Virgin Gaming is braced for the big time in Europe after signing a deal with EA Sports.
The tournament provider expects a surge in users when it is integrated into the publisher’s FIFA titles.
It has already seen almost 40,000 new gamers sign up after running a similar scheme on the latest Madden title in the US.
“We are just really thrilled and we think it is a world changer for us,” said Virgin Gaming’s CEO Rob Segal. “There’s no publisher bigger than EA.
“The fact that EA believes in us validates everything that we’ve been doing. They have millions of customers, their franchises are some of the most loved in the world, there are just so many opportunities for us to rapidly expand our userbase and the size of the tournaments we offer. It is a home run for us.”
Announced at E3 2010, Virgin Gaming offers Xbox 360 and PS3 owners the chance to take part in tournaments for cash prizes while playing at home.
“We always knew that the closer we get to the console experience, that is where we’d find the most traction. Literally being in-console, in the lobby, so when you go on Xbox Live or PSN and play Madden, there is now a Virgin Gaming red zone within EA Sports titles. You can’t get any better than that.”
Segal now hopes to attract big-name advertisers in order to offer massive prizes to players.
“Our customers are spending huge amounts of time with the site and can really engage with our advertisers,” he said.
“During the NBA 2K11 programme that we did last year, on average our customers were paying 600 games in a three and four-week period.
“For sponsors this is the chance to reach one of the most elusive demographics out there – male 18 to 34 – but not just to connect with them, to really get them involved. I think advertisers will like that and it will give us the opportunity to generate larger prize pools.”
Segal says the firm is talking to other publishers and is targeting some of the biggest games on the market. He also hopes to announce a ‘major retail initiative’ in a few weeks.