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Does Franchising in Esports Work?

Does Franchising in Esports Work?

    Last Updated on March 16, 2023

Franchising in Esports seems to perform well under giant titles like Valorant. Esports is a growing venture, and like any other league, is bound to losses and gains. With competition from all sides, the x-factor of your title needs to stand out. 

But that isn’t the only thing that brings in viewers, consistent support does too. When a dev team cares about their game, it’s natural that the community will. Going by this, how does the esports league flourish despite the competition?

Competing is in the spirit of video games since the first games. Placing a ranking on a game means people will vie for that top spot. It’s the same for modern esports, regardless of whether the score doesn’t define victory. 

The competition requires sustainability, and none have done it well like a franchise league. With companies like Blizzard Entertainment and Riot Games enacting franchise leagues, it’s time to understand what it is.

Pros and Cons of Franchising in Esports

Right away, franchising is seen as a benefit for esports as a whole. As with the North American franchise leagues, it offers lucrative opportunities for participating teams and players. Stability, continuity, and constant exposure are some benefits of franchised leagues. 

Investment and merchandise provide financial opportunities for teams. Players are guaranteed a definite salary and won’t be so reliant on tournament winnings.

The downside of franchising is that it doesn’t fully capture the atmosphere esports is known for. It is the absence of stability that incentivizes improvement from players, not that it’s a good thing. 

Having stakes like elimination adds stakes to any series, thus more viewers. With no pressure to perform, storylines are weaker, and organizations don’t have the incentive to reinvent. Thus, competition with franchised leagues is necessary.

Games Without Franchising

Image of a Dota 2 Stadium Franchising in Esports

Non-franchised esports leagues existed before the franchised ones. It is through these tournaments that modern esports received its deserved recognition. There are still big-time leagues in esports that operate without franchising. 

Some CSGO leagues, and Dota’s official Pro Circuit, operate without any franchising. Valve maintains a hands-off approach when it comes to its titles, with TOs having free rein on the shots.

Having no franchise means any player and team can play. Organizations are free to sponsor any competing team that is without any backers or support. Its drawback is the lack of stability, which incentivizes competition.

With relegation in place, teams fight tooth and nail to stay in league contention. However, the developers support these teams with microtransactions purchasable by fans. At the end of the day, tournament formats are not clear-cut. Esports leagues can flourish with franchising, while others can manage without it.

Franchising leagues reinvent their formats when competition steals their viewership away. It is healthy when both these styles improve each other as it means better for everyone. Players gain income and security while playing at the highest level of competition.

Fans can enjoy the best experience by both players and the quality of the broadcasts. Esports thrive because of competition while keeping the spirit of competition alive.

Written By
Jean Salgados

Spent all the years of his college writing for the school newspaper and transitioned to casting Dota 2 games shortly after graduation.

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