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Old 12-09-2007, 04:16 PM #1
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Is the paintball industry growing or dieing? (Attempt at serious discussion)

I've been on the phone with alot of people in the last few months talking about paintball and how it's changing. It seems to me that paintball is getting the media coverage it deserves (Fox reality show), and more pro players are being payed to play every year. People are getting signed to contracts, and teams that were a group of friends are now caring more about the buisness aspect of paintball.

This season teams had to drop out of NXL due to money issues. Something that we rarley see. Doc has thrown in the towel from what I have heard due to heart problems, Joy is done with NPPL, LTZ is done with NPPL and dropped out of X-ball mid-season, Ultimate is knocked out of X-ball which everyone saw coming, Blast had to drop out of X-Ball (Bob Long is probably one of the smartest coaches in X-Ball), and at this point, it's not even clear of what teams will be in the pro spots, and what teams will have thier players looking for places to go. Also, sponsorships with lower divisional teams have been shriviling up as time has progressed. At this point, it's hard to get any type of sponsorship unless your a top 3 team, which in a sense is understandable, but as prices for tournaments grow, and sponsorship budgets lower, is this going to cause lower teams and new players to stop playing tournaments? Only time will tell, even though there were 150 teams in D3 X-ball, supposably the other events in both NPPL and PSP had some of the worst turn outs spectator wise in a long time. I've been told by pro team owners that a good amount of teams with sponsorships are going to lose their sponsorships, and the rest will have their sponsorships cut in half.

So what's going on with the industry do you think? Are we growing or dieing? Will we come out of whatever slump we are in?

Please stay mature and on topic, I just am curious to see what others have to say.
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Old 12-09-2007, 04:22 PM #2
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honestly nothing can just continue to grow. everything has to go down sometime. for example. dynasty lost their reign on top. but have continued to win championships. what im gettin at is the fact that yes the industry is kind of going down but over all it doesnt look like it will change to much.

and as far as the team dropping out. joy left because they basically chose to. ultimate was in the wrong league. as was ltz. and blast was jsut not cutting it either. that shows how hard its becoming to stay pro and battle every sunday. its actually pointing out the weaker teams in a sense.
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Old 12-09-2007, 04:26 PM #3
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You addressed the question wrong.
Is the American PB industry growing or dieing?

Europe + Paintball is the equivalent to the 19th century industrial revolution. There has been nothing but growth over here.
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Old 12-09-2007, 04:40 PM #4
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i see this as growth. growing pains if you will. Professional/national level paintball should NOT be for everybody. It should take somebody seriously committed to playing in order to play and the national leagues need to recognize this. I think that the attitude toward national events needs to change from the players perspective. Look at baseball. Anybody can join their local rec league, practice and win, but 95% of those players will not go on to play national level ball because they dont have the time, money nor commitment. I think that what we're going to see in the next few years is the national level of play increase dramatically (create a huge gap between national level players and "general players") which is going to shrink the leagues a bit, but it's ok because they're the people willing to put out the cash because they put the time and dedication into it, and we'll see a continued increase in local and regional events. I think that for competitive paintball to be successful promoters have to foster this:

1. Introduce player to sport, educate them about the fundamentals and get them interested in tourney play
2. GET them to a local event or two and let them get the hang of tourney play
3. Introduce to regional events (by now they should want to be playing these)
4. Step into divisional play.
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Old 12-09-2007, 04:40 PM #5
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ultimate is still playing NXL..what are you talking about?
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Old 12-09-2007, 09:24 PM #6
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Well I'm a store owner and over the last 2 years I've seen my business explode with new customers. New Rec ball customers, that is, not competitive speedball customers. What I see as a trend with wholesale companies over the years is that they now know that investing in teams is a losing battle with little to no financial gain for them unless they dump their cash in a individual pro player or a top 4 pro team. They are a business that has to make money to pay their investors and every year that profit margin has to increase if the presidents of these corporations want to keep their jobs. Every company in America looks at their situation and tries to figure out how to make more money every year whether it's getting new business or giving less amount of raises or cuting out benifits. Sorry, but thats the way it works in America money talks everything else walks.
As a store owner (and being lucky enough to be in a position where I can still get support from the industry), I try very hard to get NeX as much as I can but the big thing with them is that they go out play well and do everything in their power to win and sometimes they do that well, sometimes they don't. Also, they appreciate what I do for them. Now, with that said, I also see god awful teams that want everything without doing anything. I get calls all day long from teams that ask me what can I do for them? My question is what can you do for me? I get the we'll put your store name on our jerseys.....George you just have to pay for it, we'll put your stickers on our hoppers.....George you just have to pay for it, we'll hang up your banner.....George you just have to pay for it, we'll promote your store to all our friends at the field.....George you just have to pay for the event. And it goes on and on. And then what happens? The first guy that offers them a new gun for 5 buxs cheaper, they turn their back on you and say oh well sorry. See it all the time, some players and teams are their own worst enemy. Maybe it's not lack of local sponsors, maybe its just local sponsors getting sick and tired of teams that have no respect for what they get and **** on them every chance they get. I don't believe that is the entire problem, but teams don't make it any easier when they pull **** like that. So what's my advise to you? get a job and pay for your own **** and if you can't afford it don't play. And maybe just maybe if your heart is in it and you practice really hard, you may find a free ride down the road and if that day ever comes, remember not to **** on your sponsor because you'll recall the day when it all came out of your pocket.
Now what do rec ball players want?........nothing, they just wanna play and have fun. And guess what else they spend lots of money on paintball and don't ask for anything in return? Now answer me this if you were in business to make money what would you do? Sponsor a team that doesn't give a crap about you and your company or take the other road and make money? ya
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Old 12-09-2007, 10:46 PM #7
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overshot01 and p8ballz have very valid points...

what we need to do as players, and that is geared toward those of us who have been playing/a part of the sport for more than just a few months, is to continue promoting growth for the sport. i have seen teams come and go who want everything for nothing. free paint. cheap gear. free entry. local mom-and-pop type fields can't support teams like that.

at my field we had all the players work in a haunted house that we ran. in return those players are getting a break on paint and gear. not free... just a break. additionally they are responsible for setting a good example while at the field.

the industry is growing. it always has been and will continue, but we are responsible for that continuance.

another thing we are doing at my field is working at doing day camps that train newer players in basics, as well as safety education.

and the biggest cash-cow walking into the shop doors are rec-ballers and woods-ballers. everyday that i stop at the shop there is always someone stopping in to pick up a few cases, getting tanks filled and placing orders for gear.

on the topic of the pro's... they are a special subject/breed. by playing pro ball they do get a lot of their gear for free. instead of throwing them $10,000, companies and sponsors are giving them gear. the lower level teams, i'm sorry, have to pay their dues. you can't play a 3-man tourny and expect to get a full ride w/ anyone. not everyone can play at the pro level and the pros have younger players looking up to them, which the companies capitalize on. they'll make an xsv sl-74, or a dynasty shocker because they know the kids will buy it.

anyhow, the sport is growing. and i don't care if it goes into a slow time or a slump... i'm still going to be slinging paint at people every chance i get.
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Old 12-10-2007, 11:33 AM #8
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Not to go too deep into it, I personally think that paintball is not dieing but evolving.

Companies are refocusing their sponsorships towards more Scenario/Woodsball based Teams. This is evident in Planet Eclipse picking up teams such as Horror Show and Pub Crawling. Why? I couldn't really tell you, maybe better Return on Investment (ROI). I mean realistically how often do you get to go sling paint with your favorite pro speedball team and/or player? I'm not saying that the scenario guys are as popular or as well known as the pro players but they do go out and play with the everyday people and have fun.

Sponshorship on lower level based teams are decreasing for good reason. Sponsorships are more or less like advertising. Lets be honest who do you see more in a mag, the Joe Schmoe team or a Pro Team? Obviously the Pro team is going to been seen more with bigger pictures too. Hey guess whats they are using in those pics? The Sponsors products.

As for the leagues i dont really know. I kinda imagined paintball growing into something like the NFL or NBA. But i dont see that coming true without a completely new league with a format not seen before and teams becoming a true business.
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Old 12-10-2007, 11:54 AM #9
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First off, the growth or decline of the industry as a whole is not an opinion. Its a fact. "I think" has nothing to do with it. Either you know the truth or you don't.

Secondly, no one REALLY knows the truth. There are no real industry wide numbers. Each company knows its own situation. From what I've been told in conversation with people, most companies are still growing, but the growth rate has gone from 50% to 5%. So, while they are growing in absolute terms, most companies did not meet their projections. From a budgetting perspective, meeting projections is as important as actual growth.

So, Tim Montrossor told me that Smart Parts is doing numbers today that make the numbers from 5 years ago look paltry. But they aren't doing today what they did last year. Long term they are trending upwards, short term downwards.

In terms of the impact on tournament paintball, there are other factors involved;

1. The industry has recognized the poor ROI of sponsoring pro teams and the even poorer ROI of sponsoring any teams below pro (purchasing power kickbacks are not, in my eyes, sponsorship). As such, the industry is refocussing on Scenario play. Sponsorships are cheaper, the teams have good exposure and they are earning that exposure in a more appealing segment of the overall paintball playing population (i.e. Rec players, who are ok with actually buying their products and don't ask for much free). So this means that there is both less total dollars being spent on sponsorship AND that a smaller % of the total is being sent to pro teams.

2. The Leagues are putting the squeeze on the industry (as much as they are the teams). The PSP and NPPL aren't going to merge. That means there will be 2 leagues asking for $100K each for league sponsorship. There will be 10 events that trucks have to be shipped to and people have to take time off to work. There will be that many more teams asking for sponsorship.

If the PSP and NPPL merged, we'd see a greater concentration of funds. But, since they aren't, the companies are being pulled in too many directions. Planet has $x to spend next year and the PSP and the NPPL both want to take a piece of that. In a very real way, the leagues are competing with the teams for the same sponsorship dollars.


Now, I can't speak to the overall health of the industry or the leagues or even teams in general. I can say that I believe the 'Canes are representative of most other pro teams. Some have more, some have less, but all are facing the same situation - declining funds and not declining demands. We did see some teams back out of the NXL this year (Legacy, LTZ) although not all because of a lack of funds. Doc sold his pro spot, ostensibly because of the cost of continuing to run it. That said, Rage bought the spot, so they must not be hurting too badly. And Joy had a deal in place with another team to lease their spot. So some people have money.

Its the same thing as always - the rich will be ok, maybe not get richer, but not get poorer. The poor are in trouble. And, as before, many teams are ducking for cover to wait out the storm.
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Old 12-10-2007, 12:01 PM #10
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I don't think all the pro teams that are pulling out are pulling out due to financial issues, many of them, I believe, are pulling out in large part because of other issues. Most of which have been stated here. It looks to me like a couple people who own fields appear to be doing alright, I would like to see what Dave Painter and Bill have to say about it as well, hopefully they'll give us another opinion from the field/shop owner view. It seems to me the companies that were shelling out the REALLY large sponsorship dollars (i.e. paint and gear companies) that are recoiling the most. You'll also notice that many of those same companies are currently getting bought out by larger corporations where the bottom dollar means more then growing the sport, I believe that the companies not owned by larger corporations put the most back into the sport (Dye, PE, and SP). Long story short it doesn't suprise me that many of those other companies that are coming from corporate america would start to restrict their sponsorships.

That being said, I think paintball as a sport will be a fraction of what it could be (and that includes money coming in) as long as there are two leagues. If the leagues were to merge, or if one league dies out, I think the growth that will result will be exponential. With one league there would be more sponsorship $$ to go around, but also we wouldn't be cutting what is already a relatively small demographic (tournament paintball players) in half. As a result larger companies (gatorade, redbull, etc) would have more to gain from taking an interest in the league, because they would be able to reach all tournament paintball players, not just those that play NPPL or just PSP. But I suppose that's another discussion for another thread.

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Old 12-10-2007, 01:04 PM #11
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ok with all that said it seems pretty easy support the NPPL and forget about the psp.
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Old 12-10-2007, 02:47 PM #12
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because you play 7man.
riptide may not agree.
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Old 12-10-2007, 02:50 PM #13
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if you had to pick one stein... what would it be. nppl or PSP.
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Old 12-10-2007, 03:16 PM #14
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i don't know.
it would have to be something i research more.

obviously, the team has performed better in the NPPL, in both Pro and Semi Pro.

and, obviously, our sponsors would have something to say about where we played if we had to choose.
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Old 12-10-2007, 08:12 PM #15
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because you play 7man.
riptide may not agree.

Well look around on the exceptions of riptide who else really has an xball field? or better yet an xball tournament in New england? oh ya maynard has a field that no one really ever plays on.(except the canes) Nepl gets a huge draw of 7man teams to ever event, fox 4 also gets a huge draw of teams. Where is the big draw of Xball teams? I think the nepl tried starting that league a few years back and it failed. It seems to me that in New England anyway 7 man is the way.
It's really unfair that the Big names in the industry turned their back on the NPPL. They said it was a money thing which I can understand but why pick the psp over nppl? I can only give you my look at it. Kee action sports owns a piece of the psp so to them it would be in their best interest to support the psp. But what about the rest, why do they feel the need to follow psp? Does it cost them less money? Did Kee make some kind of closed door deal with these companies to stay away from the NPPL? I ask and I ask but I can never seem to get an answer. But anyway I will always continue to support the NPPL, hopefully the rest of the industry will get a grip and follow the NPPL too. Thats all I want for Christmas
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Old 12-10-2007, 09:18 PM #16
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Well look around on the exceptions of riptide who else really has an xball field? or better yet an xball tournament in New england? oh ya maynard has a field that no one really ever plays on.(except the canes) Nepl gets a huge draw of 7man teams to ever event, fox 4 also gets a huge draw of teams. Where is the big draw of Xball teams? I think the nepl tried starting that league a few years back and it failed. It seems to me that in New England anyway 7 man is the way.
It's really unfair that the Big names in the industry turned their back on the NPPL. They said it was a money thing which I can understand but why pick the psp over nppl? I can only give you my look at it. Kee action sports owns a piece of the psp so to them it would be in their best interest to support the psp. But what about the rest, why do they feel the need to follow psp? Does it cost them less money? Did Kee make some kind of closed door deal with these companies to stay away from the NPPL? I ask and I ask but I can never seem to get an answer. But anyway I will always continue to support the NPPL, hopefully the rest of the industry will get a grip and follow the NPPL too. Thats all I want for Christmas
i assumed dye and sp aren't dealing with nppl for a more personal than professional reason. i have no legitimate reasoning as to why, just feels that way.
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Old 12-10-2007, 09:32 PM #17
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When it comes to money and industry, personal feelings dont mean ****. You can never show hate to someone, if that someone loads your pocket with money.
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Old 12-10-2007, 09:35 PM #18
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Not trying to go off topic, but the sport is extemely expensive. Markers cost more than most real guns do. And paint is charged at a rediculous ammount. All it is, is gelatin and paint, the companies are making a killing, while we as players and teams sometimes struggle to play monthly. With exceptions of course of those of you who are well off, but pro teams drop out due to financial reasons, the tournaments are very expensive to. I could see a huge ammount of growth in the industry if they unanimously lowered prices.
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Old 12-10-2007, 10:15 PM #19
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Well look around on the exceptions of riptide who else really has an xball field? or better yet an xball tournament in New england? oh ya maynard has a field that no one really ever plays on.(except the canes) Nepl gets a huge draw of 7man teams to ever event, fox 4 also gets a huge draw of teams. Where is the big draw of Xball teams? I think the nepl tried starting that league a few years back and it failed. It seems to me that in New England anyway 7 man is the way.
It's really unfair that the Big names in the industry turned their back on the NPPL. They said it was a money thing which I can understand but why pick the psp over nppl? I can only give you my look at it. Kee action sports owns a piece of the psp so to them it would be in their best interest to support the psp. But what about the rest, why do they feel the need to follow psp? Does it cost them less money? Did Kee make some kind of closed door deal with these companies to stay away from the NPPL? I ask and I ask but I can never seem to get an answer. But anyway I will always continue to support the NPPL, hopefully the rest of the industry will get a grip and follow the NPPL too. Thats all I want for Christmas
I think one of the major detractors to the X-Ball format is cost. I know that for a 40 minute X-Ball match I'm planning on shooting 20-25 cases. During an NEPL event my team will shoot between 12-15. That's at least a 300 dollar difference. X-Ball is also a younger, faster game than 7 man. At least at the level most of us play at around here, a lot of the 7 man teams aren't comprised of 16 year old boys who can duck walk the entire field.

However, I do think there is a market for X-Ball. Look at the AXBL/MXL. They had 8 MXL teams last year, this year they have 24. The entire Eastern Conference is made up of 6 Mass teams, one from Vermont, and one from Troy, New York.

I always watch 7 man at the Cape and on the Internet and all of that, and I'm always shocked at how BORING it is to watch if you don't care about what is going on. The paintball on FSN, even in it's abreviated form, is so boring if you don't already like paintball. At least X-Ball style matches have a points system people can relate to (most American's understand the points/halves system, like hockey/soccer/lacrosse).

Obviously the two leagues have issues, and they are obviously a major influence on the growth of the tournament scene. What I find most interesting is how the majority of us, tournament players, are worried about the state of the sport, when it seems to be just bonkers from a rec players scenario. Paintball fields are opening all over New England. Balls to the Wall, Monster, the Reball Center in NH, etc. means that there is an interest in the sport of paintball. We've just managed to price ourselves almost out of existence with the formats we choose, the technology we need, and the insatiable desire to be the guy with the thing that nobody else has but everybody wants.

Can we do tournament paintball cheaper? IS there a way to make the game more affordable, to keep things from spiraling out of control? The tournament scene is hampered by the fact that paintball almost always starts out at about 300 dollars worth of equipment, and within a year it goes to about 2 grand. Think of how many people that keeps out of the tournament scene.

Personally, I think it's like any sport that is equipment dependent, and therefore I don't see it any different than most other major sports. However, unlike tennis and golf, which have a country club atmosphere, there is something almost decidely "blue collar" (for the record, I hate that term, but can't think of a better way to describe it) background to paintball, similiar to hunting. We used to be the guys crawling around in the woods who drove pickup trucks and had gun racks. Now, we wear pretty pink uniforms and shoot computers at each other. However, until that "blue collar" sub culture completely disapears, we're always going to have this debate. Tourney ball needs to eventually be the tennis/golf of extreme sports, but then we lose almost all of the players.

My head hurts. Money sucks, it's the only problem in this sport that we can't find a solution for. You either have it or you don't. Look at baseball, a pro sport with haves and have nots. Some paintball teams are always going to be the Royals.
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Old 12-11-2007, 12:18 AM #20
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It's really unfair that the Big names in the industry turned their back on the NPPL .... Kee action sports owns a piece of the psp so to them it would be in their best interest to support the psp. But what about the rest .... Did Kee make some kind of closed door deal with these companies to stay away from the NPPL?
Uh, what companies are you talking about?
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Old 12-11-2007, 01:30 AM #21
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Spoiler Alert: I'm going off topic.

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Well look around on the exceptions of riptide who else really has an xball field? or better yet an xball tournament in New england? oh ya maynard has a field that no one really ever plays on.(except the canes) Nepl gets a huge draw of 7man teams to ever event, fox 4 also gets a huge draw of teams. Where is the big draw of Xball teams? I think the nepl tried starting that league a few years back and it failed. It seems to me that in New England anyway 7 man is the way.

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Originally Posted by jjokeefe View Post
However, I do think there is a market for X-Ball.
Unfortunately I disagree with "jjokeefe", there really isn't any market for Xball in NE. I can name for sure 3 xball fields in NE (Maynard, Riptide, and Matts Outback) and I know of two that used to exist, but am not sure of any more (Hogans, Birch Hill). I can tell you guys that 90% of our practices last season were against ourselves. Besides the Canes, there just wasn't any xball teams around. 7man is cheaper and easier to maintain a roster of. Added to the support for 7man the NEPL has brought, and Xball really has no place in New England.

(And the league you were thinking of Georgie was the NEXL, and if I remember right they were able to run 1 event, then had to cancel due to lack of attendance for the rest of its short existence.)
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