Mobile developer Gameloft is ready to take its long-running racing franchise to esports. Today, the company announced that it’s hosting the first edition of its Asphalt esports series, which will run this summer and conclude at the Gamescom convention — the biggest game show in the world — this August in Germany.
According to market researcher Newzoo, esports will be a $1.65 billion business by 2021. And mobile esports could help it get there. For the Asphalt esports series, Gameloft is partnering with competitive gaming company ESL to organize the tournament. It also struck a deal with Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi to make the Black Shark 2 phone the official gaming device of the competition.
Players will face off in Asphalt 9: Legends, the latest version of the free-to-play mobile game on iOS and Android. Qualification rounds begin on May 20. The top-ranking players from nine different countries — France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, UK, and U.S. — will then head to Gamescom for the finale. The prize is €20,000 (about $22,350).
“Esports coming to mobile is a natural evolution of the industry and a testament to how important mobile gaming has become,” said Gameloft VP of marketing Damien Marchi in a statement.