The big video game publisher Ubisoft has partnered with tournament game startup Virgin Gaming, giving a boost to billionaire Richard Branson’s latest attempt to make a comeback in video games.

Virgin Gaming will provide the multiplayer tournament service for some of the French game publisher’s hottest game releases, including the upcoming Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Rob Segal, chief executive of Virgin Gaming, said that his company will offer social networking and competitive gaming for Ubisoft’s games on the PC and consoles.
Laurent Detoc, president of Ubisoft North America, said that the tournament gaming service that Virgin Gaming offers will be a perfect fit for a number of Ubisoft titles with multiplayer play coming this year. Virgin Gaming offers features such as verification of results; a secure payment service; and community reputation management system. It can also stage tournaments of any size and track the results.

Branson, pictured above, announced at E3 in June that his Virgin Group had made an investment in the new Virgin Gaming startup and would invest heavily in offering prizes to gamers, who will be able to place bets and compete for $1 million in cash and prizes in the first 12 months. Virgin Gaming said more partnerships would be announced soon.

Ubisoft headlines a slate of industry partnerships with key publishers and retailers to be announced by Virgin Gaming in the coming months. Additional details on these partnerships will be announced soon.

Rivals include Worldwinner, which powers sites such as AOL Games, and King.com, which handles competitive games for Yahoo. Virgin Gaming will target males ages 18 to 35 who play hardcore games. As Microsoft has done with matchmaking on Xbox Live, Virgin Gaming strives to match players with similar skills. Players can win points that are redeemable on Virgin properties such as Virgin Airlines or some of Virgin’s 200 other businesses.

Virgin Gaming will stage promotions through various retail and publisher partnerships. Virgin Games makes money via a 12 percent fee for each tournament. It also generates sponsor revenue.