At the RLCS8 World Championships in Madrid, we had the opportunity to speak with Josh Watson, Senior Manager of Global Esports for Rocket League at Psyonix. He was kind enough to sit down with us and answer some of our questions.
Daily Esports: A lot of RLCS fans are being reached by the advertisement when RLCS is going on, but the people who are not into Rocket League yet don’t know it’s happening. So are there any plans to increase advertisement efforts to reach more potential fans?
Josh Watson: We’ve done some pretty interesting things this season. We’ve tried some different advertising methods and we’re seeing success in a lot of different areas. We’re always exploring; we’re always trying to make the best possible product and one that people are gonna find and love. It’s one of those things that we’re constantly looking at. It’s one of the challenges for any esport. There’s probably tons of people that are gonna love this community, and it’s just about reaching them.
A couple of years ago competitive Rocket League was not ready for non-standard maps. Do you think it ever will be?
I listen to both camps on this, and I understand both of them really well. There’s the argument for a standardized map when you’re thinking of traditional sports like football. You’re gonna have a pretty standardized field, but when you come over to baseball, every field is different slightly. It’s similar but you have these variations and it adds to the game.
So personally speaking, I hope so. I think it brings a really interesting element. We’re always gonna listen to the fans and try to give everybody what they want, so we’ll see. That’s a long way to put that. (laughs) We’ll see.
We recently saw three OGs of the 1v1 scene in Fairy Peak, Scrub Killa, and OSM retire from 1s due to the lack of support. Do you think there will ever be a time where 1v1 is also covered in the RLCS?
I wouldn’t say (it will happen in) the RLCS. It’s an established league — we’re now eight seasons deep — so I don’t think that’s the platform for an entirely different game mode. The bigger question is about opportunities around 1v1 play, and we recognize there’s an immense amount of skill and incredibly precise decision-making. One of the challenges we encounter when doing an esport-type activation around it is that it can sometimes be difficult to get that viewing experience to have the same type of excitement because there is oftentimes a lot of scoring and it’s a lot of stop-and-go. So those are just challenges we have to tackle, but if the appetite is right, we’re always gonna consider it.
When we look at the engagement around that mode in-game, we certainly see that doubles is higher in played game mode, but that’s not to say it’s the only factor. But I certainly agree — there’s something so different about the 1v1 game mode, and I think there’s potential there. It’s just about making sure that is a pleasant experience for the viewer as well as the player.
Are there any plans for Fennec esports items?
We have seen the Fennec become more popular. Honestly, I haven’t looked too much into data around that; I’d be curious to see what the appetite for that is. I know the pros love it, but I’ll pass it along to development. (laughs)
How do you handle a big organization leaving the scene? Does that personally worry you?
I don’t worry about it per se. One of the things we always try to do when any org comes or leave is to develop a relationship so we can have open communication, because it is super valuable to look at every aspect of the esports ecosystem. So when an organization leaves, it’s really about why, what happened, and trying to figure out if it’s something that could’ve been changed or if it’s out of our hands. You want to make sure what you’re building is what you’re building together and is working for everyone.
How realistic is LAN league play?
That’s a big one. All of the major esports have moved to a LAN league play model. It’s certainly something we’ve considered; there are some potential hurdles around that, especially when you look at the age of our athletes. Some of our colleagues in the space are doing it with older athletes, and our entire model is about inclusivity and trying to include as many competitors as we can. So that’s why we see a world champion like Scrub Killa, because this environment allows for that. It’s certainly something we’re looking at, but there are some real implications around a LAN league play and the age our of competitors.
Is it then maybe more realistic to look at LAN regionals?
We’ve looked at how the post-season works and if that’s an option. I’m not a legal scholar or anything, but I think that’s probably an easier thing to do, in terms of legality. Ultimately we’re always trying to look for ways to improve things, so that’s definitely on our radar.