After an exciting end to 2018, Rocket League is heading into what could be a make or break year for the game’s future as a top tier esport. The game has enjoyed screen time on TBS and NBC this year but still has plenty of room to grow.
2019 will be a year full of interesting plot lines and twists as the esport continues to develop and solidify its footing. Here are five stories to follow for the new year.
Free to Play Options
Psyonix announced that the motorized soccer game would be released as free to play in China through a partnership with Tencent in April of 2017. Nearing two years later the free to play option has yet to drop in China.
If the free release does come to fruition then it will create a big wave in the Rocket League ocean. There is a gigantic untapped market of potential Rocket League players in Asia and the free to play model is the only way to start drilling into it.
More than three years after its release the game still was one of Steam’s platinum sellers in 2018. It’s hard to fault Psyonix for leaving the mine with ore still cooking, but free to play could help Rocket League ascend to the next level of gaming. Opening up the game to a wider audience would also expose more people to the esport.
Many people within the community have expressed that the game should follow the example set forth by Fortnite and become free to play and generate revenue through keys and crates. It certainly makes sense. It might be time to let the game’s earnings come from Rocket Pass and crates instead of the $20 it costs to download it on Steam.
After Team SoloMid’s recent signing of We Dem Girlz, it can be easy to forget the complaints made by orgs about the lack of transparency about revenue sharing in the future. This will be a pressing issue for Psyonix in 2019. Growing the esport means partnering with bigger orgs and partnering with bigger orgs means accommodating them.
Psyonix announced the inclusion of org based items within the game, but that must only be the start. As Dignitas CEO Mark Prindiville told The Esports Observer:
“I still believe that Rocket League has Tier 1 IP potential. That’s no doubt. I believe that Rocket League could be the biggest esport in the world,” he said. “The thing with esports is that leading publishers of Tier 1 games are changing their ways. They’re starting to understand that there’s a real business there. I think the publishers that recognize that are the ones who are going to win. Those who neglect that may not, and they risk that. I’m not speaking directly about any publisher when I say that—I’m just saying that that’s how you win in esports.”
Psyonix needs to be more transparent with what’s going on behind the scenes to attract larger orgs.
Drippay’s Move to NA
Matt ‘Drippay’ Den-Kaat’s move from the OCE region to North American squad Evil Geniuses was the first of its kind in Rocket League history. He will be a test subject for every Rocket League player in a smaller region.
Drippay lands at an org where he’ll be paid a better salary, have better teammates and play in a world class gaming facility. The move was a no-brainer, but it also sets an interesting precedent for the future of player movement in Rocket League.
Will it become more common for a player to swap regions? Could smaller regions turn into farm systems for bigger orgs? Will OCE esports orgs feel more pressure to pay their players? If Drippay does poorly will it scare other players away from moving orgs? Will he do well and inspire EU & NA teams to scout smaller regions more closely?
If Drippay knocks some socks off this season and the free version of the game lands in Asia it could be fertile land for Rocket League talent.
Feature image courtesy of Psyonix.
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