Why Are First-Person Shooters Not As Watched As Other eSports

Dave LeClair 21-10-2013

First-person shooters Important First Person Shooters That Evolved The Genre [MUO Gaming] First and third person shooters are the most popular genre in the video game world right now. Call of Duty and Halo have the charts on lock down, and games like Battlefield and Crysis are... Read More are far and away one of the most popular competitive video games 4 Games With Steep Learning Curves That Are Worth The Effort Learning competitive games is no easy task. If the act of mastering them was easy, everyone would be playing professionally. However, even if you might never make it to that high level of play, you... Read More out there. Every year when a new Call of Duty game hits the scene, it sets some kind of record for fastest selling entertainment property. In spite of this, first-person shooters can’t even approach RTS and MOBAs in terms of popularity for being watched on sites like Twitch How To Live Stream Your Gaming Sessions Using Open Broadcaster Software Live streams have become all the rage these days in the world of gaming, and with Open Broadcaster Software you can join in with your own streaming sessions for the world to watch. Read More .


Sure, FPS games have big tournaments, but they barely make a blip on the radar compared to events like the International and League Of Legends 3 League Of Legends Champions You Will Want To Be Playing With September and October coming up as the biggest months in competitive League of Legends history, it's time for you to get interested! It's the biggest online game in the world! Read More championships. Why? Simply because FPS games are not the most watchable games. The perspective and type of battles that happen don’t work as well as watching a squad of units in an RTS or a team in a MOBA. Can this be fixed? Maybe.

The View

In a MOBA or strategy game, the view the players sees is identical to that of the spectator. The top down view lets spectators see what is happening across the battlefield, which is perfect for watching. In a shooter, each players sees only what his on-screen character sees, which greatly limits the view to spectators. Not being able to see the battlefield as a whole means the viewer is missing a lot of the action.


I saw a great analogy on Reddit that describes this problem perfectly. Imagine trying to watch an American football game (or any sports match for that matter) from only the perspective of a single player. This would be terrible, and that’s exactly the situation faced in FPS games.

The solution

Game developers who want their shooter to take off in the eSports scene need to develop a broadcast/spectator mode that works like a MOBA. This would allow viewers to see the whole battlefield, and of course, broadcasters could zoom in to individual player perspectives when the timing is right. It would require practice and skill to broadcast a shooter, but it could certainly be done if the game’s creator takes the time to build it as a key part of their game.


The Speed and Twitch Nature of the Games

Generally, a good FPS player does things at an incredibly high rate of speed. From the aforementioned first-person view, this can be hard to watch, as it can actually be nauseating. Changing the camera angle as I mentioned above would help solve that, as it would prevent you from seeing the players twitch movements, but at the same time, that raises another problem where you are actually missing a great deal of the skill in a shooter. Outside of the tactics, the main skill in a shooter is actually how fast you can point and aim, and this is really hard to capture in a way that feels comfortable to the viewer.

The fact is, you cannot fundamentally change the way a shooter plays just to accommodate viewers. A convenient side effect of games like MOBAs, RTS, and fighters is that they lend themselves well to viewing, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to make shooters work, it just means no one has thought of it yet.

Possible Solution

This solution might be sort of a catch all, but it could help: adding a delay. This allows broadcasters to be slightly behind, and if controlled automatically, it could know when a kill is going to happen and zoom into the killers perspective at the right time. This would allow viewers to see the skill from the players view without sticking there long enough to be nauseating. It’s not a perfect solution, but it just might help.

Map Knowledge Too Important



In order to follow the action in a shooter, you really need to understand the map. Not knowing the map makes it nearly impossible to understand what is happening. There’s a reason every soccer field looks the same, because the viewer always knows what to expect. In American football, the 50 yard line is always halfway up the field. In shooters, that goes away, which makes it hard for players to follow the game.

The Solution

The solution to this is simple: simplify the maps, or only include one map. The obvious problem is a shooter with one map would not be very fun to play. A single map works fine in a MOBA because the action is not dictated by the map, but by the characters.


A game developer will certainly figure out how to make a shooter work well as a spectator event, but it just hasn’t happened yet. There is too much money floating around out there in the eSports world for someone not to, but it will take time. As someone who watches more Dota 4 Methods For Dota 2 Players To Keep Track Of Stats In the world of Dota 2, stats are incredibly important. Read More than he cares to admit, and plays even more shooters than that, I really hope it happens, as a shooter tailor-made for spectating would be awesome.

Do you think I am wrong, and that shooters make great spectators games as they are? Feel free to explain why in the comments, or sound off with your thoughts on the issue overall.


Image Credits: Joshua Livingston Via Flickr

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  1. Mike
    October 24, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Seriously? Comparing a FPS to a sport is ridiculous.

  2. Trilla L
    October 23, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    some users over on the ESEA forums have been discussing this article, and i would like to provide you with some of their opinions below:

    "The analogy he made where he compares CS to football is beyond unfair. Plus, who wouldn't wanna watch a first-person view of a QB making a great pass?

    He talks about adding a delay and have it switch to players that are in the process of fragging. This already exists.

    "The solution to this is simple: simplify the maps, or only include one map." Yeah why not, let's just play dust2 forever expect let's throw away long A and the B bombsite and just have everyone go mid... The map pool is already relatively small and "simplifying" a map isn't as simple as this guy makes it sound.

    However, it would be interesting to see a third person view of a team executing a bombsite take with timed smokes and flashes." - Badgers

    "[...] FPS shooters are not incredibly difficult to understand. In fact, they are by far the easiest eSports to watch. League of Legends and DotA 2 are incredibly complex and they still retain a high number of spectators (largely due to their high playerbase). FPS shooters fell out of the limelight for a number of reasons – but none of them were to them not being spectator friendly." - cheetah^M

    another subject that was brought up several times is that DotA and LoL are far much more difficult for a new spectator to understand- the reason they're so popular as an esport is by and large due to their incredibly expansive and very dedicated playerbase.

    my suggestion as an fps player and enthusiast is that you try watching a match between two top tier teams- casters handle themselves very well, and the games are enjoyable to watch. some recommendations: - NiP vs. Quantic Gaming, de_inferno - NiP vs. VeryGames, de_nuke

    - trilla

  3. Manuth C
    October 22, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Is the first photo a mockup from Somalia or Afghanistan?

  4. Dr.Cheap Shot
    October 21, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    I seem to remember Americas Army had a good spectator mode, nice aerial view where you could see the whole map and individual view. Other than that I would much rather play than watch anyway.