Xfire is launching the open beta test for its e-Sports platform, which will enable any player to create tournaments with friends in games such as Riot Games’ League of Legends. This means that amateur gamers will be able to compete in tournaments as easily as the pros.
The Xfire tournament platform is layered on top of the League of Legends game, which was launched in 2009 and still draws tens of millions of players a day for multiplayer online battle arena matches. That will help spread the popular e-Sports competition spread to more gamers, said Mark Donovan, chief executive of Santa Monica, Calif.-based Xfire, in an interview with GamesBeat.
It takes about five steps to organize a player tournament. Xfire can place players into custom match lobbies for tournaments. The brackets are fully automated, and streaming is integrated with Twitch and Hitbox. Players can see their stats at a glance.
Xfire expects to be able to add more games with integrated tournaments over time.
“It used to be a pain in the ass,” Donovan said. “We want to make it very simple and easy for players and organizers. Xfire has always been a cool and innovative company providing tools for gamers. We’re doing for e-Sports what Twitch did for game broadcasting.”
During a closed beta test, Xfire registered more than 100,000 gamers, including 3,500 players who competed in the largest League of Legends amateur tournaments in the Western hemisphere. That tournament drew more than 300,000 stream viewers.
The e-Sports market has about 71 million viewers in Western markets. Xfire is trying to serve those players by providing them with lots of features for organizers to host and promote their tournaments. That includes custom branding, player and team management, and stream integration.The platform is free web-based software that works for any game and is compatible with Xfire’s downloadable social client.
“We think this market can reach 250 million players worldwide,” Donovan said. “By comparison, online poker has just 40 million to 50 million players.”
Xfire also said that Matt Marcou will join as vice president of marketing. Marcou has 12 years of experience in e-Sports at companies such as SteelSeries and Electronic Arts. He helped create the e-Sports program at Riot Games and its League of Legends Championship Series.
“Features like ours can save hours of tournament time,” said Marcou, in an interview with GamesBeat.
Xfire was founded in 2003 as a competitive gaming platform. It was converted into a gamer social network which Viacom acquired for $102 million in 2005. In 2010, Donovan’s startup, Titan Gaming, acquired Xfire from Viacom. About 18 months ago, Xfire has focused on online tournaments for gamers. Rather than focus on the pros, Xfire has focused on the amateurs, or weekend warriors.
Xfire has 19 employees. Rivals include Battlefy and Challonge. Xfire’s investors include Intel Capital, Tomorrow Ventures, IDM Venture Partners and several Southern California angel investors including Eric Pulier, Kamran Pourzanjani, and Michael Robertson. Xfire has raised $9 million to date.