load another clip. Later that year the Line SI Bushmaster and the Component Concepts Phantom were introduced to the paintball playing public. Although both were pump-style markers, they were very high performance and these two guns dominated playing fields nationwide until the end of the decade.

The continued advancement of paintball equipment clearly made the game better in many ways. Markers were more reliable, more accurate, easier to use, and in general, more fun to play with. And as the guns were able to put out more firepower, paintball prices were dropping—and that’s never a bad thing.

1989: Out with the Old, in with the New School

In 1988 Glenn Palmer was working on a semiauto/auto-cocking marker that would later in 1989 hit the market under the name the Hurricane. Then came the Autococker, the Automag and a host of other semiautomatic markers. All were capable of shooting 7-9 balls per second. Amazingly the extra firepower afforded by the semiautos didn’t really change the game tactically all that much. Most games were still being played on large wooded fields (both in tournaments and rec play) and as we moved into the early 1990s most everyone was shooting guns of about the same quality. For several years there were no real innovations—except for the introduction of the VL-2000, the first electronic hopper hit the market. For those not playing at the time, the VL-2000 was the first commercial electronic hopper and the first commercial hopper that did not rely on gravity for feeding.

And Then It Happened

By the mid-1990s Smart Parts introduced their Shocker electronic marker and within a few years a major change happened in paintball. For the first time ever the game was divided by the equipment players were using. The “haves” were shooting Shockers, Angels and other electronic paint throwers and the “have nots” were shooting blowback semiautos. Field owners had no idea how to handle this. Most fields didn’t have enough customers to divide their games up by equipment or skill level, so once again new players and the “have nots” were thrown to the wolves. Smaller fields (covered in Part One) and faster guns are a bad mix for new players. Yet the game’s numbers continued to grow—for a while. Despite the disparity in the marker firepower, at least most games played recreationally were still played in the woods. Smaller woods fields but woods, nonetheless.

There was another down side to the introduction of the electronic marker. Tom Cole, captain/owner of Bad Company and exec at Spyder also pointed out to me today, “I think the jump from pump to semi was good for the game. More people could play and compete. But the jump from semi to electronic was a different story. The cost of a day’s paint went up (because of the volume used) and because players have a cap as to what they will pay for a day of play, margins for the store and manufacturer came down.” This is a significant issue. Field and store owners were now forced to work with much lower profit margins and things like customer service and overall business quality and ethics began to slip. Slowly we were losing players.

Bring the Pain

Now by the mid-2000s there is still no solution as to how to handle the players shooting Tippmans and Spyders as opposed to those shooting Intimidators and Shockers. Fields continued to shrink and move towards arena settings and guns were getting faster and faster. Let me say at this point that I don’t think anyone is to blame here. It’s difficult to make an argument against bettering technology, and it’s equally difficult to place blame on field owners for not separating the gun types in walk-on games—the number of players at most fields doesn’t allow that to happen. As the saying goes, “It is what it is.”

In Part One of this series I said, “Instead of playing half hour paintball games in the woods, where players could crawl, hide, or otherwise stay in the game long enough to learn how to play and feel they got their money’s worth, now players were playing two-minute games, often getting bunkered by much more experienced players game in and game out, day in and day out.” Now factor in that most new players that were “getting bunkered” were getting bunkered by someone shooting 10-plus balls per second. Instead of going home with a few welts, kids were leaving the field covered with bruises. Not good for them and definitely not good for their parents to see.

Even players at the highest level of the game have been complaining about the rate of fire. So much so that all three major paintball leagues have lowered their rate of fire maximums and/or are considering doing it now. We’ve no doubt reached a point where the rate of fire not only takes away from the game’s movement and strategy, it’s painful. It’s also not fun to watch. Shooting in full-auto at 13.33 balls per second gives spectators the feeling that the game can be played at the highest level by anyone. It also slows down the movement of the game to a point of being boring.

Rich Telford of XSV told me, "I think that it [increasing rate of fire] has hurt if not crippled the amount of players coming into and staying in the sport. It has also increased the use of paint which further keeps people from playing. I think that anyone can sit in a spot and stair at a gap between two bunkers while holding a trigger down--you don’t have to be good at paintball to do that."

Fans and spectators drive sports—all of them. If the game is boring to watch and painful to play, what are we doing?

How fast is too fast? Isn’t that the question? Here’s the answer: When the game becomes boring to watch and games regularly stalemate, we’ve reached the “too fast” point. When new players are consistently outgunned, we’ve reached the “too fast” point. When your gun fires so fast that you can’t afford the paint, we’ve reached the “too fast” point. Maybe manufacturers should consider not making guns that are capable of shooting 30 balls per second. Maybe field owners shouldn’t allow ramping guns in walk on games (some are doing this already). Maybe players should try to “play” the game rather than “spray” all game.

Doing It Right

Again, there’s something for each of us to do in this.

Field Owners

You need more players to make a living and you need more players to run your games in the most effective way you can for your customers. Like I said in Part One of this series, if your business if failing look at the ones that are thriving. What are they doing to attract more players? Maybe you should consider not having electronic gun rental upgrades. Many fields offer Tippmanns or Spyders as rentals and also offer Egos and Angels as up-sell rentals. So you’re making a few extra bucks up-selling your rentals so your Tippmann-shooting walk-ons can get shot up all day. Does that really make sense? This is just one example of thinking outside of the box. I once heard an expression that I’m not sure who originated, but it’s one I like. “If it ain’t broke, break it and make it better.” Don’t be satisfied with “good enough.”

Store Owners

Are we trying to sell the most high-tech guns available or are we trying to make our players/customers happy? Find out where your customers are playing and advise them to purchase gear and equipment that suits their playing style best.

Manufacturers

You’re holding almost ALL of the cards here. You make the gear and you sponsor the events. Sometimes it just appears all that matters to you is how to make it lighter, smaller, and faster. But is that good for the game? If you’re not happy about the rate of fire the league or event you sponsor uses, ask them to change it. You have influence—probably more than you realize. But to use your influence you have to have a plan and a big picture. Do you know where the game is headed? Is that direction okay with you?

Players

I have the same suggestion for you that I had in Part One. You are our ambassadors. Teach new players how to play the game instead of having them thrown to the wolves. Play games with at least fairly equal competition. There’s really not a lot to be excited about shooting a ten-year old kid with a Spyder when you’re shooting an Ego. You probably have your used Spyder in a closet. Enjoy a game or two with that gun again.

Friday will have Part Three of this series entitled, “What Happened to the Economy?” Please come back. Thanks for reading—John Amodea


34 comments:

Anonymous said...

another enjoyable column. keep it up!

Furby said...

Well done, sir. You and I disagree on your points, but I'll respectfully disagree with you.

John Amodea said...

Which points Furby?

Anonymous said...

There is an easy solution to the "feeding new player to the wolfes" problem. Help them. If your at the feild, approch someone whos struggling and give them afew tips or play a game with them. It will make a huge difference expecially to younger players.

Anonymous said...

three more, can we just move to your view as to the solution?

John Amodea said...

Anon, we're getting there....

Anonymous said...

Not sure if Furby was thinking what I am, but I am going to guess we might be close, first off I started playing right after you, '88 and like you have stated not much happened before then.
First point it is what it is, the industry and the players got it to this point. Second, no one, not you or anyone couldn't have stopped it. Because you needed to write this in 1999 and say wow electronics guns are cool and all but no cheats, no ramping etc.
From then till now, the faster you could shoot, the more you could cheat, the better you where the better the gun was etc.
This whole sport as it grew got tagged as a extreme sport and to me a player of over 20 years it never was. It was a fringe sport sure, it was the biggest rush I have had not exceeding the speed limit.
But there never was any danger, or there never should have been, until ramping and over shooting and huge egos with child like tempers got promoted in the game.
What you have wrote is true, but there is so much more to it. And you where there for it just like I was, when we had bolt action we wanted pumps, when we had pumps we wanted more or bigger hoppers, then we wanted semi's, then we needed the first electronic innovation the electronic hopper which then, lead to Electronic guns, better force feed hoppers, cheater boards, and instead of stopping the arms race, they accepted it, and allowed a portion of it because no one could control it.
So here we sit.

It was going to happen anyway, sure the economy has something o do with it. But we needed to get here to step back and make it a game again.

John Amodea said...

Anon, still three parts to go...

Anonymous said...

We had a rate of fire war between gun makers. At one time there was a strong feeling that 10 bps should be the top rate of fire. The gun makers agreed to it. I was at that meeting. It lasted about 1 month. Each high-end gun maker was planning to break the agreement for competitive advantage. They were just trying to hold each other back by agreeing. Some had patents or products which they thought would give them an advantage if high rate of fire was desirable.

Reiner said...

I look forward to see what your proposal for a solution will be. We have already solved the problem at our field. But there may be more than one way to skin the cat.

I spend much time communicating with other fieldowners and of course much of the discussion concerns fixing the ongoing problem of dwindling numbers (not at our field but at most others). Various things are being tried and experimented with but I have yet to see another solution as successful. I look forward to reading the rest of the series. Good job.

Crotchety Old Fan said...

Just a couple of historical notes, John:

as some pointed out, something should have been said 'back in the day'.

I'd like to remind them all that things WERE said. Arguments were had, rules were adopted, people stopped playing in protest.

But none of that was strong enough to counter the avalanche of 'shoot more paint/make more money' thinking.

And, of course you may be mentioning it in a later piece, but I think the intro of the 150 & under marker and package contributed as much as anything else to the equation. If tournament ball had remained the 300 to 500 people around the country, it would have been much easier to come to a consensus that the tech was changing the game beyond the point we all wished to go. But that just wasn't possible with the THOUSANDS that would his the tournament scene as a result of the lower cost of entry.

Anonymous said...

Great points John. I think one of the things missing from all of this though is the loss of revenue to stores that came from the introduction of the electro age. In the days of the semi-autos. Stores made a lot of their money from their "airsmithing" abilities. Stores were known for their autococker trigger jobs, or for their automag porting. Sure there is still a need for gun teching with new guns, but its not the same. Having been a store owner for ten years and working in stores prior to that, I saw and personally experienced that loss. Manufactures do so much to their guns right out of the box, its hard to do much more to them. Besides the countless copy cat upgrade bolts or boards, there really isnt much a store can do to make both, extra money and a name for themselves. Stores back in the day competed by trying to provide the best customer service and the best quality "airsmithing". The new guns really don't provide much of an ability to go that route. Just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

P.S..

This of course made stores all become the same in a sense (just a place to buy your stuff) and so the only way to compete with eacother was to have the best price. There really isnt much of a mark up in most guns, and without anything to sell them later, your stuck with just paint and air sales. Some highend guns you "CAN" make decent money if your customer is ok with not shopping the web, but across the board, its not very good....
ok, now Im done...haha

Reiner said...

The above is very true. As higher end markers all become much the same (all fast enough and all reliable), there is really not a lot that sets stores apart. Anyone contemplating these days to open a paintball store should do so with the greatest of caution and be prepared for a rough ride. Customer service is great and some customers will be swayed by it. However most will look at price first and customer service second. This is especially true considering the demographics of our participants.

Unfortunately, closing of brick and mortar stores, as well as fields, doesn't help the continueing collapse of the industry. Stores and fields are the frontline of our industry. Without stores and fields promoting paintball locally, the industry will suffer even more.

On a side note, I'm a fan of the PSP's look at dropping down to 8 bps for their lower division play. It's another step in the right direction (lots more to go). It's unfortunate that we needed to hit bottom before those with some power would actually try to change things to reverse the trends.

Mick said...

"#6 Field owners were unsure how to handle mixed groups of semi and electro players and in most cases they threw them together."

That is the most telling of all your points. Shame on the field owners who could not figure this one out. I ruffled a few feathers (the key words here being "a few") when I basically turned my back on tournaments and tournament wannabees.

When I first opened in 95 I actually banned autocockers and automags because they were "just to damn scary". It progressed to electronic guns until I figured it out. Bring any gun you want but if I hear more than three shots without a healthy pause before firing again the player is politely reminded of my THREE SHOT RULE. (And any field that does not adhere to the 20 foot rule is crazy!)

No need for restricting guns. No need to go to gravity hoppers. No need to not sell high end items at the pro-shop.

Just, as I mentioned, a few ruffled feathers who found there way to another field where they turn players loose on their church groups and allow bunker tags.

Rant over. I feel better.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Nick, keep a shot limit to even the playing field. I recently bought my first electro. This was after being out of the sport for quite some time. I came back in and wanted a lower priced reliable gun that was lighter than my mag and cocker that I held on to for sentimental reasons.
I now use a mini when I play but I am very aware of the caliber of players I am up against and use the gun accordingly. I would never unload the guns full speed potential on a walk on group that had never played before. I slow way down and will even call myself out on the bounces I receive to keep the newer folks feeling competitive. I did this when I was younger too. I played tournament ball and getting that aggressive during a day of casual rec play was never my thing. My rule has always been to play to the ability of the folks around me or slightly above, just to keep a little bit of a challenge in the game and never, ever, ramp.
Remember, the problem today isn't the potential speed of the marker it is the attitude of the user behind the trigger.
~Kurt

John Amodea said...

Hey all, I really appreciate the dialog and suggestions (and input). I'm optimistic that these are all issues that can be addressed on a larger scale going forward. Also, thanks for flooding my inbox. The more opinions and suggestions I can gather, the better chance of making some of this a reality we'll have.

Reiner said...

"Remember, the problem today isn't the potential speed of the marker it is the attitude of the user behind the trigger.
~Kurt"
That's the key isn't it? We will never reverse technology. And I dare say, it is very difficult to get everyone to "want" to play nice, reduce the ROF and all that good stuff.

Why do you suppose professional sports leagues fine players when they misbehave? Why do you suppose police fine people when they disobey traffic laws? Why do you think judges fine people when they commit white collar crimes? It's because when people's actions affect their wallets and bank accounts, they tend to adjust their actions. Athletes think twice about purposely hurting an oponant, Drivers ease up on the gas peddle. Employees think twice about embezzling.

There is only one real way you are going to adjust paintball players' attitudes and actions. Everything else is just wishful thinking.

KenF said...

The problem is not about the tournament players. I could careless what rate of fire the tourney players used IF it did not effect the other 95% of the players.


The fact is that the tournament scene leads the rest of the industry. The tournament scene must do what is best for the rest of the industry, not just what a few tournament players want

Mick said...

Sorry for slipping off topic, but...

Reiner, you reminded me of something I preached constantly while participating in tournaments (something I forgot because I gave up a long time ago). In baseball you do not go into second with your spikes up and you get up in the ump's face at your own risk. In hockey you sit for high sticking. In NASCAR if your car is set up to cheat you are fined. In football there is a correct way to tackle.

There is a right way a bunker move should be made (hit your opponent above the shirt collar and you are eliminated for starters). Why do we allow technology on the field that can't effectively be checked for cheating. Why do we stand for the rude and inappropriate actions of players on the field?

Rhetorical questions of course.

Except, maybe this one:

How can we call anyone playing paintball a "Pro" when we are still playing a reckless, grade school, sandlot version of what the game could be?

John, I'm still with you! Three to go.

PoePoe said...

I am glad that someone has spoke up about the problems we have been having for years. I started playing in 96 at the age of ten. and yes I eventually fell into the faster is better. But I have since seen the error of my ways. I find it difficult to relate now to this new bread of paintballer, they don't understand how to play the sport anymore. I coach a young team of tournement players and have spent the last year teaching 6 kids all the basics and these are kids who had already played for 3 years. As far as they were concerned shooting fast was enough to win and the sooner kids coming into the sport realize that it is so much more than that the better off the sport will be.

Anonymous said...

To quote Reiner"There is only one real way you are going to adjust paintball players' attitudes and actions. Everything else is just wishful thinking."

The sad part is, for someone to change their attitude they must desire that change. Unfortunately the attitude of today's player existed back when I started playing (Early 90s) but is much more prominent today. I hope we can turn the sport around. It is, after all, a game. Why waste time cheating or attempting to hurt another player? We should be able to have fun on the field and go out for pizza and beer after we're done not taunt and bad mouth each other.
I'm hoping John's later posts address correcting the attitude issues as well as the technology aspect.
~Kurt

Anonymous said...

I agree with a lot of what you've said, but I'd like to make a few points....

First off, I started playing in '87, at (then) Sat Cong Village. So I remember the "good old days". And I know that time has a way of letting people forget some of the bad stuff in life, but really, the days weren't always so awesome just because of a lesser rate of fire.

Cheating? It happened as much then as it does now. In the woods, nobody looking, not everyone was "honorable". Shooting hot? When the only chrono check was done in the morning before the sun came up on a cold tank, and the only chrono "mark" was a bit of nail polish on the seem between your gun body and your 12 gram changer?

And how about safety? Shop goggles? The sport today is way safer than it was back in the "good old days".

And the mods everyone talks about so fondly. Yes, you could buy an autococker and mod the hell out of it. But a lot of these mods were being done in people's garages. Self made California Style constant air, using the wrong pressure BBQ regs. The first pin valve bottles that didn't have lock-tighted valves, so when you unscrewed them they became missles. Yeah, our sport has issues now, but at least the safety awareness has gone way up.

But the thing I remember the most about the "good old days" is that it was just plain hard to get parts sometimes. And I had it easy. I had Unique Sporting and Skan Line just down the street.

There were plenty of good times, but there were more than a few frustrating ones too.

But as for the issues facing paintball today, a few of them are simply beyond anyone's control. One of the biggest issues is the internet. Before websites and videos and blogs and rumors the only info you got was either through a few magazines, or word of mouth. You went to a tournament and did your smack talking there, and you either put up or shut up. You didn't become a "celebrity" because you could self promote with a flashy website.

#2 is the word "Pro", and the expectations that came with it. TV, salaries, sponsors, exposure. The thought that just because someone became a "Pro" people thought they were the same as other "Pro" athletes. And for a lot of kids, and an even bigger group of a-holes, this was as close as they'd ever get to become a "Pro" anything. With enough money (or the right connections), anyone can be a Pro paintball player. Can the same be said of any other sport? Football? Baseball? All of those you need to have some hella talent.

So I've ranted enough. OK.. here are some solutions. Leave it all alone. Let paintball be what paintball is going to be. It'll never die completely, there are too many of us that love the game. But quit making all these big "plans" on how to grow the game. The industry tried that once and it wasn't ready.

Another, easy solution? The way I get new people into the game is simple. I get a group of like minded friends, and we all invite everyone we can think of. Then I call the local fields until I find one that will ensure us a private game. I let them know exactly how much money we'll be spending. Then we take the new people out and teach them how to have fun.

Over the years, a few have gotten the itch and ventured into walk on play. But they certainly have had the time to see what it's like before they make that decision.

The problems in paintball won't be solved by the manufactures, or steering committees. The problems will only be solved at home.

-Jake

Reiner said...

"So I've ranted enough. OK.. here are some solutions. Leave it all alone. Let paintball be what paintball is going to be. It'll never die completely, there are too many of us that love the game. But quit making all these big "plans" on how to grow the game. The industry tried that once and it wasn't ready."

I agree, sort of. The paintball industry will continue to evole. Evolution in any industry is economy driven. Let the people smart enough to provide what players want prosper. Others will see them propering and will copy. For us to suggest that there is one way that is better than everything else is selling ourselves short. We did that once, promoting one form of paintball that some thought would be better at attracting more players. It's backfired, to some degree. Let free enterprise dictate what will be. As a fieldowner that isn't seeing the declines like most, I don't have a problem with that. Maybe I'm being selfish.

Sam "Professor" Sheng said...

Enjoyable read with lots of nuggets. Again, as I have only experience in paintball as a player I will write on that.

Our team plays at a local field that does its best to divide the teams by numbers of electros/semis/rentals. Oftentimes, when we play walk-on ball, we'll break out our pumps and pistols. If we're shooting semis or electros, we'll keep round discipline top of mind -- three shots, then move. It not only helps to not scare away new players, it helps us become better paintball players. We also do our best to organize and teach new players, so it makes it more enjoyable for us and them, since people move up, flank, cover fire, and so on. Hopefully, all of that helps add to our sport, and if not, I'd certainly love to hear other ways we can do more as players.

Anonymous said...

I also forgot to point out the "cost" argument of the game, does it simply costs more to play now than it did before because of paint compsumption.

I think this may be a wash. Paint is certainly cheaper nowadays than it was back then, but you do shoot more of it in a day.

But what equals everything out is the guns. I can go purchase a refab ION for under $200, and I can compete.

Anyone remember who much a "custom" cocker would cost you back in the day? Anyone remember how much the original Angel V6's cost? Or even more reasonably, I rememeber what I paid for my first gen Timmy, and it was still less than my original Evolution Cocker.

Plus, paintball will alwys be harsly affected by the economy. A football will last you many years. Baseball equipt only needs to be bought once, and you're good. But paintball? You need paint ever time you play.

"Fashion" is what is also killing our sport. What is cool? What sux?

But more so than anything? Airball may be the biggest threat. When we took to the woods in the beginning, for all intents we were playing war. The camo, the crawling, the face paint. And once we left the woods, everything went downhill.

Now you have this sport where kids can crawl in the woods playing army, using real looking weapons, and we're to be thanked for giving them that technology. Plus, getting hit with a 6mm BB doesn't hurt anything near getting whacked with a .68 paintball.

It's true that the paintball industry has a ton of different factors attacking it right now.

Curious. Can anyone point me in the direction of a person or organization that tracks the actual number of spectators to the larger tournaments? Whether paid or not, I just don't want to add in the "fluff" of players already there and their posse's. I want to do a financial and see if national tournaments are even viable.

-Jake

Reiner said...

"I also forgot to point out the "cost" argument of the game, does it simply costs more to play now than it did before because of paint compsumption.

I think this may be a wash. Paint is certainly cheaper nowadays than it was back then, but you do shoot more of it in a day.

But what equals everything out is the guns. I can go purchase a refab ION for under $200, and I can compete."

Prices have come down on equipment and paintballs tremendously. When you factor in inflation (people are making more money today than they did 10 or 15 years ago, the cost to play paintball has decreased in "real" dolloars by a huge amount.

People choose to shoot more paint. People will always buy as much paint as they feel they can afford. It doesn't matter what the price is. If you cut the paint in half again, consumption would probably double again. That's reality.

That's also the problem. Too much paint in the air. Not because of technology alone, but because of price. An extreme example: sell paintballs for $200/case and see how much problem there would be with overshooting and scaring new players away. The problem would be virtually non-existant. That's an extreme example.

At the other end of the extreme examples is selling paintballs at $30/case. See how much problems you have then. Wait!!! That's not an example! That's reality at a lot of rec fields.

Now try to fix it. It ain't easy.

Anonymous said...

I've played off and on since the early nineties. The only thing that ever drives me way is finances. IE. Paint prices.

I wouldn't say it is because of technology either.

Paint used to be around 100 bucks a case, it didn't stop anyone of shooting hella paint, even with a cocker, blowing over a case a day was the norm.

Today, I shoot a NXT, I still shoot about a case and a half of paint. Though cheaper, I still can't stand blowing 50 dollars on a case of paint.

Very rarely will I get some good deals, 25-35(is a good deal to me).

If paint was more affordable ,I would play ALOT more. When I have left over paint I typically play saturday AND sundays.

Everything else seems fine about the game, The field I play at appeals to all types of players, I've noticed no downfall of players.

Anonymous said...

when i started to play screnario games --- honor was a big part of the game --- in the last 5 years -- that honor is lacking in the greatest number of players -- cheating is more rampart --- this takes the fun away from the games -- this more than anyelse takes players away from the game --- the fun needs to equal the dollers invested --- not having fun you dont want to spend the money - tourments and tourment style attitude pushed the cheating into the sport at the rec levels and screnario levels -- the urge to be like the pros !! encouraged pushing the edge on cheating --- this is a major turn off for new players

Anonymous said...

To Quote Reiner:
"That's also the problem. Too much paint in the air. Not because of technology alone, but because of price. An extreme example: sell paintballs for $200/case and see how much problem there would be with overshooting and scaring new players away. The problem would be virtually non-existant. That's an extreme example.

At the other end of the extreme examples is selling paintballs at $30/case. See how much problems you have then. Wait!!! That's not an example! That's reality at a lot of rec fields."

There in lies the issue.
I have always bought a half case for a day's play (big game type situations excluded those were)
I used said half case when I had my VM68, my Cocker, my Mag, my Mini...
My technology never really dictated my rate of fire unless I was up against a similarly outfitted foe. In fact the opposite is kind of true for me since back in the day a half case was 1250 balls not 1000!
I hold to it. We need to change the attitude about balls per second in order to change the sport. Paintball used to be deemed a gentleman's sport. There was honor in how you treated your opponent, calling yourself out when hit, and chrono speeds. Somewhere along the way the larger group of players made it about how well you could cheat and get away with it and make your opponent feel like a failure for losing. There are still players that congratulate players for a great shot and call themselves for a great hit by a newbie even tho it may have bounced. Bring honor back into the game and you will see a rebound in the sport! It looks like you have that honor at your field Reiner! Maybe it is the fact that your pricing structure weeds out the immature player and attracts the seasoned, mature, and thoughtful player. Kudos to you for finding a winning business philosophy!
~Kurt

Anonymous said...

"And you where there for it just like I was, when we had bolt action we wanted pumps, when we had pumps we wanted more or bigger hoppers, then we wanted semi's, then we needed the first electronic innovation the electronic hopper which then, lead to Electronic guns, better force feed hoppers, cheater boards, and instead of stopping the arms race, they accepted it, and allowed a portion of it because no one could control it.
So here we sit.

It was going to happen anyway, sure the economy has something o do with it. But we needed to get here to step back and make it a game again."

well said! couldn't say it any better! I have been in paintball since 1987 and developed a deep passion for it back then. Now, these days I have very little anything for a sport I once love.
We'll see how things turn out, but fewer and fewer people are showing up at the fields.
-Joe

Anonymous said...

Nice Write up. Here in Jackson Wyoming all team players use pumps and the new player can use their electro which makes an equal game. Both players get to improve their skills. We also enforce semi only rules. We have speedball though everyone likes the woods better we are lucky to have 150+ acre field. I enjoyed your writes. Thank you.Rick

esperto96 said...

I remember several years back, reading in a paintball magazine of a tournament event in which the entry fee included the gun you were going to play with for the tournament. Everyone got a Brass Eagle Blade. Yes it was a terrible gun but the article indicated that most of the players said that it was the funnest tournament they had played at in a long time. The rate of fire was down and the playing field leveled.

I have found a trend in the players that have stayed in the game through this decline is that they started like everyone else, with a basic semi auto. They then upgraded to the fasted thing they could find but later returned to a more reasonable rate of fire. Some go as far as going back to pump. Fast doesn't equal fun.

I have also seen that path lead out the door with burned out disgruntled players never coming back as your series has pointed out.

This is actually a great time to be in the sport. We can take these lessons of the past and shape our sport's future in the direction it should have gone in the first place.

James Robertson said...

I've read the whole series to date, and I must say it seams to me that you're writing from a very biased and woodsball-favored perspective. People who play speedball (xball, airball, etc) have all thought of and fixed the problems you mentioned, sure every first timer is scared because "everyone has pro gear" but you quickly learn that you aren't going to get any better if you dont play people who challenge you, and most people accept and welcome that. The reason for the declining numbers is the failing economy, it doesnt matter if you're paying 70/weekend to play speedball or 30/weekend for woodsball, people don't want to spend their money on ANYTHING extra, my local bowling alley has even determined that they are getting only 60% of the customers they were getting last winter. Speedball is not killing this sport, it's providing a more sport-like, tournament, and spectator friendly style of play whilst staying away from the war stereotype and allowing paintball to be more media-friendly, which is helping the sport grow.

-James