Last week a top eSports League, ESL, announced the founding of the World ESports Association (WESA); an organization with the goal of professionalizing the rapidly expanding market of esports and competitive gaming. This organization, in theory, would function as a regulatory body similar to those in football and golf, like FIFA and the IGF respectively. With the resurgent growth of professional competitive gaming to our modern esports I’m sure that we can agree that the premise is much needed and has a lot of parties interested, but is what’s being proposed by WESA to meet this need an effective strategy to achieve the goal?
According to the WESA website they are “… an open and inclusive organization that will further professionalize esports by introducing elements of player representation, standardized regulations, and revenue shares for teams. WESA will seek to create predictable schedules for fans, players, organizers and broadcasters, and for the first time bring all stakeholders to the discussion table.”
This sort of organization that can stabilize scheduling, enact regulation, moderate competitive events, and enforce the agreed rules is exactly what any esports player, organizer, stakeholder, or fan would want to see exist. However based on the information that’s been made available it’s starting to seem like WESA, while based in good intention, may be taking a less than optimal path to being that organization.
With the intent to allow a player council comprised entirely of actively competing players to be the largest determining factor in the establishment of the rules and regulations, with admittedly little oversight, it should be no surprise that it’s drawing a lot of scrutiny and being seen as the largest fundamental flaw in their plan. What this means is that eight teams could potentially decide the fate of all participants in WESA sanctioned events, from formatting and competition rules down to a team’s eligibility to compete. While I have a lot of respect for the teams selected to participate in the council, this situation allows for far too much potential for abuse, regardless of intent. Should the teams have some level of input, yes absolutely, but it feels as though WESA intends to give them command rather than a voice.
While esports are in dire need of an organization that can deliver what WESA is promising, it’s arguably being done with whole steps being skipped in the process that could cripple the attempt before it ever gets fully off the ground. Commissioner and Executive Board involvement being minimal, independent teams are going to be expected to trust and agree with rules and policy made by some of the top teams with a vested interest in protecting their place on the leaderboards. So again we face a major hurdle in the attempt to legitimize and even level the playing field while avoiding more esports drama and scandal. Is there still hope for WESA, I think so yes – but some reorganization is desperately needed for it to be the big win for gamers and enthusiasts it hopes to be.
What’s your take, do you agree with WESA’s method?
Do you feel that esports needs a regulatory body at all?
Tell us in the comments, or on our subreddit.