EA and Virgin want to turn sports games into eSports; laymen don’t understand CoD or StarCraft “nearly as well”


At PCGamesN we like to keep track of developments in eSports, and are always intrigued to learn about new variants of the ancient and very secret art of ‘publisher logic’. Today is a fine day, because we get to do both at once.

For the past two years, EA have worked with Virgin Gaming and GameStop to host something called an ‘EA Sports $1 Million Challenge’, where nearly 900 qualifying contestants play FIFA, Madden and NHL for the titular prize. The aim? To turn the publisher’s most market-resistant sports games into eSports to stand alongside LoL and Counter-Strike.

To hear Virgin Gaming exec VP Wim Stocks tell it, the brilliance of the thing is that – unlike CoD or StarCraft – even Normals can enjoy real sports.

Forbes asked Stocks why it is that video games, especially sports games, work well in the competitive space.

“It’s no different than real life,” he replied. “Not only is there competition in real life sporting events, there’s competition in these events. The great thing about this event around a FIFA, NHL or NFL is that people who watch sports understand what’s happening in these video games. They might not if they’re playing a game of Call of Duty or StarCraft II.

“Laymen are not going to understand nearly as well in that kind of a competition compared to a game that is sports related. It becomes a real natural [fit] for what is we’re doing here. It makes complete sense in a very organic way.”

Frankly, I’m not sure that fusing a small ‘e’ to the front of competitive US sports counts as organic – especially not when LoL and StarCraft’s scenes are as natural as they come -self-perpetuating and ever-growing. What do you think?

Thanks, VG247.