Evolving the eSports industry – Why pro players should be treated like entrepreneurs instead of freelancers
In this article I’m going to talk about what’s wrong with today’s eSports industry and how I’m planning on changing it. I’ll say in advance that some of the things I’m going to talk about are mostly unknown to the general public and it’s probably going to piss off a lot of eSports organizations. I’ll take that risk.
What’s going on today?
Lets start from the beginning, a few months ago I decided that I’m going to achieve my longtime dream of becoming an owner of a competitive eSports team. It’s something I always wanted to do, but never really knew how to even start doing. When I realized that Overwatch’s beta is starting soon I thought that it would be the perfect opportunity to start achieving my goal.
The reason is that it’s much easier to build a team in a new game that doesn’t require you to have a lot of money in order to draft players. Since I don’t have a lot of experience in this field, I had to consult someone who does. I found a lawyer that specialize in eSports contracts for both players and teams and asked him what the best way of doing things is. In response he sent me to research the subject by forwarding me some very interesting articles to read. This is one of them: http://www.dailydot.com/esports/lcs-contract-analysis-league-of-legends-riot-games/
For those who are too lazy to read, I’ll sum it up like this: the contract the League of Legends players have to sign in order to play in the LCS is abysmal. Now I know that this is a contract with Riot, and not with an eSports organization, however, after reading some more articles and talking to the lawyer some more, I came to the conclusion that almost all of the contracts between players and teams look very similar to this.
What are the main issues?
First of all, players are hired as freelancers instead of employees in order for the teams to have the least responsibility possible. What’s the problem here? Simple, the contract itself usually has a lot of terms that give the team direct control about everything the player does from streaming hours to sponsored events, while freelancers are supposed to have complete freedom in those departments.
Another big issue is that although players sometimes get a salary, it’s usually very low and the team still makes way more money than the players. It creates situations where players make less then minimum wage while the team becomes quite rich. Or, if we’re talking about the top of the top, the players make pretty good money, but the team is making millions.
There are a lot more problems, like the inability of the players to leave the team even if the team isn’t honoring the contract and all kinds of draconian terms that I don’t have the time to write about all of them right now.
After reading all of this (good job btw!) you are probably asking yourself why the hell do the players agree to such terrible contracts? The answer is simple: they don’t have a choice! No one else is offering better deals and if they want to achieve their dream and play competitively, they need to sacrifice normal worker-employee conditions and take whatever they can find.
Another reason for this problem is that there are 1000 times more players that want to compete than teams who are looking for players. If a player is being stubborn and fights a company for a better deal, they can just send him away and look for another player who might be a bit less skilled, but will agree to their terms. That player who fought the company now needs to look for another one, but there aren’t that many top tier teams who are looking for players (and definitely not players who god forbid demand good contracts).
I realize that not all teams are looking to screw over their players, but I’m very sad to tell you that most of them do. What’s worse is that even if a team is offering a good deal to a player, that deal isn’t even that good compared to regular sports or even normal jobs.
OK, so I understand the system is rotten. How do we change it?
Here’s where my story continues. In one of the conversations with my lawyer, I told him that I want to offer players fair contracts that don’t screw them over and asked him if that’s possible to do. He told me that it’s very possible and he even encourages it.
“Great!” I thought, “Now I just need to find a way to create a fair contract. How about I give the players percentages in the company so whenever the money will start to flow, everyone will get a fair share?”
After thinking for a second, my lawyer replied: “Nah, that’s probably going too far. You can get players to join you and make a fair contract without the need for that”.
But why not? Why not do it? If you think about it, a competitive team is like any other startup: a bunch of entrepreneurs are taking a chance and try to make it big (the players). They need someone to handle the business side of things so they look for a CEO (the team). Then, if they are good enough in what they do, they can start looking for investors (sponsors).
So this is my plan. Treat Creation eSports like a startup and find players who are willing to share the same vision that I have. Give them percentages of the company and rise to fame together. Now obviously it’s not realistic to have several teams for several games and give them all percentages of the company, because there just isn’t enough to give. But giving percentages for all the revenue that comes in from their specific game is definitely doable and fair.
I can still understand players who are looking for the big teams to give them a small salary and maybe some money if they succeed, but in my opinion that model is far inferior to sacrifice a bit of initial profit in order to earn 100 times more in the future.
I may be the only one who is willing to do something like that now, but if other companies like creation eSports will rise, eventually all the other ones will have to follow suit. When the traditional companies will see that no one is willing to play for them because someone else is offering a much better deal, they will change their ways or become extinct.
I hope that I shed some light on the industry and how we can change it for the better. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to write them here or send them to: email@example.com.
I’m looking forward to discuss this with you guys so bring it on :)
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