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Overwatch

Posts Tagged ‘Overwatch’

Have we seen the passing of the golden age of airsoft?

It’s a thought that has been bothering me more and more. Airsoft in the UK faces pressures from all sides, and in some regions struggles to continue.

We had the VCR act passed and its assault on liberties. The threat to completely remove our hobby was narrowly averted by concerted action by retailers, sites and players. The bastard offspring of that stalwart defence, UKARA, continues to this day. A de facto licensing of airsofters without which it is nigh on impossible to obtain equipment for your hobby. Run and maintained by a cabal of retailers it’s short history is already tarnished with claims and counter claims of sites punished for offering memberships and other sites not punished for similar breaches. The stranglehold on the UK airsoft scene is undeniable, a power which is controlled by several retailers which exist in a competitive environment where they seek to maximise profit. It does not leave you with a comfortable feeling.

As for the airsoft guns themselves. China, long the source of cheap kit which enabled players to enter the hobby inexpensively cracked down on the producers. Either for breaches of law or more likely failure to pay off the correct officials. This saw a drought in the £100 region of AEGs which has continued to this day. As with all pricing habits, UK retailers seem to have maintained the higher pricing that resulted from the crackdowns.

Sites seemed to be springing up all over the place at one point. You could always find a site that you had never heard of before somewhere in the UK. Now, in similar fashion to the dot.com bust we seem to be seeing consolidation by the major players. The larger companies are grabbing every available site for their portfolio, and more and more single site operators seem to be going to the wall. With Council planning permissions increasingly difficult to obtain thanks to Daily Mail reading nimbys and left wing gun hating lentil munchers we are faced with a dwindling variety of sites as everyone is swallowed up by the Tescos and Wal-Mart of Airsoft operators.

So we seem to be entering a phase of commercialisation of the hobby. Is it all bad?

Not necessarily.

Larger site operators have more resources and have a depth of experience, so hopefully well thought our game days that hold your interest (and yes, better toilets!). The Internet allows players to purchase kit globally which will hopefully limit UK retailers prices becoming astronomical.

We are becoming mainstream. You are the norm. No longer some dodgy activity on the back of a farm that locals think is a paramilitary training camp but a legitimate hobby that brings leisure money into the economy.

Lastly, the best hope is you. The players. We are increasing in numbers. We will continue to as long as we keep making sites welcome for others to join, because that is the life blood of the hobby. Noobs. Without them rejuvenating the stock of people who play, and ultimately who pay for airsoft, we will dwindle to irrelevance and find ourselves ignored, and then outlawed.

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