Home Gaming Why eSports isn’t capturing the attention of traditional sports viewers

Why eSports isn’t capturing the attention of traditional sports viewers

3 min read

I’m a massive traditional sports fan and my true love is football, the real football not that American thing. But in reality I’m like many other people and will watch any sport that I can find on TV. I’ve sat behind the TV watching everything from Football to Cricket to Athletics to Curling and enjoyed all of it. So when I heard that eSports was a thing I just expected to enjoy that as well seeing that I’m an avid gamer and used to compete in Quake 1 tournaments.

However it didn’t take more than 5 minutes of watching a stream to realise I don’t really enjoy watching eSports –  and it’s taken me years to figure out what the problem is.

I sit back and see pictures of massive stadiums filled to breaking point with audiences and hear how tournaments have prize pools larger than most traditional sports and I’ve always wondered why it isn’t exciting me as much as any traditional sport.


And then it dawned on my this last weekend. eSports are simply too fast, too complicated and too precise for easy viewing. The top CS:GO players are targeting people by mere pixels while the premier Starcraft players have reached an APM of over 800, with people stating that this isn’t even impressive. APM, for those of you unaware, is “Actions Per Minute” and describes how many moves or actions a player can complete in an average minute.

Now imagine someone who doesn’t know much about the game trying to see what the competitor sees when you are talking about pixels or how the Starcraft player is keeping track of anything at that pace.

Now eSports organisations have figured this out ages ago and that is why shoutcasting (commentating) has become such a big thing with the shoutcasters now being more famous than the competitors in many instances. But again, they are only targeting followers of the eSport in question, and trying to keep the entertainment levels alive during the frantic pieces.

This is also the reason why League of Legends and DOTA are the dominant eSports; it’s because of their relative simplicity.  Yes, there are metas to consider, but the casting is exciting because games of that sort are easier to explain and movement is a lot slower and easier to keep track of.

Call of Duty is the largest retail game on the planet but when looking at the Twitch stats – Twitch being the most popular online streaming platform – you will rarely see Call of Duty at the top.  Right now the top COD channel has 3200 viewers while the top League of Legends channel is rocking in 16200 viewers.  Neither of these streams interest me in the least.

It’s also interesting to note that the 4th most popular game right now to watch is Hearthstone, a strategic card game that no matter how you spin it is simply a card game and obviously not intensely exciting to watch for most people. The game only becomes interesting to watch once you understand all the cards powers and attributes.

I’d say the only eSports game right now which could be entertaining for the mass market to watch is Rocket League, where you drive around cars and try to score goals in the style of football. The game is simple to explain and can be fun for any traditional sports fan to watch and understand.

So the question for me is whether developers should rethink how they design games to purposefully slow them down and simplify them if they want to capture the mass market viewership?

But then again since none of these games ever involve athletic ability is the entire moniker “eSports” half the problem?

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Last Updated: March 16, 2016


  1. HairyEwok

    March 16, 2016 at 12:36

    Isn’t Twitch doing that right now with that Developer streaming thing?


  2. Aries

    March 16, 2016 at 12:50

    I find it easy to watch and I love football just as much, though I watch only the games I understand and like, example being BF4 and CSGO


  3. Alien Emperor Trevor

    March 16, 2016 at 12:52

    A couple of years ago I watched a bit of The International on Steam. By a bit I mean about 1 minute. I didn’t know wtf was going on, and the douche nozzle screeching away on commentary wasn’t helping.

    Who were the people playing? Dunno.
    Who was playing what character? Dunno.
    Why was a move so amazing? Dunno.

    Unless you’ve played a game enough to know how it works, you won’t know what’s going on & won’t pick it up by watching.


    • Guild

      March 16, 2016 at 13:34

      That’s why I liked the Dota Beginner Stream they started where every detail is discussed and you have a better understanding. Plus the chat is not toxic and you can ask questions and get the a decent answer


      • Geoffrey Tim

        March 16, 2016 at 13:38

        “how do I solo mid?”

        “lol stfu get rekt n00b” etc etc etc


    • RinceThis

      March 16, 2016 at 14:14



    • BakedBagel

      March 16, 2016 at 14:46

      They answer 2/3 question’s you asked… at the beginning of the game lmao, And they did have a noobie stream to help the not so standard viewers 😀


    • iusedtobe(a)regular

      March 17, 2016 at 08:35

      I feel the same. Two weeks ago I watched the last part of a match and I think they were playing Counter Strike and although it was very interesting (and I would like to see more than the few minutes watched) I had no clue what was going on. The immediate thing that was bugging me was the camera work and it is very annoying.


  4. Raptor Rants

    March 16, 2016 at 12:55

    “Dumb down” a game and people don’t want to play it competitive. Make it too intricate and people don’t want to watch. Seems like a bad match up.

    Definitely a tough one to overcome and one I am glad I don’t have to worry about. I feel for people making competitive games though. Imagine those meetings
    “People! How do we get people to watch our games!?”
    *deafening silence*


    • Anon A Mouse

      March 16, 2016 at 13:43

      You know the answer is “Moar Bewbs”


      • Raptor Rants

        March 16, 2016 at 14:06

        You can’t say that on the internet. Feminists and SJWs will hear you and then you’re in trouble


        • Jan Prins

          March 16, 2016 at 14:07


  5. Geoffrey Tim

    March 16, 2016 at 13:02

    I personally think shooters and fighting games are the most accessible, easiest to understand and follow. I know if a guy in CS: go shot another guy, cos I can see it. I know in MKX if one oke klaps another, or if some dude pulls of an amazing combo in Street fighter. In moba games, I have NO IDEA WTF IS GOING ON EVER. No amount of casting makes up for that.


    • Guild

      March 16, 2016 at 13:37

      I had no idea what was happening when I first started watching LoL but after a few games you figure it out plus the fight recaps help were they explain what happened. Dota I found the beginner channel was awesome in explaining what was going on in simpler terms. Don’t know why Gavin doesn’t like watching CoD though, he knows whats going on unless his getting too old to keep up


    • Jan Prins

      March 16, 2016 at 13:41

      It’s like chess. A game I have no understanding of.


      • miaau

        March 16, 2016 at 15:17

        I play chess and I watch chess games. I know many openings and understand the context of what I see, sometimes. Not all the time.

        It takes years and years to get to this point, if it is a hobby. Much the same with the other games.

        I think soccer is something easier to understand and relate to the pro playing versus yourself. Whereas in chess and eSports, I think when the grandmasters play the level is so much higher than the average that we sometimes do not even understand what we see without lots of thought or an outside “expert” to explain it.


  6. Ottokie vs the forces of Evil

    March 16, 2016 at 13:40

  7. Anon A Mouse

    March 16, 2016 at 13:41

    eSport will never be a thing for the mass market, just like curling isn’t a thing for the traditional sports viewer. It’s a niche market (albeit with a big following). I don’t see the problem with that. You’ll never please everybody anyway (There are people who’s heart only Klopp for football, while other see it as a sport watched by hooligans, etc.). I personally also can’t wrap my head around the “eSport” moniker either. But then again calling it eAbility or what ever else will still not make me watch it.

    eSport tournaments have their market and those people are entertained by it, why worry about the rest? We’re all a bunch of geeks and nerds to them anyway.


  8. Darren Peach

    March 16, 2016 at 14:02

    “But then again since none of these games ever involve athletic ability is the entire moniker “eSports” half the problem?”
    That statement alone serves to add relevance to your article. When we have heroes like AB who actually entertain through their psychical performance, It’s hard to see how some obnoxious kid who wears pants hanging down halfway his backside and wears a beany will capture the imagination of your average beer drinking couch potato.


  9. UltimateNinjaPandaDudeGuy

    March 16, 2016 at 14:40

    It is not just the fact that you have to learn the rules of another sport… Like with DOTA2 you have to know all the items, heroes and combinations to be able to fully appreciate what is going on.

    That said… Traditional sport was always so boring to me. Now I finally have something to watch! DOTA2 o/


  10. BakedBagel

    March 16, 2016 at 14:44

    I fully agree with this article expect for this

    “So the question for me is whether developers should rethink how they design games to purposefully slow them down and simplify them”

    What makes sc2/dota/lol/csgo the champions of esports?

    The skill level. These are games where its easy to get the hang of, yet extremely difficult to master. By making games easier or “slow them down” is taking one of the most interesting aspects out of the game. The skill required. But 10/10 article Gav


  11. CongoKyle

    March 16, 2016 at 14:47

    Why eSports isn’t capturing the attention of old people.

    (don’t fire me)



    • Admiral Chief [BFTS]

      March 17, 2016 at 09:01



  12. Dane

    March 18, 2016 at 14:05

    Speaking of Rocket League, LG ALL STARS GO PLAY YOUR FREAKIN DGL MATCH so we can continue with the pre cup. kthx


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