Community Answers: Why do players love spectator mode?

5 Posted by - April 26, 2013 - Engagement Activities, eSports

We asked. The community answered.

Why play a video game when you can just watch someone else play? That might sound counter-intuitive, but spectator mode has become a major feature of late, in part because it helped propel League of Legends into the stratosphere. Millions of people seem to enjoy dropping the interactive part of this interactive medium, and that begs the question…why?

So we put it to the Raptr community:


Here’s a sentiment we found to be pretty popular:


Over on Facebook, Jason Beaty elaborated on the theme. “I use spectator mode to watch the pros use champions that I either play or am considering playing,” he wrote, “so I can see builds and strategies that I might not have thought of.” Alice Williamson agreed, adding that sometimes she watched non-professional friends play as well. “It gives you more control over what you see than a stream does and the quality is generally much higher.”

And for those wistfully remembering the good ol’ days of 2004, Dakota Lee brought up his time spectating in Counter-Strike Source, saying it “showed me tactics and strategies I wouldn’t think of.”

On the other hand, some people use it to kick back and relax.


Facebook member Brian Merrick also added that he spectated during meal breaks. A few people had mixed thoughts about spectator mode’s two-minute offset, finding it annoying but understandable as an anti-cheating measure. Williamson also thought League’s UI “can be a bit confusing at first.”

In terms of features, a few community members came back with suggestions. “Replay and easier stats would be awesome,” said Lex Scheuble, a sentiment Allan Rosa mirrored. “[League of Legends] just lacks a good replay system,” said Rosa, “which I’m hoping to get off the Public Beta Environment soon!”

But leave it to someone to bring up StarCraft 2’s PeepMode, a fan-developed and fan-supported spectator mode, and the one thing it does that League doesn’t:


We’ve seen betting discussions light up the League of Legends forums on a regular basis. More than anything, that strikes us as a way for observers to get back into the game on a limited, almost casual basis. Ironically, getting more personally involved in a match while still remaining in spectator mode came up more than once.


“I use spec in Killing Floor because I can help then when they’re killing zombies,” added Kelly Schröder on Facebook.

That’s a development showing up more and more in other games as well. Because as fun as it is to watch expert players do their thing at a safe distance, sooner or later, gamers want to get back into the game.