Is Paintball a Dying Sport? Here’s What You Should Know


You don’t have to be a keen observer to notice that people’s interest in paintball is on a steady decline. Sure, many people are still playing the game, but most of them are core players dedicated to the sport. And, without new players on the field, we can’t help but wonder if paintball is a dying sport, right?

Paintball is not a dying sport, but the interest is at a steady decline. Fewer people get into the game, but many dedicated players continue to promote it whenever possible. So, paintball won’t run out of players anytime soon, but several factors continue to make it less appealing for some people.

We’ll discuss all of these factors in great detail to understand why many people lost interest in this sport. Stick around because this article might change your perception of the game and help you understand what you need to do to make it more interesting again.

Why Are People Losing Interest in Paintball?

Is it temporary? Is it artificial? Is it even true that people are losing interest in the game? These are important questions that we need to answer if we want to figure out where paintball stands in the grand scheme of things. So, let’s discuss the three factors that affect people’s interest in paintball.

The Economy of Paintball

Paintball is fun, but it certainly isn’t cheap.

You have to spend money on your gear, which can already be expensive on its own, especially if you want to have the fanciest stuff. Add that to the recurring expense of field admissions and paintballs, and what you’ll get is quite an expensive hobby.

Now, that wouldn’t be a problem under normal circumstances; many people spend a chunk of their disposable cash on hobbies. However, if you look at the trend below, paintball has been steadily declining since 2004 — just when Google started monitoring trends.

google trends of paintball search term
Google search term trend for paintball is on a steady decline since its peak 15 years ago.

There were a few spikes in interest from 2004 to 2007, and it was still much higher compared to other sports. But it “flatlined” during the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009.

One of the critical factors in paintball’s success is disposable income (money that players are free to spend). The better the economy gets, the easier it’ll be for enthusiasts to play, and the higher people’s interest gets.

It wasn’t good back then, and sadly, we’re going through another economic downturn. People aren’t keen on spending, especially if they are uncertain about their income sources, which can only worsen people’s interest in paintball.

There are some cheaper options than buying new paintball gear though, that will save you a lot of money. Check here for Cost Breakdown to Rent Paintball Gear – Compared to Buying article.

Politics

Have you wondered why there was a shift in the naming convention for paintball guns? We all know them as paintball guns, but more and more people are calling them paintball markers. The reason for this shift? Politics.

The industry has been through several reforms to distance the sport from violence and terrorism. Manufacturers are now calling their products paintball markers instead of paintball guns. That’s because firearms have been under scrutiny over the years, which significantly affected paintball’s popularity.

Another “political factor” happened within the paintball community itself. In the past, there were hundreds of companies offering various products for enthusiasts. The innovation was at its peak. But lawsuits after lawsuits and anti-competitive practices by more prominent companies caused the innovation to plateau, making it less interesting for many players.

Both of these factors are beyond the control of avid players, and there’s nothing that we can do about it. But there are still a few things that we can do to counter the impact of politics on paintball’s popularity.

Other Sports and Games

There are two sides to this factor, but both are responsible for the dwindling interest in paintball. The first is the number of available sports that are less expensive and less political. When people talk about it, they usually talk about airsoft, gel blasters, and other similar sports, but I see it differently.

You check the comparison between paintball and gel blasters here.

You see, every sport that becomes more interesting for people can take a portion of the interest in paintball. It doesn’t have to be similar; it can be rock climbing, skiing, and even skateboarding. These sports are as intense but less expensive and less political. One person who gets into any of these sports is one less person who can be an active paintball player.

Another factor that many people fail to mention is the rise of gaming. More and more people prefer console (Xbox, Playstation, and Nintendo), mobile (smartphones and tablets), or PC gaming. Although totally unrelated, all of these eat up most of our free time. We all have limited time, and the more time we spend on the couch, playing games means less time for other activities like paintball.

These small cultural changes took a lot of time to affect people’s interest in paintball, but it’s happening. And if you look at the trend, people have even more reason today to avoid outdoor activities. Even people who prefer QCB-style skirmishes have the option to play more immersive first-person shooting games today.

Video: Airsoft vs Paintball

The Future of the Paintball Industry

Although there’s a steady decline in people’s interest in paintball, there are still millions of enthusiasts who are playing the sport.

In fact, if you look at paintball forums, most of them are still as active as ever. People dedicated to the sport will remain avid players, so personally, I don’t think paintball will run out of players any time soon.

But we can’t deny that there’s competition — not between paintball companies but a competition against other sports. Sure, paintball isn’t dying because of the core group of active players promoting the game. However, if we don’t do anything to get new people “hooked” into this sport, then it’s only a matter of time before paintball starts to become a dying sport.

What Can We Do To Make Paintball Interesting Again?

For dedicated players, paintball never lost its greatness. But even hardcore paintball players will stop playing at some point. And if we don’t get enough new players into the sport, it’ll continue to decline.

When I started playing paintball, I felt intimidated by the other players. They are vastly more experienced; they have better gear and fancier guns. In short, I’m way out of my league, and there’s no way I can compete with these pros. But I was lucky enough to meet a group that made me feel welcome and comfortable.

The camaraderie made me come back next week, and the week after that, and before I even knew it, I fell in love with the sport. The way I see it, there are only two routes that we can take:

  • Promote the game whenever we get the chance and make other players feel welcome and comfortable, or
  • Just let all the factors I discussed affect people’s interest in the game and let it continue to decline.

We all know that paintball is a great sport, and the core players won’t lose their interest in the game. But other people — those who aren’t into paintball yet — won’t find it interesting unless we make it so. And if we don’t do it, we may be the last generation to play the game we all love.

Conclusion

Paintball is not a dying sport because the core players will remain active in playing the game. But the other people’s interest dwindled to the point that there are very few people searching about it. If we want to make it interesting, we have to promote the sport whenever we have the chance.

The factors I shared with you are all beyond our control. But what we can control is our behavior towards new players. Let’s make them feel welcome and comfortable, and just like me, they might come back next week and the week after that.

Recent Posts