Adam Fitch: Why Valorant esports will eclipse CSGO commercially - Dexerto
Columns

Adam Fitch: Why Valorant esports will eclipse CSGO commercially

Published: 4/Dec/2020 17:42 Updated: 6/Jan/2021 11:57

by Adam Fitch

Share


There have been debates around the potential impending ‘death’ of Valve’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive since Riot Games’ new shooter Valorant surfaced, even before it officially launched in June 2020. While there are no real signs so far that this will be the case, there may be some value in comparing the games in terms of their competitive activities.

While the two can, and likely, will coexist, there’s an interesting contrast to the games’ esports efforts and how their respective developers are handling such scenes. Besides the fact that both games are five-versus-five shooters with in-game economies, there aren’t many similarities — especially on the esports front.

I believe that the way Valorant has been designed, in both its casual and competitive aspects, means it has a higher ceiling for commercial success. Specifically, I believe Valorant esports has all the makings of a title that will be more fruitful for the organizations that invest in it as well as Riot Games themselves.

Valve are notoriously hands-off when it comes to CS:GO esports, only truly getting involved when Major tournaments come around twice a year or when situations like conflicts of interest and coaching bugs arise. They could shut down the competitive side of their game in a major way with no warning and nobody could do anything about it; this doesn’t produce as much trust as having a developer that’s actively looking to improve and grow their scene.

Operation Broken Fang CS:GO
Valve
Valve just launched a new CS:GO Operation, the first in over a year.

While Valorant esports is in its nascent stages, there’s enough evidence to look at now — and a whole other scene in League of Legends to potentially give us a look into the future of the game — so we can finally have this discussion.

Valorant is righting CS:GO’s wrongs

Two of the biggest complaints when it comes to Counter-Strike in esports is the lack of support from developer Valve and the money that’s likely being left on the table through the terrorist theme that’s present. There may be some companies that flock to the game because it’s mature and ‘edgy,’ but that’ll never trump the amount of prospective commercial entities that wouldn’t touch the title with a barge pole.

Whether you think it removes the personality of the game or otherwise, the terrorist themes in Counter-Strike undoubtedly hurt it on a mass scale when it comes to both commercial interest and broadcast viability. Media rights are the biggest revenue stream in many traditional sports but it’s unlikely that this title will ever be able to drink from that well due to its realistic art design and premise, terrorists and counter-terrorists aiming to kill each other, blood, and other elements that are potentially unsettling to people.

Valorant, on the other hand, has been purposefully designed to step around most of those issues. The characters have fantastical powers and designs, the powers themselves aren’t realistic, and there’s no terrorist theme. The shooting aspect of the game could be its only downfall but even that has been toned down dramatically.

There’s a much larger chance of Valorant being shown on television and mainstream digital channels, and this is where media rights deals come into play. We saw League of Legends esports rake in an estimated $113m for Riot Games in August 2020, and that was just for global events such as Worlds and the Mid-Season Invitational to be shown on Bilibili in the Mandarin language. Many more of these deals can be made in LoL and, potentially, Valorant due to their accessibility. CS:GO as it stands would never be able to achieve success on this scale.

Closed vs. open ecosystems

The reputation of League of Legends esports is largely responsible for the influx of investment that Valorant esports received from organizations early on, and it’s running a closed ecosystem. Riot Games have earned a lot of trust from teams, especially those already involved in one of their titles, and that’s for good reason.

Perhaps the most commercially successful esport to date is League of Legends. Housed under the ‘LoL Esports’ banner, it has regional leagues with multi-million dollar buy-ins, no end of sponsor interest, and millions of dedicated viewers.

League of Legends Worlds 2020 Viewership
Yicun Liu/Riot Games
The 2020 World Championship was the most-viewed League of Legends event to date.

With the developer being as involved as they are with Valorant, we’ve every reason to believe that they’ll be looking to replicate the successful model they have deployed in League of Legends over the years. They recently announced the Valorant Champions Tour, in which they’re in complete control, that signals they’re going for a similar but accelerated model for their shooter.

We’re already seeing early signs of LoL’s sponsorship success transferring to Valorant esports. Red Bull and Secretlab are global partners of LoL Esports, Verizon sponsors the North American LCS, and HyperX partnered with European Masters in 2019. They’re all also sponsoring the ongoing Valorant First Strike tournament series.

CS:GO not being under one roof means a prospective sponsor, let’s choose bookmaker Betway as an example, would have to enter three deals to sponsor the entirety of top-tier competition. ESL, Flashpoint, and BLAST all hold competitions including the best teams in the world, and are separate entities. Sponsoring events from all three companies — rather than a single entity — could well be much more costly, require more attention to stay on top of, and it’s unlikely that the three would be happy to have the same activations as they want to stand apart from their peers.

While a closed ecosystem eliminates the chance of underdog stories with teams, it makes more sense commercially in many instances. Not to mention, teams partnered with Riot Games for leagues like the LEC and LPL are incredibly happy with the price they’re paying and the security provided with no chance of being relegated. It not only pleases sponsors but those taking part in the scene too.

nitr0 holding captain america shield
ESL
Former CS:GO pro nitr0 is reportedly being paid a $300k salary to compete for 100 Thieves in Valorant.

Valorant esports has its own problems that definitely affect the commercial viability for the organizations looking to get involved, however. Salaries are rumored to be inflated to an insane degree among top teams like Team Liquid and G2 Esports, and having to fork out thousands and thousands each month — beyond what you may be able to recoup — is not healthy. This will need to be addressed unless teams can generate revenues that are not currently present in CS:GO.

Nonetheless, the future looks dazzling for the shooter. It would take either a colossal disaster on Riot Games’ behalf, or a host of great changes on Valve’s end, for Valorant to not be commercially superior to CS:GO in the realm of esports.

It won’t kill CS:GO, but it will be a better investment.

Gaming

How to Become the Next Gaming Influencer with GAME

Published: 1/Dec/2020 18:20 Updated: 15/Jan/2021 11:15

by Shane King

Share


GAME are launching a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for gaming content creators to win huge prizes and become a salaried influencer under the GAME banner. Here are the challenge’s details and how you can sign up.

No matter how experienced you are, GAME are offering the opportunity for a passionate PC or Xbox gamer to try out what it’s like being a gaming influencer. As long as you’re over 18 years old, a resident of the United Kingdom, and an avid gamer, you have a chance to win big.

Not only will the chosen winner earn some big prizes, but they’ll also receive a ton of media opportunities and visibility as a content creator for GAME. Among a variety of prizes, GAME’s influencer will earn a free Xbox Series X console and a £1,500 monthly salary for three months.

The full prize breakdown for the successful candidate is as follows:

GAME Next In fluencer Prize Breakdown

If you play on Xbox and/or PC, love gaming, and really love engaging with members of the community while providing entertaining, educational content, this opportunity could be for you. Below, you’ll find more details on the challenge, prizes, and how to get involved.

How to sign up for GAME’s influencer challenge

  1.  First thing’s first! Prepare a YouTube video, under two minutes long, that shows footage of you playing FIFA, Halo, Forza, or Destiny and includes commentary expressing why you want to be GAME’s influencer.
  2. Title the video “I’m (insert name here) and I want to be GAME’s next gaming influencer” and share it on Twitter and Facebook (tagging @GAMEDigital).
  3. Visit the GAME influencer challenge page and carefully fill out the form with your information, social media links, and a link to your YouTube video.
  4. Get your video out there! Share it on Twitter or Facebook too. Remember to tag @GAMEDigital so they can see it

Once your submission is in, the judges will get to work creating a shortlist based on “knowledge, enthusiasm, versatility, representation, and creativity.”

The full breakdown of the stages, including the five finalists each getting a one hour streaming slot on BELONG’s Twitch channel, can be found below.

GAME’s influencer challenge: How the winner will be picked

Level 1, Entries:

Fill out GAME’s influencer challenge form, including social media links and, most importantly, an entry YouTube video submission. Submissions opened on November 16 and close on December 18 2020.

Level 2, Shortlisting:

Judges review all entrants and select five top candidates by January 8, 2021, to move on to the next level. Candidates will be judged based on “knowledge, enthusiasm, versatility, representation, and creativity.”

BOSS Level, The Tournament:

The top five candidates will receive one hour on BELONG’s Twitch channel to play two games. (choosing between FIFA, Halo, Forza, and Destiny) 

Gaming Influencer Announced:

Based on how well each gamer performed and engaged with the audience during their stream, a winner will be chosen at a later date and the three-month contract will get inked!

Ultimately, GAME are offering gamers a chance at the exposure needed to grow their brands and, for one lucky winner, the opportunity to be a paid content creator.

Interested candidates should get their submissions ready, their social strategy planned, and their creative juices flowing. Starting with the initial submissions, big prizes are on the line and competition is sure to be fierce.