Is it just me or has the whole industry stagnated?
I've been on a hiatus for just under 2 years now, dealing with personal issues and even before I went on hiatus I hadn't bought any new gear in at least 2 years, and I just got on a few shopping venues and it looks to me like its all the same old stuff. I know that some of the higher end markers have had at least one "new" version come out in that time, but everything else is pretty much the same.
Once was a time we'd see a few new products coming out each year, a new mask, a new marker model, new hoppers, whatever. I look now and see that the I4 is the latest mask out for their line since 2008. Tippmann X7, 2010.
Then I look at the news section here, and I don't see much of anything.
Am I just missing all the cool stuff, or are companies just kind of floating by now trying to milk what they can before closing shop?
The inudstry should stagnate. The leaps and bounds "advancement" during the last decade frequently ignored any standards and rules that were intended to limit what could be done with technology. When the rules got inconvenient for the manufacturers the rules were rewritten. Maybe we have finally gotten to a point where the sport will set its rules and the manufacturers will build equipment that fits those rules rather than changing the rules, changing the game, and "forcing" the players to new equipment.
the paintball world had a GREAT offseason.
Kee is releasing 3 new markers
-Vanquish (super high end tourny gun)
-Resurrection (high level mech autococker)
-JT Impulse (mid/high level thing that XSV is shooting this season)
Planet Eclipse just released their newest Ego... the LV1, its a major overhaul of the system
Bob Long came out with the Vcom, a Spool Engine and Poppit Engine for his Vic's
Masks... not much recently, except the Eflex last season (event lens, flex bottoms)
Hoppers... Virtue released their Spire at the end of last season/start of this season, its amazing, they just released the high capacity shell too, Rotors have most of the market too, Halo B's are worth $20-$40 now... (last one i bought was over $100 hahahaha)
oh and a few newer companies have come out and are pushing parts/guns/softgear
-HK sells nice soft gear, have a full product line (not just screen print shirts/headbands)
-J4 is attempting to release a whole new market platform
-Engler Customs is dropping new tippy setups like every month...
It WAS stagnated, but it had a revival this winter!
There may be a lot of stuff you don't care about, but there's new stuff from CCM, CCI, Gog, Tiberius, Tippmann, Bob Long, Empire and Dye. Much of it is First Strike markers or re-engineered platforms, but at least they are more than mildly updated iterations.
You can get thermal lenses in Vforce goggles and Empire has a new version of pro-flexes out. Not stupendous changes, but nice ones.
There are some interesting markers in development, like the J4 and T15 in the news section. Even if nothing becomes of any of the new stuff, at least the wheels are spinning.
I thought the industry was doing better than the previous few years in terms of new-tech-to-market. I had more hopes for loaders, but considering I play at least half the time with $5-$10 piece of plastic, I can't complain much about the lack of a nice sub-$100 electronic loader.
Agreed the sport is just starting to evolve again. 2012 was a great hardware year, 2013 looks to build upon 2012.....nice!
Also new options for First Strike capable guns and magazine fed guns. CCM just released the first of it's line of pumps with an internal autotrigger.
^ not to mention they (CCM) also added the SR1 to their line-up.
Though I think what has changed drastically in the last two years is that the smaller guys (custom guns or accessories or anodizers etc etc) are or have been squeezed out for varying reasons. If they are still around, most are finding cash flow somewhat tough to come by to complete projects given the overall financial health of the economy.
Kingman: Hammer 7 (mag fed, pump, first strike shooter), MR5 (mag fed, semi, first strike shooter)
GoG: $129 eNMEy. Single finger trigger, mechanical antichop, clamping neck out of the box. Great shooter.
Scarab Arms: $30/100 first strike competitor. .50 ball inside a foam skirt compared to half a .68 in a plastic shell. Very interested to compare the two.
This year and last had some really nice releases and there are a few still yet to be available to be tested (J4).
However, the sport was in a "bubble"- as in a "housing bubble" as the newspapers kept going on about. We had something like ten years of pretty much double-digit growth. New fields, new companies, new markers sprang up like mushrooms after a rainfall, we had something like five major tourney series, the broadcasters were starting to pay more attention, and so on.
But then the economy crashed in '08. And through at least '10, the unemployment rate on the younger players (18-24 year olds) often reached 50%. Smart Parts got caught overextended with some heavy loans (riding the bubble as it were) and was forced into bankruptcy. That killed at least one of the top tourney series as well, and our own bubble burst right along with the economic bubble.
Companies lucky enough to stay in business during that time more or less hunkered down and saved what cash they could. R&D didn't get much funding, and even if they did, the players basically weren't there to buy another $1,200 marker.
So everybody just sort of waited out the storm, so to speak. Things are starting to pick up again, but we're not going to see double-digit growth again, certainly not anytime soon, probably not ever. Companies are looking at that and adjusting accordingly- it's more cost-effective to revamp an existing design than it is to develop an all-new design.
And when we were gaining 10,000 new players a month, there was a market for the ultra-new, but today, when player rolls are only barely growing, if at all, sales are slower. What we're seeing today is, instead of new players buying their first equipment, it's existing players buying an alternative.
Tourney players, finding fewer tourneys, are going with midlevel stuff and going back into rec play. Rec players are looking to upgrade from entry-level Tippys and Spyders into the same midlevel stuff. Existing midlevel players are looking for something new, and picking up fancy pumps or magfed pistols.
But overall, your general point isn't so much 'stagnation', it's refinement. There are just so many ways one can use to fire a paintball, and some of them are still covered by a series of patents. So companies are just refining existing designs, or reintroducing older designs not covered by copyright or patent (such as the new "Ressurection" 'Cocker.)
But as others have noted, stand by. There's some cool bits in the works. (Personally, I'm either working on or doing some heavy R&D for two new markers, both are niche-market guns, but may be game-changers if they work out. How's that for a teaser. :D )
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