Sunday, April 17, 2011

Common Sense

We run a recreational paintball field and many of the players we cater to are first timers and those that play very rarely. We try to make sure they have a good time and "protect" them as much as we can. But there is a certain amount of common sense needed by players and even first timers should possess that.

For instance, if you run full bore into an area that you know is held by the opposing team and you know there will be multiple players from the opposing team waiting for you, you can't expect too much sympathy from the staff if you got hit several times. If you got hit 5 times when you ran into an area held by 7 opposing players, as far as I am concerned, you should consider yourself lucky you only got shot 5 times. At least 2 people missed you from less than 20 feet away.

If you are asked to surrender because several players from the opposing team managed to sneak up behind you and you decide you are not going to surrender but are going to go out in a blaze of glory instead, please don't complain if you got hit more than once. You can't expect the three players that asked you to surrender to pick straws in a split second while you are turning around to shoot them, to decide which one of them is going to shoot you. Of course you are going to get shot at least three times. If you aren't prepared for that, I suggest that next time you choose to surrender instead.

Just common sense stuff.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Is there anything that doesn't automatically get way cooler (yeah that's right, I said cooler!) when you drop the "e" on a word that starts with "ex" as in Xtreme?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Humming along

I made a post a few days ago about whether or not paintball would ever be mainstream. The idea of the post came after Kris (aka Mr. Canada, the founder of Canadian Scenario Paintball) had an editorial posted over at 68Caliber. You can find it here:

Anyway, Kris and I had a conversation going, along with a few other valued comment inputs (hey, all comments are valuable), but two of the comments were deleted by the owner of the site (it's his site so he can do as he wishes). Anyway, I've had a request from someone wanting to know what was posted. I do not have access to Kris' deleted comments and am not even sure which of his were deleted. The last one may have been one that I did not see and maybe it was getting a bit heated (although up to this point, Kris' comments seemed to be quite polite).

Anyway, I am going to post my two comments which were deleted here. Nothing earth shattering here, but I didn't want to disappoint all my fan(s) :)

Well Kris, obviously my own business model is going to be similar to what I promote and endorse, otherwise I would be a hypocrite.
You stated, “I am proposing this discussion because woodsabll field operators who are following this outdated business model are LOSING BUSINESS. They are losing their business to two areas: outlaw paintball, and lower margin speedball.”
First off, you are making an assumption. I guess in part, depending on how you define your statement, you may be right. The higher paintball price/lower volume model does lose some business to lower margin speedball and outlaw paintball. But guess what? We want to lose that business. As a matter of fact, I regularly recommend to some players at my field that they might be better off trying speedball or going to a place where paintballs are cheaper, so they can play with more people that like that style of play. But overall, I am more than a little convinced that the lower paintball volume (higher priced paintball) model is much more popular to a much wider and larger demographic. This is much more similar to the demographic that enjoys golf, vacation resorts and ski resorts than the demographic that prefers the much more intense high volume woodsball. For you to suggest that your much more intense, full auto, high volume version of paintball would be more attractive to this group is absolutely ludicrous. But these are the people that make up the majority of our population, but for some reason many paintball fields in North America, seem to ignore this demographic, instead going only for the “extreme sports” demographic. I guess this is why in Canada, where many more fields follow the higher paintball price/lower volume model, paintball has been much more stable.
I do believe the industry could do much better and could attract many more players and therefore become more mainstream. I believe we are not, due to two main reasons. First is that we still don’t protect our new players enough. I think we have become more conscious of the fact that we need to do this, but I think many fields haven’t totally figured out how to do this. The second, less widely accepted reason, is that we don’t provide a tame enough environment for those payers that do want to go past being a newbie. We (and when I say “we” I’m using the term as a generalization for the industry as a whole) make the assumption that when a player has decided to get more serious about paintball and buy his/her own gear, that they then automatically want to play a much more extreme version of the game. I don’t think that’s the case. Sure there are some that want to go hog wild and start playing paintball where the average player is shooting about a case, but I believe there are many, many more people that would pick up the game as a regular activity, if they could just go out regularly and play some leisurely paintball. That’s why we have at our field have many, many more regular players that will play and pay $35/500 paintballs than the speedball field that will sell them close to a case for the same price. Or they could play with the outlaw crowd and buy their paint cheap at the local paintball store and pay no field fees. But we have relatively very little outlaw play in our area because…players have a much less intense, much more enjoyable venue they can play at. You are right. People aren’t stupid. They have the ability to figure out which is better value for them.

The second:
TNT Paintball, Victoria, BC. I believe you have played there.

Kris said “Perhaps you have an awesome value proposition that I dont quite understand; players being happier with higher prices just doesn’t make sense to me, but hey if I am wrong, mea culpa”

You see Kris, this is where the fundamental flaw in your thinking lies, in my opinion. It has been well documented over the history of our game that when paintball prices have dropped, the average player doesn’t pay less for a day of paintball, but instead shoots more paintballs and pays about the same at the end of the day. Therefore, the cost doesn’t change rather the game does. Over the years it’s gone from “plinking” a few dozen balls over the course of the day to players shooting several thousands of balls in the same time period. I’m not saying “plinking” a few dozen balls is the way to go, but I certainly don’t advocate shooting thousands and thousands of paintball per player either, for hte average guy that wants to play the game.

We don’t look at our business as being in the business of selling paintballs. We sell an entertainment activity, or fun. However, that activity changes with the volume of paintball in the air and the volume of paintball in the air is directly influenced by the price of that commodity. The volume of paintballs in the air directly affects the interaction between the participants.

I have no problem with high volume paintball…if it’s played by people all with the same mindset and all prepared for that environment. It is just very clear to me, as clear as the nose on my face, that a much larger part of the population prefers to play in a less intense, lower volume environment. That’s why I have a big problem with you saying that promoting automatic markers and selling paintball just above cost will help make paintball more mainstream. I believe exactly the opposite will happen (and actually is and has been happening in most of North America).

I do wholeheartedly agree with you that paintball would benefit further with fields having better amenities. Hopefully fields such as CPX in Illinois will become much more common.

As far as asking my customers if they would prefer to play less for paintballs…I am very sure just about every single one of them would say yes, they would prefer to pay less. You see, just like you, most would not make the connection between the price of paintballs and the amount of fun they might have. A better question would be, “If you could pay the same price for your paintball outing, would you prefer to play with 3 or 4 times as many paintballs, knowing that all your opponents would also have 3 or 4 times as many paintballs and that the environment on the field would be much more intense?” Many would still not completely clue in, but at least they would realize that their outing would be considerably different from what they have now. At the end of the day, a field’s customers return over and over again, and a field’s business grows, because they had a good time, not because they paid more or less for paintballs. People come to a paintball field to have fun, not to purchase little goo filled gelatin spheres.

Like I said, nothing earth shattering here and some of it may not make total sense, not seeing and knowing what I was replying to.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Will Paintball Ever be Mainstream?

Ever since I have been involved in paintball in a more serious way, I have heard and read about how we as an industry need to get paintball to be accepted as mainstream. I've also heard many different opinions on what we need to do to make paintball mainstream. But what is mainstream?
Mainstream, in a broad sense, means to be widely recognized and accepted. Does paintball fit that definition. Maybe not quite, but I think we're actually quite close. Does your 70 year old grandmother know what paintball is and does she acknowledge and approve of it? Well, there is a good chance she knows very little about it. The other members of her knitting circle probably know very little about paintball as well. How about your 14 year old cousin? Yeah, there's a pretty good chance he not only knows what paintball is but he could very well have played paintball. But maybe he has never played golf. Does that mean that golf isn't mainstream?
Paintball is not an activity that is as widely played as something like soccer or baseball. There aren't too many kids in the world that have never kicked a soccer ball around and played at least a makeshift soccer game. So I guess paintball is not as mainstream as soccer. Or baseball. Or basketball. Or many other activities. But it never will be. Paintball needs more equipment and needs a fairly unique physical environment to play in. That is not easily produced by a few kids wanting to go and play some paintball for a half hour after dinner. But the same could be said for a game like ice hockey. It's considered mainstream, but also needs equipment and fairly unique physical location. In our neck of the woods, where ponds don't freeze over very often and kids can't just go and play a pick-up game of shinny hockey, and one has to pay a hefty ice time fee to play ice hockey, there are probably more kids that have played paintball than have played ice hockey.
Does your 70 year old grandmother know more about hockey than paintball? Sure, she most likely does. But hockey has been around since before she was born. She was about 40 when the first people played a paintball game and older when the first paintball field showed up in her town. Will your 14 year old cousin know as much about paintball as they will about hockey when they are 70? That will depend totally upon his interest. Admittedly he will most likely be exposed to hockey more than paintball (unless he ends up being a regular paintball player), as paintball does not present itself well as a spectator sport, unlike other games like hockey, soccer, and such. But there is a good chance even if he doesn't play paintball regularly, he will know as much or more about paintball as he will know about bowling, another game considered to be mainstream.
Paintball will never be participated by everyone, just the same as any other sport. The fact that paintball needs special equipment and a specialized physical venue, will mean that the participation will never be the same as an activity that doesn't need that. But that doesn't mean that paintball won't be, or perhaps already is, mainstream.