The growth of esports in the past decade has been impressive, and now the game industry’s biggest companies are diving into it. An example is Electronic Arts, which just unveiled its esports strategy at its press conference at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) event in Los Angeles.
Peter Moore, chief competition officer at EA (who will speak at our GamesBeat 2016 conference on Aug. 1–3 in Los Angeles), said in a blog post and an interview with GamesBeat that EA’s vision is simple: to make stars out of all of its players.
“Whether you’re an elite player competing for cash and prizes in global eSports events, or you’re taking your first steps to play online, we want everyone to feel the thrill of competition,” Moore wrote. “We’re passionate about making it easy to find great competition that’s fun, fair, and satisfying — at any skill level.”
So, EA is going to unveil three tiers of competition that will come in weekly online contests and live events featuring a variety of games. The events include Challenger Events, Premier Events, and the EA Majors.
The Challenger Events give everybody the ability to host their own events within EA titles, such as Battlefield, FIFA soccer, and Madden NFL football.
“Want to figure out who the best player in your school or town is? We are going to make it easy,” Moore wrote.
The Premier Events are live events hosted by partners from inside and out of the gaming industry.
“This is where things start to get interesting, with big prizes and some serious visibility,” he said.
EA Majors are large-scale live esports events hosted by EA itself. These will have the best players, big prizes, and a global stage. One of the upcoming events is the Madden NFL 17 Championship Series. It includes four EA Major Events over the next year, with $1 million in prizes.
In an interview, Moore added some details.
“Competitive gaming is a pyramid. At the very top of that, there are several hundred players who make a full-time living playing games like DOTA 2, League of Legends, or Counter-Strike. In our case, Madden and FIFA have full-time professional players, as well as a few Battlefield players. But our real focus is going to be further down that pyramid, not just the top professionals,” he said. “We’re doing a lot of work at a dev level on making sure we’re building competitive modes in games where it’s appropriate. We’re doing a lot of work at a platform level for matchmaking, anti-cheating, and all the stuff that concerns us in competitive gaming. We’re making sure we have all the right modes in our core franchises.”
Besides Madden, EA will focus on FIFA and Battlefield in the next year.
“The analogy we’re using is tennis or golf, where you have these major events, each of which is a stand-alone event,” Moore told me. “The Madden Classic is this fall. The Madden Bowl will be played over the winter. The Madden Challenge will be played next spring. Next summer will be the Madden Championship. These will be high-end events, the type of thing we typically call esports now. We’ll be able to broadcast them, both on a streaming platform and a traditional media platform. We’ll bring sponsors in to allow the big brands to get a taste of what competitive gaming is about.”
At EA Play, the big fan event at E3, EA will also show competitive events that highlight games, such as Need for Speed and UFC 2.
“As well, we’ll provide a platform for making heroes of these players. We have a ton of Madden players who’ve been making a living out of this for many years. We’ll be able to propel them into the psyche of a more mass market with our traditional media and streaming partners,” Moore said. “These will be very much testing and seeing and feeling how it plays out.”
Check out the rest of our interview here.