Why isn’t Rocket League much more popular in esports?

Does Rocket League have what it takes for a game to be popular in esports?

It might seem that Rocket has everything the game needs to be popular not only on streaming services but also on the electronic sports scene. It is exciting not only for the players but also for the viewers, its rules are simple to understand and which team will be successful depends only on skill.

However, it is often in vain to look for it on Twitch, and the success of professional games, although the audience cannot be complained about (the last stream from the third day of RLCS NA reached 1.1 million views), is not close to LoL, CS or PUBG. What is the reason for this?

Why isn’t RL everywhere?

One Reddit user with the nickname zensoma asked the community directly:

When writing the post, the player took into account the current popularity of the game and its position in esports. But he still couldn’t understand why it was not a huge phenomenon on a global scale. The responses of the players, and especially one of them from the user TryingToBeUmabrasive, point to not entirely obvious, but credible reasons for this state of affairs.

  1. Tenure and Uniqueness: If you look at the other top eSports, they’re all MOBAs, shooters of some sort, or fighting games. All three of these genres have been prominent basically since the dawn of eSports in the late 90s. That means that these games are in their third decade of eSports prominence. Rocket League on the other hand is essentially its own genre with no precedent (SARPBC was so obscure that it’s a stretch to even call it a cult classic) that’s just about six years old. You simply don’t overtake quarter-century-old genres that quickly. Think of everyone who has picked up any sort of shooting game in the last 30 years—FPS eSports are inherently more familiar/attractive to them and no such analogue exists for RL.

  2. Accessibility: DotA, LoL, CS:GO, have all been free since before the first line of RL’s code was written. And they all run on absolute potatoes and are designed for mouse and keyboard. Compare that to RL, which cost $15 until like a year a go, needs at least somewhat decent hardware to run and practically begs to be played on a controller. All of these things have a huge negative impact on the game’s success in tons of overseas markets, which is of course a huge component in any eSport’s success.

  3. Skill Transference: (in short, the point describes the lack of any RL predecessor and the need to play from the beginner level, without the possibility of using the skills from previous games – editor’s note)

  4. Cutthroat Nature of the Game/Lack of a Rotating Meta: Most of the top eSports have some kind of ‘hero’ or ‘champion’ system and/or some inherent randomness that allows a new player to compensate for gaps in their playstyle, which kind of helps the player stick through the game during the early, rough part of their time playing it. Additionally, most of these games constantly have new heroes and/or balance patches that keep things ‘fresh.’ RL has none of this. At the risk of sounding like a hipster, Rocket League is almost too skill-based for a lot of modern gamers. And any attempt to change this part of the game would result in the game’s competitive integrity being thrown out the window. I like to call this the ‘Quake Problem’ since this is essentially the reason why arena shooter games are dead.

Overall, the player states that Rocket has the most esports potential of any game on the market today. As a reason, he mentions not only the ease of understanding the rules or the pleasure of watching but most of all the lack of any alternative for this type of gameplay. Who knows, maybe in a few years we will witness a huge LoL Worlds-like event in a familiar rocket-car edition?