Even though Battlerite hasn’t even entered beta yet, a lot of people — including myself — keep talking about what the game needs to do to be successful. For example, the reduction in number of abilities and the change to 2v2 format are likely meant to increase the game’s accessibility to newbies and spectators.
But there’s one important question that nobody is really asking: what exactly does “success” mean for a game like Battlerite?
There are any number of metrics we could use, like Steam’s average peak concurrent players or the total number of players who participate in a given Ranked season. And even after deciding on a metric, we then have to decide what value to use as the milestone for success.
Personally, I think average peak concurrent players is the best way to go. It most accurately measures the total interest in the game, including those who only play in-houses and those who log in to chat with friends but don’t really play any games outside of, say, tournaments.
So how many concurrent players would indicate that Battlerite has made it? The first milestone should be breaking BLC’s best record, which was around 2k-3k peak if I remember right. Next milestone could be breaking into Steam’s Top 100 games, which would require about 1.7k during off-hours. Beyond, who knows!
Not only that, but success can mean different things depending on which aspect of the game we’re talking about. It’s one thing to think of success in terms of “how many people play this game” and another thing altogether to think of success in terms of “how well this game performs as an esport”.
Because the truth is that the game could potentially draw in a large playerbase that fills up the queues every day and lasts for years to come, yet be a complete flop in the esports scene. I think of games like Rocket League and Guild Wars 2, which both have a lot of players but struggle to establish stable competitive scenes due to reasons.
On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine how Battlerite could succeed as an esport with a small playerbase, so between the two, I suppose it’s more important to foster a large non-competitive community and hope that it feeds into whatever competitive scene develops thereafter.
In the context of esports, I’d say that success is determined by whether or not top-level players can make a living by playing full-time. The good news is that this could be possible even if Battlerite never breaks the popularity of games like League of Legends or CS:GO (unlikely, to say the least).
What’s nice about Battlerite’s 2v2 format is that the scene should theoretically be less expensive to run. Now, I’m no business expert so I could be completely wrong about this, but in terms of team acquisitions and player salaries, it would cost less to provide for two players versus five players. Similarly, with prize pools and sponsor money, each player gets more when it only needs to be divided between two than five.
It might take a few years to reach that point, but I think it’s highly doable — especially if there’s a lot of help and injection from Stunlock, just as Riot, Valve, and Blizzard have done for their games.
What would Battlerite’s success look like to you? At what point will we be able to stop saying “we’ll get there soon” and start saying “we’re here”? How does it look different between the game’s success and the esport scene’s success?