EA Sports relinquishing some online play to Virgin Gaming

by: Dan -
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EA has long been known for locking down online multiplayer gaming onto their own servers ever since the current generation of consoles started back in 2005. Well, it looks like EA Sports will be dipping their toe into the world of “competitive” tournament play, but won’t be the company in control of the environment.

It was announced late last week that EA has contracted out the entire tournament environment to a third party, which will be Virgin Gaming. The move is actually brilliant on EA’s part, as they have been having difficulty with lawsuits as of late, and this will help insulate them from future issues based on what they have planned. Apparently, EA Sports will be lining up not just online sponsored tournaments, but also head-to-head competitive play and more controversially, pay-to-enter events. The last one is why it makes sense for them to hire a company that specializes in this service, because real money will be changing hands, and EA probably doesn’t want the headache of dealing with disgruntled players that lose due to a perceived issue with the tournament structure, connectivity to the platform or anything else that could be blamed on the server side.  This is the second major publisher Virgin Gaming has nabbed in the last six months after their announcement of a partnership with Ubisoft at E3 last August.  The platform will be incorporated right into the EA Sports titles for the PS3 and 360, and tournaments will begin in early 2011.  That should be a clue that Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters may be the first title to have this integration.

If this venture is successful, maybe we EA will move their entire online multiplayer to the Virgin system and we won’t see so many server shutdowns happening every year.
EA SPORTS™ Names Virgin Gaming as Official Worldwide Provider of Online Tournaments
Premier Sports Brand Joins Most-Advanced Competitive Gaming Platform

TORONTO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--EA SPORTS™, a label of Electronic Arts Inc., (NASDAQ: ERTS) and Virgin Gaming™ today announced a new agreement whereby Virgin Gaming becomes the official worldwide provider of online tournaments for EA SPORTS. The agreement covers all head-to-head competitive play, pay-to-enter and sponsored tournaments for select EA SPORTS console video games.

As part of the agreement, the Virgin Gaming tournament platform will integrate directly with select EA SPORTS titles offering seamless web functionality and enhanced community tools for competitive gaming across Xbox 360® and PlayStation®3 consoles. The first tournaments will begin early 2011, with details to be announced in the near future.

“EA SPORTS is the leading sports video game brand and publisher in the world, and we are thrilled to offer our members the opportunities to compete in some of their very best multiplayer sports games,” said Rob Segal, CEO of Virgin Gaming. “Virgin Gaming is a unique convergence of competitive gaming, video games and social/community networking, and we are excited that EA SPORTS shares our vision for the platform and its potential.”

“Competitive online gaming is an increasingly popular component of our industry and a great way for EA SPORTS and Virgin Gaming to help connect gamers around the world through the global language of sports,” said Peter Moore, President of EA SPORTS. “Virgin Gaming demonstrates the system-wide integrity we desire, and this is a great opportunity for EA SPORTS fans to experience secure and impeccably managed online tournaments for some of our top titles.”

EA SPORTS™ is one of the leading sports entertainment brands in the world, with top-selling videogame franchises, award-winning interactive technology, global videogame competitions and breakthrough digital experiences. EA SPORTS delivers personal access to the emotion of sports through industry-leading sports simulation videogames, including Madden NFL football, FIFA Soccer, NHL® hockey, NBA ELITE basketball, NCAA® Football, Fight Night boxing and Tiger Woods PGA TOUR® golf, and EA SPORTS Active.

For more information about EA SPORTS, including news, video, blogs, forums and game apps, please visit www.easports.com to connect, share and compete.

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