Friday, April 3, 2009

Screw the Tournament Players!

A lot of people think that I don’t like tournament players. They think that because we don’t have speedball fields at our facility and because we don’t sell paintballs for $50/case or allow BYOP, they jump to the conclusion that we dislike speedball players and want nothing to do with them.

Well that’s true, and yet it isn’t true. I have friends that play tournament paintball. I myself dabbled in tournament ball for a while and quite liked it. I don’t mind if players that normally play tournaments come to our field. However, what I do not want is players playing tournament style paintball at our recreational paintball field.

There are all sorts of businesses that cater to one type of customer and do not market to other types of customers. For instance, fast food burger joints don’t serve $30 Steak and Lobster meals. Dance studios teaching ballet don’t normally teach ballroom dancing. Hip Hop radio stations don’t play Opera. It’s like that everywhere in the commercial world.

For many years, many in the industry thought paintball was evolving from woodsball (where it all started) into speedball. They thought that eventually almost all paintball would be played on small fields with big balloon bunkers. They were wrong. Paintball didn’t evolve from woodsball into speedball, but rather paintball split into two separate forms of paintballs that are very different from one another.

Yes, there are many similarities, but there are enough differences to make them attractive to two totally different sets of players. Sure there are players that play and enjoy both forms of paintball, just like some people dance ballet and ballroom and eat Steak & Lobster one night and a greasy burger for lunch the next day.

We choose not to pursue the speedball market because we feel it is a completely different market than the recreational (woodsball) paintball market. We concentrate on one type of customer and one type of paintball. This allows us to work at providing the best product possible for that type of customer. It works for us. There are enough people in the relatively small market we are in to keep us busy doing what we do. Sometimes we are too busy. Some will say, “Sure, but you are missing out on a big part of the paintball market.” That may be true, but McDonald’s is missing out on the Steak and Lobster crowd and doesn’t seem to worry about it.

Recently I’ve had discussions with people that feel paintball players should stretch out and try other genres of play. Many players are starting their paintball playing with speedball right away, skipping the traditional start in the woods. I guess they feel these players are not connecting with their woodsball cousins, and when they go play at a recreational facility, they take their speedball style and attitudes with them. These are the players that create problems at recreational fields.

I agree. That is a problem. But it’s only a problem for the field that allows this to happen. A field that has checks and balances in place to deter this kind of behavior can provide a fun environment for their recreational playing customers even if they get visiting tournament players. The fields that can do this haven’t been hurt in the recent years while the industry has seen a downturn (that started before the recent recession – see Doom and Gloom article below). On the contrary, the growth hasn’t stopped for those fields. We’re still growing, even during a world wide recession.

I don’t dislike tournament players. I don’t even mind if tournament players come to play at our recreational paintball facility. But I can guarantee you that they will play much more like recreational paintball players at our facility, or they will be asked to leave. So come play at our facility, but leave your competitive attitudes and your competitive style of play at the speedball facility. Then we will all get along nicely.

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