Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Value and the PSP

Recent changes in some rules in the PSP have got the paintball world in an uproar it seems, at least for those who care about the PSP and a few who probably care very little about the PSP and just want to see the league suffer. Some hate the changes; others love them and then are those that go with the flow. Lane Wright (CEO of the PSP) sent an email to members explaining why these changes were made, basically explaining that the PSP is in dire straits (expenses exceeding income) and the changes were made for the most part to try to attract more players.

A quick disclaimer: I don’t play tournament paintball (barely touched the game). I do not nor have ever played a PSP event. I haven’t even seen a PSP event. So what am I doing writing about the PSP? Well it is paintball and this is a paintball blog. It’s also my paintball blog so I can pretty much write about anything I please.

Being a business owner in paintball, I tend to look at things from a business point of view. That’s not to say that I look at every business to see how it can maximize profits. Heck, I don’t even think I look at my own business like that. But I do like to see businesses succeed. I understand what it means to take a risk and understand that it takes a lot of hard work to make a business successful and therefore I don’t like to see people fail. Any business, it doesn’t matter what it is, facilitates an exchange between two or more parties. Both parties seek at least an equal value to compensate what they are giving up. The PSP is no different. Those with whom the PSP deals with, are also no different. Vendors setting up booths want to sell wares and feel they received sufficient exposure to compensate what they paid for that opportunity. Members of PB Industry that donate money or wares (if there are any left) also want to feel they received an equal value of advertising and exposure.

Then we get to the players that play the events. These are the players that must in these times pay for the lion’s share of the PSP’s expenses. But like everyone else, they want an equal amount of value. But this is where it gets a little muddled. In most acts of commerce, it’s fairly easy to see both sides of the trade. If you buy a watch for instance and pay a certain dollar amount for it, say $40, before you buy it, you justify to yourself that the watch is worth what you are giving up ($40). Very simple. You hand over $40, the shopkeeper hands over a watch worth (to you) $40.

So what does a player get that plays a PSP event? Well they get to play a game. That’s entertainment and has value. They might win a prize, which has value (obviously not a certainty, but it is a possibility and I’m sure the chance to win has some value). They get a weekend of hanging out with their buds. Again, value. What I’m trying to say is that there are various ways players feel they get value by attending a PSP event.

On the other side of the equation is what a player has to give up. Event fees, paint fees, hotel fees, car rental fees, transportations costs, restaurant (food) costs are among some of the most obvious. Obviously this can add up to quite a bit. So if a guy like me has the money to pay for the aforementioned, and feels he will get an equal amount of value form playing a PSP event, can I go (assuming I can find a team to play on) and take part? Sure I can. But chances are no one is going to want me on their team cause basically I suck and have no experience. So how do I change that? Well, I could practice and get better. It would take a while, no doubt, and would cost a fair bit in time commitment and money for practice time and practice paint, as well as appropriate gear. Then there is the possibility of lost wages in lost work opportunities. How about vehicle and gas expenses to and from the field? Gifts for the wife to stop her fuming cause I’m never home and spending all our money. These are all indirect costs to playing a PSP event. And they add up. Big time. Now there may be some value gained along the way. For instance I might really enjoy the practices and enjoy hanging out with the rest of the team. Maybe the wife will enjoy the gifts so much I might get a little extra (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more!). But overall, the reason I’m doing this at all is because I want to play paintball in the national circuit. I’d like to add that every player will account differently the value they get, so it gets really quite difficult to stand back and say, “Yeah, that looks about right. Each party is getting an equal amount of value.”

In all commerce transactions, both parties are looking for value equal to what they are giving up. Is the PSP providing this? Is it even possible for the PSP to provide enough value for what the average player has to give up? I really have my doubts, at least for the majority of players in the world.

It’s going to be a very difficult battle for Mr. Wright and all those involved with the PSP. I would really like to see them succeed, but in all honesty, I’ll be surprised if they can.


  1. Though with PSP not taking in profits, less prizes, less coverage, less participation in the events, that would effect the sponsorship money that companies will give out when their winning team just sold them how many thousand ego's or DM's or shocker's because how many kids watching it on ESPN whether they play paintball or not will want one? which eventually gets recycled somewhat into the paintball industry.

  2. I don't believe that PSP events get broadcast on ESPN on anywhere else on television so the "value" a sponsor would get would be much smaller. There is currently value in supporting the PSP, but it would be difficult to quantify and it seems that PB Industry has put a much lower value on it in present times than in times past.

    Often times businesses will continue doing what they are doing if their business is growing (if it's not broken, don't fix it). I think this is what happened for years during paintball's initial growth cycle. But when the growth hit a hiccup, PB Industry took a new look at what they were doing and how they were spending their marketing budgets. Speedball had the biggest decline, so cutbacks were made. I think anyone running a business would do the same thing. Those that make up PB Industry are businesses trying to make a profit. They are not charities. They want to get what they feel is equal value for what it costs them. No doubt there is value in having the winning team play with your gear. It's just not nearly as valuable as it was when PB Industry thought speedball would keep growing and growing, instead of declining. Should the numbers turn back around and PSP events (and competitive type paintball in general) start seeing steady increases again, then PB Industry will start spending more of their marketing dollars in those areas again. The value they feel they are getting back will have increased. But don't hold your breath waiting for this to happen.