Sunday 15 September 2013

Prize money in SA gaming is premature!

A number of local organisations give prize money to local competitions.

Most notably of these is the DGL.

However, does this really help gaming?

Let's unpack the issue shall we.

First, the giving of prize money differs from the award of a medal or such as it ceases to be an award, but instead becomes a reward.

While everybody agrees that people should be rewarded for their efforts, the reward should be:
  • In line with international standards,
  • In line with effort given,
  • if the game is being played at international championships, and
  • In line with the professionalism of the recipients.
If the reward is in excess of the categories mentioned above, then the reward ceases to be a reward, and instead becomes merely an 'entitlement'.

And it certainly seems as though that the way in which prize money is awarded in South African eSports at the moment seems to be that. A very closed affair with the money going to those that 'deserve' it.

And then there is the matter of development.

How does prize money help development of the new gamers, of the elite gamers, and in getting new gamers into the competitive scene?

Getting in new gamers: There is no doubt that large sums of money offered as prizes carry sensationalist headlines. But after the initial hype, it is all an empty promise in my opinion. The prize money may well attract the attention of the reader and the non committed gamer, but it does nothing to enable anybody to actually start gaming. In other words it is purs marketing.... all words and no substance. It does not take the average person more than a few nanoseconds to realise that the prize money is reserved for the few. Thus, the prize money offering is incapable of helping new clans to start, to maintain the sustainability of clans, or indeed, provide for the very basics that a growing sport needs.

Development of new gamers: eSports is like a garden, in order to see real growth, the garden has to be tended, mulch and compost has to be dug in, and the weeds pulled. In other words, development of new gamers is year-long and requires continual attention. Gamers require coaching, training and events in order to improve. But before that, gamers need venues, equipment and support. Prize mney given top the few instead of having at least three times the amount spent on development is thus meaningless. The prize money given never gets distributed down the pyramid to deliver any real sustainability and growth to support the growth of eSports as a true sport.

Development of elite gamers: Of course it is the elite gamers who are the ones in line for the prize money, but does it help them?

The answer is NO!

Often the prize money offered by an organiser is split up among a number of titles and a number of positions, so, by the time the monies are actually given, the amounts are not enough to help elite gamers achieve their objectives of competing in international competition. In fact, at times, there is sometimes only enough for the team or gamers to cover their own costs to pay for their costs to get to and from the event.

The amounts given, are also nearly nowhere the amounts required for any gamer to become a true professional. It is through being a true professional that gaming in South Africa will truly improve and become on par with gaming overseas.

In conclusion:

Instead of companies pouring monies into prize money, more good will be done if the companies take one step back and look at the needs of the gamers.

By not paying prize money, companies could identify to gamers and put them on a payroll and turn them into top professionals.

This is what gaming really needs.

This is what South Africa needs!

Think about it!


  1. I think that the glaringly obvious evidence all around the world quite clearly shows that the model of "rewarding the best teams with large prize purses" seems to work pretty well at identifying, motivating and rewarding the best of the best. At least, anyone watching ESWC, Dreamhack, MLG, The International or IEM would think.

    The issue isn't really the method of distribution of prize money, it's the amount. You're right in that the pie is sliced up for many people, but to suggest that there's not enough for the top teams - but if there's more money (as it is in other countries) then this is no longer an issue. To reward substandard players (who quite obviously have no eSports future), that's the real joke here.

    disband pls.

    1. Dear Ben

      What you seem to not understand is that the prize money that is awarded at most overseas competitions is largely paid to the club owners.

      Because the players earn salaries from the clubs, the gamers are contracted to pay all prize monies to the clubs.

      Hence the argument that I posted still holds.

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