With professional esports teams looking to strengthen their revenue streams and sweeten deals with sponsors/partners, new merchandise has been hitting the market in fairly regular waves. The latest and greatest being a few new esports/gaming shoes from Adidas and PUMA.

The two went in wildly different directions in approach however, illustrating how well they know (or don't) the wants and needs of #gamers. Adidas, who used their partnered with NINJA last year launched his branded shoe and went the route of "cool design". PUMA took a different stance, as they avoided partnering with anyone and made the bold (and futile) claim that their shoe can "help" gamers improve their performance.

Which brings up an interesting facet of esports - Fashion vs function. As esports continues to edge into the mainstream limelight alongside traditional sports entertainment properties, people seem to think the same tactics will prevail. The thing is, esports are not the same as traditional sports. Although there are physical demands on players, they are not the same as traditional sports in most ways. A specialized shoe is not going to affect a player's performance or reduce any physical strain a player will face. The weird thing is, none of the so-called gaming/esports shoes to hit the market in recent memory are even IoT devices. Hell, Nike has had a connected shoe for running for years. You mean to tell me you are making overpriced specialized shoes for gamers and they aren't even connected somehow?    

Fashion vs Function

Here are a few products which battle back and forth on the Fashion vs Function battlefield. Gaming shoes seem to be all the rage these days - the ultimate fashion accessory to some. Or a super-gadget enabling you to become the next Faker?

Likely just a style item...

IMMORTALS GEN-K ICON KNIT by KSWISS

KSWISS learned quickly that their partnership with Immortals to create their GEN-K ICON KNIT shoe should not be approached from a technical standpoint. When the shoe was first released, they went down the same rabbit hole PUMA is currently lost down. All mentions of "superior technology for gaming, keeping your feet airy and light" have been removed from their website.

Instead, they have opted to go the route Adidas has taken and pivot to a more style and image conscious marketing strategy. They position the shoes for "a new class of up-and-comers and entrepreneurs who are driven by their passions and lead with style."


NINJA NITE JOGGER SHOE by ADIDAS

These are the new NINJA shoes. They reportedly sold out within a few hours (although quantities remain unknown). The shoe is available both in children and adult sizes. Design-wise, they are world's apart from the Immortals shoes. No understated and hidden graphics here. These are bright, in-your-face ninja slippers.

Again, Adidas went for style here. Sure, they packed it with their standard technology as far as building materials are concerned. But they didn't position these as anything more than a style item - hence them belonging under the Adidas Originals brand, bringing cultural phenomena to life.


Active Gaming Footwear by PUMA

The fabled $120 USD slipper-gaming-shoe-sock-thing....

Why not just wear socks? Or slippers? Hell, Ilyes 'Stephano' Satouri used to bring a piece of carpet from home and take off his shoes and play in his socks so it was just like home. These PUMAs are just...bad. I mean, they even went so far as to say these shoes have different modes:

  • Medial wrap-up grip in SEEK mode
  • Lateral wrap-up support in ATTACK mode
  • Heel wrap-up stability in CRUISE and DEFENSE mode

What?

The only real saving-grace for this being an actual thing is that it is placed under PUMA's 'Motorsport' category. So it is arguable that you could use these if you are a sim-racer. But then why not just buy actual driving shoes?


Tournament-grade Snake Oil

Then you have special cases. Cases where people (in the instance below, "fellow gamers") create things that simply take advantage of people's fandom. It's sad to see, and is blatantly obvious to most. However, some fans are blinded by their level of standom and simply do not see (or want to) the shameful acts taking place.

The launch of CLOAK by Mark 'Markiplier' Fischbach and Seán 'Jacksepticeye' McLoughlin is a prime example. The clothing line launched by two highly respected gaming influencers was just plain sad. PUMA missed the mark, yes, but it still seemed slightly well-intentioned, if not just extremely uninformed. But these two should know better.

Introducing...

Do they even buy it?

Many gaming influencers tend to attract young audiences who do not have to awareness or knowhow to vet and verify claims like this, let alone by people they idolize. And mom and dad just don't get it, you know? Which makes them easy prey for overpriced snake oil.

It is incredibly sad because they likely could have spent that money on something better that actually would help them in their own gameplay.

Peak Performance

If you really want 'gaming technology' to help you succeed in esports, spend your money on things that actually matter. Hoping for a placebo effect from some overpriced slippers from PUMA or a "well fitting top" from CLOAK isn't a very wise investment.

Here are a few items you can actually spend money on that will make a world of difference for your gameplay - assuming you don't already have the best of the best.

Computer - Speed is important. CPU, GPU, RAM, MB, etc. Standards and requirements change and you need to stay on top so latency and low FPS aren't holding you back.

Monitor - Don't let your monitor become a latency bottleneck in your setup. Getting a monitor that can keep up with modern gameplay is a must-have.

Peripherals - A good mouse, keyboard, headset, and mousepad are essential to frictionless gameplay, just like your computer and monitor.

Chair - This is somewhat of a sensitive topic, because you likely should go the route of Complexity and go for "the world's best chair" - a Herman Miller. Many of the gaming-branded chairs are not actually good at keeping you in a healthy posture.

Desk - This is getting a little granular now, but a good stable and spacious platform at the right height for you is still important to maintaining a healthy posture.


Realistically peak performance relies on a number of controllable and uncontrollable factors. We have barely covered the tip of the iceberg. Human performance optimization and enhancement is a whole new world of "what can I do to get an edge?".

Ill just leave this here...

SteelSeries gaming glove - a glove similar to weight-lifting gloves with the finger portions completely removed. Completely useless.
SteelSeries Gaming Glove...because reasons.

This is an area where esports has a long way to go to catchup to mainstream traditional sports.

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