BY Andrew Miesner / December 7, 2009

When most think of gaming, in their heads they think of a PS3, PC, or Xbox 360. For me and I’m sure many of you, I picture a LAN tournament or a large event with games spanning across all three major  platforms. Unfortunately, within the latest couple of years, these tournaments have diminished into only one or two a year from what used to be ten or eleven a few years ago, why you ask? Like many other things, the recession in the United States has affected gaming, more specifically professional gaming and the organizations on teams and the people who put together the tournaments.

Gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry, with prindividual/s and teams who play games being sponsored and endorsed by many companies. Take MLG for example, a few years ago we were hearing about their first six-figure contract being signed with a highly-skilled individual for Halo 2.  Compare this to today, are there even talks of a six-figure salary inside of gaming anymore? No, its almost completely unheard of in the gaming realm now-a-days.  Also what about the prize money that we used to see at tournaments around the world, with tournament platforms including WSVG and ESWC giving first place prize monies of upwards of forty or fifty thousand US Dollars!  Compare this to more recent tournaments like Dreamhack where the first place prize for the Counter-Strike 1.6 tournament only totalled out to be around fifteen thousand US Dollars, where has all the money gone you ask?  It has dissapeared with the domestic and International recession, and this has affected many of the teams in the United States who used to compete in the highest ranks around the world.

Enough with the tournament payout nonsense, lets make this a little more closer to home.  Who dominates the International Counter-Strike scene? Europe and Asia are great guesses, why do you think that is?  I can tell you first hand it is not a skill or talent deficit because the United States has some of the best Counter-Strike players in the world, why do you think that Europe and Asia dominate the Counter-Strike leader boards…?  The answer lies within the funding, no team can make it overseas without funding for travel, and expenses.  Money is the largest deciding factor inside of professional E-Sports, plain and simple.  This brings me back to the sponsors and endorsements that professional E-Sports teams receive, almost 100% of travel and expenses were paid for by these sponsors and endorsements.  Without money, an organization, more specifically a professional E-Sports organization, cannot function, and if they cannot properly function, they in lamest terms, die.  This is why you do not see many big names in E-Sports competing in tournaments overseas or domestically, there just isn’t money to fund the travel and entry-fees associated with the few tournaments that happen. 

Luckily a few teams from the United States made their presence known at recent tournaments giving sponsors a reason to get back to their roots of gaming, but the recession is killing the hopes and dreams of many young aspiring professional E-Sports stars.  How could this have happened to some of the biggest organizations in the United States?  How could we let our own E-Sports family down like this?  It wasn’t our fault, its the economy’s fault that these young stars cannot attend as many tournaments as they used to.  No one could have forseen this coming for the E-Sports community, like many Americans, we are struggling to make things happen for the E-Sports world.  Slowly but surely more events are popping up out of the woodworks, with new sponsors, and new funding, and more professional E-Sports organizations are coming back alive with the help of these new sponsors.  The stock market is beginning to go back up, a sure sign that our economy is getting better in light of the standing recession, we will get through this, and we will see these big names come back and help get the United States competitive gaming scene back on track, we just need to wait and hope that they still have the will to come back and represent the United States as they once did.