There is no denying that accessing esports either as a viewer or as a potential competitor is exceedingly easy. With nothing more than a computer/smartphone and an internet connection, anyone can join the community of a particular game. For many esports, there is not even the initial barrier of having to buy the actual game. Some heavyweights of the esports field are F2P titles and the influx of players shows that audiences like that deal.
It is clear that the accessibility level for players of esports is miles ahead of even the most popular sports such as soccer or basketball. A person does not even have to leave their home to participate in esports. This is also one of the key reasons why the difference in popularity between the two is steadily shrinking. However, some are now certain that this accessibility could provide the esports domain with a constantly rising level of popularity. Is that really the case?
Tuning in, Playing, Competing
In a recent interview with CNN, Carlos Rodriguez, a former pro LoL player stated that accessibility is providing esports with an advantage compared to traditional sports. He is also certain that the low barrier to entry will give esports a growth edge. Yet, there are a couple of issues with this idea.
A huge range of sports can be watched online, and most sports are transitioning to online broadcasts while attempting to keep hold of their television audience. Esports typically make money from viewers through ad revenue and aren't paid subscription based. NBA League Pass, for example, costs $250 USD per year. Essentially, traditional sports are diversifying their appeal, while they know that senior fans of the NFL will continue to watch their content on TV. At the same time, traditional sports have their monetization mechanisms set in place. The entire esports field is trying to figure out how their broadcasts can do the same. Thanks to this, arguing that esports have a much larger level of broadcast accessibility does not ring true.
Competitors, on the other hand, do have a much easier path ahead of them if they want to play professionally. No one can decide to become an NBA phenom when they are 25-years-old and never played basketball before. This is not true for esports. The same person could potentially stand a chance of going pro, or at least have an infinitely larger chance than becoming an NBA star. But, does that mean that all players want to become pros? The experience of the previous decade clearly shows that this is not the case.
Competitive Drive or the Lack of it
In any professional sport, electronic or otherwise, the drive to compete at the top level is rare. All kids play some type of sport, but just a handful go on to become professionals. The same is valid for esports. Most kids play video games, but only a tiny number of those will have the drive and desire to go pro. The growth of esports will lead to more kids attempting to become pros, but the number will still be small. No amount of accessibility can change this basic personality trait.
Accessibility as a Component to Growth
Rodriguez is right when he says that accessibility is important in esports. But, it must be said that believing it alone will make esports continue to grow over the coming years is wishful thinking. Accessibility is just one of the components that are needed to be in place for esports to continue this level of development.