EA, Virgin Gaming Launch PS3 Sports Tournament Initiative

Electronic Arts today launched the EA Sports Challenge Series, a new tournament initiative that is set to offer over $1 million in cash and prizes to the best Madden NFL 12, NHL 12 and FIFA 12 players.
Electronic Arts today launched the EA Sports Challenge Series, a new tournament initiative that is set to offer over $1 million in cash and prizes to the best Madden NFL 12, NHL 12 and FIFA 12 players. The service is being powered by Virgin Gaming, and is exclusive to the PlayStation 3. By signed on at the EA Sports Challenge Series dedicated website, any player can take part in the various tournaments and win prizes. Talking to Gamasutra, Billy Levy, president and co-founder of Virgin Gaming, explained exactly how the business model works. "Virgin Gaming earns a game management fee from each player who participates in a cash based game through," he noted. "We also obtain sponsorship revenue from running brand sponsored tournaments like the Get Your Edge $40,000 KZ3 Challenge." He continued, "We're set to announce some exciting high profile partnerships early next year and see many brands starting to understand the power of gaming." The big money question is whether or not the general public understand e-sports and want to participate. "I think e-sports is still very niche," Levy admits. "I believe the public understands that people play competitively, but I don't think they realize the scale of some of these tournaments." "Players are making real money competing, with some tournaments offering up one million in cash. I also don't think they are fully aware of how these tournaments are offered in a safe and secure manner online." However, he was quick to note that "online gaming is not just for the 'pros'". "There is competition for gamers of all skill levels and anybody has the chance to win and play competitively. Virgin Gaming has unique features in place to verify who wins the online game and rank a player's skill level to match opponents up fairly. We offer many different tournament styles, as well as head-to-head game offerings to suit every players preferences." To get that much-needed push into the mainstream may take some time, suggested Levy. "[We need] Justin Beiber to sing a song about it, or maybe a reference in the next Twilight movie," he laughed. "In all seriousness, I think companies like Virgin Gaming, EA, and MLG are doing a great job of promoting e-sports and all it has to offer. Once people realize that Virgin Gaming is an extension to their gaming experience, similar to an in game add-on or a DLC update, you will really start to see the shift." On the topic of why Virgin Gaming chooses to bring e-sports to consoles, rather than the PC as so many others have, Levy's answer is simple: "no one was doing it right." "We had a vision and we knew our vision would help gamers all over the world participate and play in cash-based events in a safe and secure environment." However, he noted that other platforms are definitely on the horizon. "All said, we are super excited to announce that you can expect to see us moving into other gaming mediums in 2012!"

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